Teaching awards identify outstanding role models

23 June 2014

The annual teaching awards for the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences – the Dennis Pickup Clinical Educator Awards and the Butland Teaching Excellence Awards - were presented by the Dean, Professor John Fraser, at the Grafton campus earlier this month. Special mention goes to the following two SoPH staff members who received Butland Teaching Excellence Awards.

Butland Award for Early Career Excellence in Teaching. 
Dr Laura Wilkinson-Meyers.

Dr Laura Wilkinson-Meyers has been teaching on the Bachelor of Health Sciences for almost 6 years, first as a senior tutor while completing her PhD and since 2012 as a Lecturer.  Dr Wilkinson-Meyers values creative and critical thinking; and has had considerable success in developing interactive teaching activities to facilitate this in her classes. Dr Wilkinson-Meyers is committed to applying health services concepts to real-world problems.  As a teacher, she sees herself primarily as a navigator and a facilitator, helping students develop excellent subject knowledge and communication skills.

Dr Wilkinson-Meyers’ commitment to improving the quality of teaching became apparent very quickly after she became a Senior Tutor. After a redesign of the POPLHLTH 101 course in 2006, Dr Wilkinson-Meyers set about designing and implementing learning activities designed to develop the academic writing skills of first year students, a shortcoming identified by many staff.  Each year saw new developments, in which Dr Wilkinson-Meyers partnered with staff from the Centre for Academic Development and the Student Learning Centre to build academic skill development into tutorial programmes and assessment in the POPLHLTH 101 and 102 courses.  These interventions led to a significant improvement in student feedback between 2007 and 2010 and in their writing skills.

Since appointment as a Lecturer, Dr Wilkinson-Meyers has continued to make significant improvements in the POPLHLTH 101 course in her role as course director.  She also leads the teaching team in the POPLHLTH 301 (Health Systems 2) course.  Here Dr Wilkinson-Meyers has incorporated a challenging problem-based learning component.  This has drawn positive comments from student and lecturers alike who note that it makes students draw together theoretical and practical components in a capstone degree experience.

Dr Wilkinson-Meyers’ commitment to quality teaching, innovation and continuous improvement is widely recognised by students and peers in the School of Population Health making her highly deserving of this award for early career excellence in teaching.


Butland Award for Excellence in Teaching Innovation. 
Dr Elana Curtis.

Dr Curtis began her university career as a Senior Lecturer in 2005 when she was appointed as Kaiārahi leading Hikitia Te Ora, the Certificate in Health Sciences.  Dr Curtis entered the Te Kuupenga Hauora Māori during a change of leadership with the Certificate facing challenges in recruitment and low student pass rates.  It was an environment that called for sustained innovation and Dr Curtis has risen to that challenge.

Under her leadership a comprehensive set of measures has been introduced to improve the success of Māori and Pacific students.  The increasing success of Māori and Pacific students in the faculty has been supported by greater integration amongst all three Vision 20:20 programmes (Whakapiki Ake, the Certificate and MAPAS).  Dr Curtis has taken a leading role in this; ensuring that new and innovative approaches in each aspect support and reinforce each other. 

All this has been done in a research-led environment with Dr Curtis successfully attracting external funding to research, develop, test and report these innovations.  In doing so, Dr Curtis has contributed significantly to this faculty’s reputation as an equity leader within the university and internationally.

Dr Curtis acknowledges that none of what she has achieved would have happened without the work of team.  However, her leadership has resulted in serial innovation which has seen increasing numbers of successful Māori and Pacific students in all our programmes.  This achievement makes Dr Curtis a very worthy recipient of this Butland Award for Excellence in Teaching Innovation.