Richard Nyhof

Award for Sustained Excellence in Tertiary Teaching

Principal Lecturer, School of Engineering, Otago Polytechnic

“My first loves are maths, the sciences, logical systems and thinking – these are the subjects I help students to understand, break down, put together, and most importantly, critique.”

Richard is totally committed to making mathematics accessible to all. He has taught continuously since he was 21, from foundation to degree level courses. He assists students to learn the maths concepts in disciplines as diverse as hospitality, nursing, occupational therapy and engineering. Richard’s teaching philosophy is all about learning. He says “a teacher who doesn’t facilitate learning isn’t teaching”. He emphasises three things: first, there is no one pathway to learn; second, teach people to think and, third, guide the students’ learning.

Richard passionately shares his knowledge with colleagues and students alike. A colleague writes, “His support of colleagues is second to none, very eager to work collaboratively.” He encourages students to adopt a “Wild ideas, disciplined thinking approach” to learning, famously encouraging one class to “look for the pink elephant in the park”. He encourages students to bring their real-world problems into the classroom, helping one to create a chocolate waterfall in the Dunedin Cadbury factory. In the words of one student, “Richard is a fantastic lecturer, he is passionate and enthusiastic, he makes learning enjoyable”.

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Richard Nyhof - Recipient of a 2016 Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Award