Research and Innovation

From 2022 Ako Aotearoa takes a new approach to restart its Research and Innovation programme. Future focused, considered and coherent, the programme for the next five years involves collaboratively working with tertiary education organisations, researchers, and educators to develop new knowledge to inform improved ways of teaching and learning in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Our deliberate shift from a contestable to commissioning approach will ensure our funds are focussed on the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) objectives and better meet the knowledge needs of all of those in the tertiary education and training system.


The focus of our proposed work is on objectives two and three of the TES– barrier free access and quality teaching and leadership.

Guided by the Ako Aotearoa Research and Innovation Agenda (AARIA), the programme aims to:

  • support the tertiary education system and contribute to better tertiary teaching and subsequently better learning outcomes for ākonga
  • share research and innovation findings in ways that support teaching and learning / education and training, as well as supporting the interests of any collaborating organisations or entities
  • provide opportunities for collaborative work and networking that benefits all involved and contributes to building research capability.

The AARIA programme plan

The plan has five workstreams:

  1. 2022: The programme of work is underway - working with organisations to commission a number of projects with Māori, Pacific, disabled, and neurodiverse ākonga.
  2. 2022: Collaboratively designing with the sector the research and innovation programme for 2023 and beyond.
  3. 2022 onwards: Supporting research teams through, for example, an online Community of Practice and resources.
  4. 2022 onwards: Promoting research and innovation practice through a wide range of outputs including, for example, reports, fact sheets, webinars, good practice guides (how to put the research into action), videos, and through Communities of Practice.
  5. 2022 onwards: Reviewing and using Ako Aotearoa’s impact evaluation process based around four rubrics: reach; impact on learners; impact on teaching professionals; and impact on the external environment and stakeholders. (Download this summary of two reports on the impact of Ako Aotearoa’s co-funded projects: Contributing to better tertiary teaching and learning outcomes – the summary (PDF, 427 KB, 10-pages).

The importance of research and innovation across the tertiary education system

Each level of the tertiary education system wants the same outcomes for ākonga, but each level has different knowledge needs to achieve this. For example:

  • Government is interested in knowing about: the extent to which the objectives of the Tertiary Education Strategy (TES) are being met; the extent to which the RoVE changes are providing a coherent, seamless learning experience; and how to achieve equitable outcomes for Māori, Pacific, disabled, and neurodiverse ākonga.
  • Organisations and educators are interested in knowing about: ways to build the capability of those delivering education and training (i.e. educators, advisors, employers); a pedagogy of equity; how to use an equity lens to know more about the conditions for learner success related to teaching and learning; assessment; support services; and data and technology.
  • Ākonga want a range of factors that improve their learning experience and for their voices to be heard (Based on the Te Rito reports).

Supporting Documents


Ako Aotearoa's Impact Evaluation Framework

This framework (IEF) is a tool developed to measure Ako Aotearoa’s impact on the tertiary education system of New Zealand.

(PDF, 224 KB)

  • 12 September 2021


Contributing to better tertiary teaching and learning outcomes – the summary

A summary of two reports on the impact of Ako Aotearoa’s co-funded projects, Prepared by Linda Keesing-Styles for Ako Aotearoa. Published July 2017.

(PDF, 427 KB)

  • 17 May 2023


Contributing to better tertiary teaching learning and outcomes – the full reports

Report on the value of co-funded projects for budget-holders, practitioners and learners, prepared by Fleur Chauvel for Ako Aotearoa. Published July 2017.

(PDF, 2.1 MB)

  • 17 May 2023


REPORT | Creating sustainable change to improve outcomes for tertiary learners

A framework for thinking about projects in tertiary education. Report prepared for Ako Aotearoa by Anne Alkema. Published 2012.

(PDF, 1.6 MB)

  • 19 September 2021

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