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Top teachers named at OUSA

Wednesday 31 October 2018 9:02am

Accountancy lecturer Nicola Beatson with her 2018 OUSA Teaching Excellence Award.

For the second year in row, a teacher from Otago’s School of Business has been named the University’s best by students.

Last Friday Accountancy lecturer Nicola Beatson won the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) Premier Lecturer Award, an award won by Marketing senior lecturer Dr John Guthrie in 2017.

Ms Beatson says she was amazed and thrilled to be named the winner at the ceremony held at Otago Museum’s Hutton Theatre.

“It means so much, in fact it’s really hard to put into words what this award means to me. I can honestly say that it is a career highlight, and I feel incredibly lucky to have had such wonderful students who took the time to vote for me.”

The awards were created by OUSA to highlight the importance of quality teaching by University lecturers and to recognise those who students admire the most.

Other winners included Dr David Warren (Chemistry) who won the Summer School Excellence in Teaching Award and Dr Gareth Treharne (Psychology) who won the Disability Awareness and Inclusive Teaching Award. Divisional winners were: Business – Premier Lecturers Dr Viktoria Kahui (Economics) and Dr Roel Wijland (Marketing), Top Tutor Aleisha Lord (Economics); Humanities – Premiere Lecturers Dr Jane Adams (History) and Professor Janine Hayward (Politics), Top Tutor Lucy Northwood (Anthropology and Archaeology); Health Sciences – Premier Lecturers Dr Matt Bevin (Physiology) and Dr Latika Samalia (Anatomy), Top Tutor Dr Althea Gamble Blakey (Otago Medical School); and Sciences – Premier Lecturers Professor Phil Bishop (Zoology) and Dr Robert Odolinski (Surveying), Top Tutor Dr Jennifer Robson (Microbiology and Immunology).

Awards organiser OUSA’s Student Support Manager Sage Burke says the awards are an opportunity both to acknowledge, on behalf of the students of Otago, the contribution that lecturers make to their academic endeavours and future careers, and to encourage best practice in teaching.

This year two premier lecturers were named from each division, rather than just one, reflecting refinements made to the competition to focus more closely on quality teaching rather than straight popularity.

“Last year we refined the competition to control for class size, this year we refined it again, to look more closely at pedagogical criteria.”

This criteria included the use of relevant learning materials: communicating course content in a way that is clear and easy to learn; the pace of course content; passion for their subject; and a willingness to go the extra mile.

Ms Beatson’s students say she ticks all of these boxes.

“Nicola is the best lecturer I have had,” commented one. “She brings so much enthusiasm to the course, and her dedication towards her students is second to none. The way she explains things makes it so easy to understand.”

“She is always very happy and passionate when taking the lectures,” said another. “She also always tries to give us any additional help we need through organising help sessions before exams.”

Another student commented on the fact Ms Beatson plays music at the start of each of her lectures – something she began as a way to calm her own nerves.

“Being in front of hundreds of students is not easy, and playing music I liked made me feel good prior to class starting. Then I noticed students singing along as they walked in, and some started requesting music. They even mentioned that they liked it in my teaching evaluations, so I keep doing it. It also lets the students know my mood, as if I’m feeling energetic, it’s more likely I’ll put on something upbeat, but if I’m having a tough day, maybe it’s a bit more reflective. It’s all about communicating, creating relationships, and having a positive vibe in the lecture, and for me I start to do that with music.”

Ms Beatson joined the Department of Accountancy and Finance at the University of Otago in 2010.

Alongside her teaching success, her enthusiasm for her research saw her win the PhD Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition in 2017, after winning the same competition for Masters' students in 2015.