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University of Otago Teaching Excellence Awards announced

Main entrance to the University at night

Monday 14 June 2010 2:39pm

Teaching Excellence Awards. Passion for their subjects and the gift of communication are qualities which distinguish the two recipients of this year’s Teaching Excellence Awards, announced today.

Lecturers Dr Phil Bishop, who teaches zoology, and Mr John Harraway, who teaches statistics, are the 2010 recipients of the awards; announced for the eighth year running at a function in the clocktower today.

Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg warmly congratulated the successful candidates, both of whom, he says, have shown outstanding capability as teachers in their fields.

Both Mr Harraway and Dr Bishop say they are honoured to receive the award, which highlights the University’s commitment to excellence in teaching. To qualify, they had to prepare a substantial portfolio including student and peer evaluations.

Making statistics “come alive” and extensive preparation so that lectures are never dull, are two of the key principles Mr Harraway incorporates in his teaching.

“My experience is that this enthusiasm is infectious, and enables students to become much more readily engaged with the topic, especially when exploring data from current research,” he says.

His first lecture in 1966 relied on chalk and a blackboard, and students liked it because he had prepared well. Since then, data projectors, video and the web have added to the communication tools at hand, and, at a professional level, meant a continual up-skilling process.

Head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics Professor Richard Barker says Mr Harraway is meticulous in his preparation of lectures.

“He is a popular lecturer with students. He constantly seeks to improve how he teaches and how to better put his lessons in context,” he says.

Dr Bishop, the joint-winner of the Teaching Excellence Awards, and self-confessed frog advocate, believes education is not a career path; it is a way of life.

“In everything I do I am always, and often subconsciously, looking for ways to incorporate those experiences into a form of teaching and learning,” he says.

“I feel it is very important to motivate students. The lecture is an important element of this process for me; throughout my teaching I use a wide variety of media to produce stimulating, humorous and highly professional classes.”

Head of Zoology Professor Hamish Spencer says Dr Bishop has “earned a reputation as a truly superb teacher.”

“Phil’s enthusiasm in the classroom really impresses; he conveys an enthusiasm for his subject that inspires the vast majority of the class,” he says.


Dr Phil Bishop
Tel 64 3 479 7990

Mr John Harraway
Tel 64 3 479 7782

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