New Zealand Law Society - Teaching excellence award for Canterbury Dean of Law

Teaching excellence award for Canterbury Dean of Law

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The University of Canterbury's Dean of Law, Professor Ursula Cheer, has been presented with a Sustained Excellence award from Ako Aotearoa National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence.

The award was one of 12 Sustained Excellence awards presented at Parliament on 8 August by Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith. All Sustained Excellence winners receive $20,000.

A news release from the University of Canterbury says Professor Cheer became a law lecturer at the University of Canterbury in 1996.

Ursula Cheer

It says one of the innovative activities Professor Cheer has developed is ‘Media Madness’, a real-time breaking-news simulation exercise, where law students work with senior journalism students as their clients, advising them on a breaking story, where the facts are based on a real news event.

She also actively engages the students by getting them to run things, such as researching and presenting biographical introductions for guest speakers, thanking them and presenting them with provided gifts. Students are also randomly chosen to run Grand Debate and case study discussion sessions.

Professor Cheer runs a Haiku competition online on a voluntary basis and organises a ‘Pub Quiz’ as a revision and motivation exercise. Another exercise, a filmed newsdesk presentation, develops students’ oral skills.

To engage students and make classes more active and inclusive, Professor Cheer uses real case studies to break up and illustrate lectures, online quizzes for revision and class question-and-answer sessions. In large classes, she makes use of the ‘talkshow host’ approach. This involves roaming the entire lecture space among the students, deliberately breaking down barriers. She makes it a challenge to reach the ‘silent scribblers’, helping them to get more out of their learning and realise their potential.