Dr Rachel Zajac

Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching

Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Otago

“I use an arsenal of illustrative techniques to demonstrate how psychological science surprises us.”

Rachel is a psychological scientist whose teaching spans from classrooms to courtrooms.  She has taught almost 10,000 students since 2002, inspiring those who are likely to become the next generation of criminal justice professionals and researchers. Outside the University, Rachel’s teaching has inspired many people already working in the criminal justice system to use scientific understanding to improve practice for the better. 

Rachel is passionate about science communication and successfully shares that with her students. In her own words Rachel says her graduates should leave feeling “knowledgeable, capable, and valuable”, and they do. Students appreciate her “informative, stimulating and challenging” courses and respond to her “down-to-earth approach, natural curiosity, open-mindedness, enthusiasm and great sense of humour”.

A colleague writes of Rachel’s teaching ability: “Rachel stands out. Her ratings are simply off the charts. I suspect that she is one of the few people who could teach with a blackboard and a piece of chalk. No fancy techniques but just rock solid teaching that makes students take notice and come to class. She is the consummate teacher”.

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Dr Rachel Zajac - Recipient of a 2016 Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Award