Dr Ksenija Napan

Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching

Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Practice, Faculty of Social and Health Sciences, UNITEC

“Looking beyond convention.

Ksenija, who is originally from Croatia, has taught at Unitec for 13 years. The majority of her learners are ‘second chance’, from widely different background and situations. She herself was an unconventional learner who 'dyed my hair in three colours and took my beloved dog to all my lectures'. She was surprised to receive two Student of the Year awards and be offered a tutorial assistant job. Thus began a remarkable academic career in Croatia and now in New Zealand, where she is still challenging conventional practices.

Colleagues acknowledge Ksenija as an expert in alternative assessment and an innovator. She pioneered Academic Co-creative Inquiry, where learners personalise learning outcomes and transform them into inquiry questions.

Another innovation is ‘the art of spark spotting’—helping others recognise that bright spark in each other, essential for effective social practice. And, at the age of 27, she developed the Contact-Challenge method of teaching and learning, based on the importance of mutuality. 

To top all this off, Ksenija is a prolific publisher, including a co-authored book in its fifth printing. Her learners describe her as ‘the benchmark of professional practice’.