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Top honours for Beatson

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Nicola Beatson receiving her award
Vice-Chancellor Professor Vernon Squire and Nicola Beatson with her Excellence in Teaching award.

Nicola Beatson’s approach to teaching is pretty simple.

“I try to care about each and every one of my students and put myself into their shoes,” she says.

That approach has proved successful, with the Accountancy and Finance lecturer been awarded the prestigious Otago Teaching Excellence award at a ceremony this week.

She was one of four academics in the University to be awarded the honour, the others being Associate Professor Ben Schonthal, Dr David McMorran, and Dr Anne-Marie Jackson.

She says receiving the award is a huge honour, and admits to a moment of “uncool” excitement on finding out she had been awarded the title.

Beatson believes her job is to “help clear the fog” for students.

“Each one of them is an individual who comes into the lecture with a different set of experiences. I constantly remind myself that although the words I’m saying make perfect sense to me, to students sometimes it can be confusing and hard.

“People learn at the edge of what they know already, so it’s trying to connect new ideas to something that is familiar,” she says.

Destroying the “incorrect notion” that accounting is boring is what Beatson strives for.

“It’s a wonderful, complex and interesting discipline that is based on human decision making and judgement. If my students can see that accounting is more than just punching numbers into a calculator – although that is fun too – then that would make me very happy.”

The certificate will be hung on an already rather full wall. She won the Disability Information and Support Appreciation Award in 2016, OUSA’s Top Ten Lecturers teaching award in 2015, Premier Commerce Teaching award in 2017, and the Overall Premier Lecturer award last year.

“The OUSA ones are really awesome because they’re voted by the students.  And now this award just completes that.

“This one is a reflection of my approach to teaching. It says I know what I’m doing,” she laughs.

At the award ceremony, Vice-Chancellor Professor Vernon Squire said selecting the winners of the annual award was getting harder every year.

“Every single application reveals master-class skill in learning and teaching. Otago has some amazingly able teachers and each year the panel sees more and more of them.

“I just cannot accept Einstein’s view that ‘numerous are the academic professors, but rare are wise and noble teachers’, with regard to Otago, as I believe we have many wise and noble teachers.

“Definitely, Ben, Anne-Marie, David and Nicola are as wise and noble as teachers get, and another common thread is that each of them is doing what they love to do and each of them brilliant at it because of that,” he said.

Teaching award group
Award recipients, from left, Dr Anne-Marie Jackson, Dr David McMorran, Nicola Beatson and Associate Professor Ben Schonthal.

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