Connection the key to teaching excellence

14 August 2020

A University of Waikato academic says the award-winning way she shares her passion for English literature with students is grounded in how she perceived the world as a child.

Associate Professor Kirstine Moffat, of the University’s School of Arts, is one of nine recipients of this year’s Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards.

The $20,000 award highlights sustained excellence in tertiary teaching and learning.

As a teacher of literature, Dr Moffat uses storytelling to connect with her students and to prompt them to think and feel. The award recognises her creative way of teaching, which engages students’ different learning styles and encourages them to take an active part in directing their own learning.

Students say this approach is empowering, giving them a desire to discover things for themselves and getting them excited about, and invested in, their learning.

Dr Moffat says her teaching philosophy can be traced back to the experiences of childhood.

“The foundations of what I consider to be excellence in teaching lie in the childhood memory of discovery, the joy of connection, and magic.”

Dr Moffat is recognised as a creative teacher and a risk taker, encouraging both attributes in her students and creating a passionate and inclusive teaching environment in which students feel safe to give different opinions.

Dr Kirstine Moffatt
Dr Kirstine Moffat

Dr Moffat’s colleagues speak highly of her commitment to supporting and mentoring other teaching staff, developing and delivering sessions in creative teaching and assessment. Those who benefit from her expertise describe her as an inspirational teacher who gets involved and works to bring the creativity out of her students.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Teaching and Learning Associate Professor Tracy Bowell is extremely proud of Dr Moffat’s success.

"We’re delighted that her excellence as a teacher is being recognised with this national award. It’s wonderful to be able to celebrate."

The Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award winners will be celebrated at an event to be held later in the year, where the Minister of Education will acknowledge their work and announce one recipient as the winner of the Prime Minister’s Supreme Award.

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