A harvest of awards for the University’s education researchers

Several academics from the Faculty of Education and Social Work have been honoured with prestigious research awards at the New Zealand Research in Education (NZARE) Conference this week.

Dr Marek Tesar and Dr Maria Cooper
Dr Marek Tesar and Dr Maria Cooper with awards for early childhood education research

The conference theme this year, "Celebrating transformative educational research, policy, and pedagogies that foster the wellbeing of people and planet", speaks to the power of researchers and educators in shaping the future of Aotearoa New Zealand’s educational policies and practices.The awardees from the faculty are:

  • Professor Stephen May: The McKenzie Award for significant contribution to educational research and to the NZARE over an extended period of time
  • Dr Veronica Garcia Lazo: The Sutton-Smith Doctoral Award for the most outstanding doctoral thesis
  • Ben Porteous: The Rae Munro Masters Award for an excellent masters-level thesis impacting teacher education or classroom practice
  • Dr Maria Cooper and Dr Marek Tesar: The Judith Duncan ECE Award for contributions to early childhood research
  • Associate Professor Carol Mutch: NZARE Life Membership Award for an exceptional and enduring career dedicated to fostering excellence in educational research in Aotearoa New Zealand

On Wednesday 28 November, Dr Rae Si`ilata will deliver the Herbison Lecture, in honour of New Zealand educator Dame Jean Herbison. Rae will speak on a topic of current interest in education, "Enabling transformative Pacific Education futures: Enacting our reciprocal present and remembering our relational past".

Below are summaries of the citations:

The McKenzie Award

"Professor Stephen May has made a significant and exemplary contribution to educational research and to NZARE since 1990. He is regarded as a world authority on language rights and language policy, and an international expert in the related fields of indigenous language education, bilingual/immersion education, critical multiculturalism, and multilingualism and language learning.

"He has published 25 books [including the ground-breaking and award-winning Language and Minority Rights ] and over 100 articles and chapters on these topics to date, with over 7,000 citations to his work. His academic work is at the very forefront of developments, both nationally and internationally, in his areas of expertise."

Sutton-Smith Doctoral Award

Veronica Garcia Lazo’s PhD thesis, (Re) Imagining Critical Thinking Through the Visual, has been unanimously chosen by the sub-committee for the most outstanding thesis award. Lazo explored critical thinking through the 'visual' as a means to confront issues of equity and interpreted data through her own images – a/r/tographies. Lazo’s thesis "makes a tremendous contribution to new knowledge in the field of Visual Arts education in New Zealand".

This achievement is also an acknowledgement of the support of her main supervisor, Jill Smith, and co-supervisor, Kirsten Locke.

Rae Munro Masters Award

Ben Porteous’s masters thesis, Cyberbullying, public pedagogy and rural New Zealand masculinity: A theoretical and empirical exploration, is "topical and pertinent in light of current issues in New Zealand and internationally around the use of digital devices, bullying and youth suicide".

"Ben’s thesis offers an exceptionally robust theorisation that goes beyond traditional approaches to conceptualising bullying, instead integrating multiple theoretical frameworks which are each well-articulated and coherently used."

Ben’s research supervisors are Dr Kirsten Locke and Dr John Fenaughty.

Judith Duncan ECE Award (Early and mid-career excellence)

"Dr Marek Tesar has made a significant contribution to early childhood education and childhood studies research in Aotearoa New Zealand since completion of his PhD in 2012. His research has a strong interdisciplinary focus, drawing on childhood studies, cultural studies, and philosophy and sociology of education, with deep links to EC practice. A feature of Marek’s work is his advocacy for equitable early childhood education and the role of children’s voice and the ethics of working with children in research.

"Marek co-founded the Childhood Studies in Aotearoa New Zealand network which holds an annual colloquium and established, with Maria Cooper, the University of Auckland Early Childhood Seminar Series.

"Dr Maria Cooper’s research has a strong equity and practice focus, exploring early childhood teachers’ understandings, knowledge, and leadership practices and how these contribute to effective provision for infants and toddlers and Pasifika children, and their families. She is a principal or co-investigator for several research projects, both within New Zealand and internationally.

"Maria is co-director, with Marek Tesar, of the University of Auckland’s Early Childhood Seminar Series and led a leadership symposium for the Auckland EC community in 2018."