Associate Professor Ben Kennedy
Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Canterbury
" I love teaching and volcanoes, and I am convinced that learning about rocks is fun!"
Ben inspires the best possible outcomes for students through reflective teaching that is student centred, experiential, highly structured, and constantly updated through collaboration with peers. Drawing on his experience of working with Dr Carl Wieman (Nobel Laureate and world-leading science educator), Ben creates an atmosphere of excitement that resonates with the concept of ako and the tuakana/teina approach of support and mentoring. As affirmed by a student: “You have to engage during the class, so you can’t just, like, sit there just looking cool. You actually have to think and process things.”
He brings theoretical concepts in geo-science alive through a compelling blend of in-class pedagogy, virtual simulations, and authentic learning in field trips to active volcanic sites. A senior colleague notes: “students are able to connect the ‘dream’ of studying volcanoes for a living, with the reality that volcanologists actually do exist, and contribute useful science-for-society”.
Overall, Ben’s approach contributes to a culture change in teaching at the university, with benefits to students far beyond the department.