Professor John Croucher has won the Prime Minister’s University Teacher of the Year award.
Croucher, a professor of statistics at Macquarie University’s Graduate School of Management, received the award at a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra last night, along with 13 other lecturers who received awards for teaching excellence. Another nine educational programs were recognised and 148 entrants received citations.
Croucher is a former TV sports presenter, statistician and mathematician. He has authored 24 books and been teaching for the last four decades. He also has three PhDs, including one on statistics, one on modern history and another honorary doctorate from Papua New Guinea’s Divine Word University for his development of an MBA program there.
Until recently he wrote the “Number Crunch” column for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
Croucher said it was “wonderful” to win the award. With the recent Prime Minister’s prize for science awarded to Terry Speed, another statistician, Croucher said this could be a sign of statisticians “taking over the world and becoming important again”.
On teaching, he said it was important for the subject matter to remain relevant to students. “The one thing that most highly correlates with how students rate you as a teacher is clarity of explanation, you need to explain things in a way that they can understand,” he said.
“You need to also make them feel good about a subject that they probably came in loathing.”
Croucher said more could be done to create better incentives for university teaching. “If you’re a very good researcher and an average teacher you’ll get promoted, if it’s the other way around you probably won’t. I’d like to see a lot more done to encourage good teaching.”
Other award recipients were recognised for teaching excellence in areas as diverse as dentistry, genetics, bioscience, international relations, design, Japanese and economics.
Attending the award ceremony, Senator Scott Ryan, parliamentary secretary to the education minister said outstanding university teachers and programs deserved to be recognised and celebrated for their exceptional work.
“This year’s recipients have strived to engage students in their own learning and relate their curriculum to the world in which we live,” he said.
Awards for Teaching Excellence for 2013
- Ms Sophie Karanicolas, Ms Catherine Snelling, University of Adelaide
- Ms Helen Larkin, Deakin University
- Dr Jacqueline O'Flaherty, University of South Australia
- Dr Sebastian Kaempf, University of Queensland
- Dr Joanne Lind, University of Western Sydney
- Associate Professor Jillian Hamilton, Queensland University of Technology
- Dr Carol Hayes, Australian National University
- Professor Rod O'Donnell, University of Technology, Sydney
- Dr Gwendolyn Lawrie, University of Queensland
- Associate Professor Reena Tiwari, Curtin University
- Associate Professor Robyn Brandenburg, University of Ballarat
- Associate Professor Natalie Brown, University of Tasmania
- Professor John Croucher, Macquarie University
You can see the full list of awards here.