The Postgrad Calendar

October 2014


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Education Review finds a number of inspiring events for postgraduate researchers taking place at New Zealand institutions throughout the year


University of Waikato: Postgraduate Month

October is Postgraduate Month (PGM) at the University of Waikato. PGM is held every year and provides opportunities for students, staff, and members of the community to think about continuing their studies. It provides information about postgraduate qualifications and the benefits of postgraduate study.

PGM features various events and activities such as information sessions and workshops designed to build awareness of postgraduate research and develop a strong postgraduate culture on campus.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Postgraduate Professor Kay Weaver says PGM is a chance to profile the university’s postgraduate students, and for others to learn about of the value of postgraduate study and where it can take them.

“This month we are celebrating the important contribution our postgraduate students make to the university,” says Professor Weaver. “Postgraduate students, and the research they undertake, form a very significant part of our university community and they make an important contribution to the generation of new ideas and knowledge. PGM is a really good chance to promote their work to an audience outside the academic world.”

It’s not just the students who make a contribution.

“The work of our supervisors is hugely appreciated and is highly valued in terms of their accessibility and availability to students,” says Professor Weaver.

More than half of Waikato University’s research-active academic staff were rated in the top two categories by the Government in its 2012 quality evaluation for performance-based research funding (PBRF). Waikato is also among the top four New Zealand universities in having recognised researchers available for teaching and supervising postgraduate students. Of the academics who are earning PBRF funding for the university, Waikato has 9 per cent of researchers at ‘A’ level and just over 45 per cent of researchers are at ‘B’ level.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is the highlight of PGM, with heats that were conducted in September and the top 10 presentations competing at the final on 30 October. Last year’s winner was PhD student Monica Peters, who will be heading to the Trans-Tasman 3MT in Perth in November.

The University of Auckland

Three Minute Thesis: 4–7 August 2014

The Three Minute Thesis competition is run for postgraduate students in universities worldwide, with 2010 marking the first year of involvement for the University of Auckland in a Trans-Tasman/Pacific competition that saw 23 universities meet at the niversity of Queensland for the grand finals. As the name suggests, competitors are given just three minutes in which to explain the gist of their theses. One single static PowerPoint slide is permitted as a visual aid.

Entries are open to confirmed doctoral candidates only, and as a result, the university is looking at expanding this competition to include masters and provisional year doctorate students.

The competition is structured in heats with a university final, with the winner then going on to the Trans-Tasman/Pacific Grand Final.

The University of Auckland winner this year was Lawrence Xu from the Faculty of Arts, School of Humanities – Ancient History. His presentation was entitled ‘Heroes of Might and Magic – The Epic-ness of Demotic Stories’. He will be flown to Australia to compete in the Trans-Tasman/Pacific competition, with the University of Western Australia, Perth hosting the 2014 Grand Finals on 3 November 2014.

Doctoral Information Evening – 8 October 2014

The Faculty of Education is holding a Doctoral Information Evening on 8 October. The faculty will be launching the new inquiry pathway into the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership for Educational Professional Practice (this is a professional doctorate for teachers and senior leaders in schools to undertake research part-time).

Exposure Postgraduate Research Exposition: 13–16 October 2014

Beginning in 2003, Exposure Postgraduate Research Exposition celebrates academic and artistic excellence by giving students the chance to showcase their work to the public and industry. Exposure is organised by the Postgraduate Students’ Association and the School of Graduate Studies. Held annually, Exposure culminates with a prize-giving gala at the end of the week. In 2013, there were 117 entries in total and more than 200 attendees across all the events. Students are invited to present their research by oral presentation, poster display, or variety showcase.

Postgraduate Fair – May

The Postgraduate Fair is held every May for potential postgraduates and provides an opportunity to meet academics, advisers and current students and talk about our postgraduate research and taught opportunities. All faculties are represented at the fair, along with service divisions such as School of Graduate Studies, Career Development and Employment Services, Scholarships Office, English Language Enrichment, Postgraduate Students Association, and various other clubs and societies.

Celebrating Research Excellence – May

Celebrating Research Excellence is an event held in May in the University of Auckland Marquee. This event is an opportunity to celebrate the research undertaken by students and University staff members. During the event, various awards and prizes are given away: Best Doctoral Thesis, Early Career Research Excellence, Research Excellence Award, and the Commercialisation Medal. Each year, there is a theme that is addressed in the official speeches. There are also research displays aligned with the theme, illustrating the diversity of the university research projects. The attendance varies between 250 and 300 people (mainly from the university but also from funders, charities, and politicians). For several years in a row, the Hon Steven Joyce has given a speech and presented the commercialisation medals to the recipients.

Massey University: Hui

A two-day hui to foster intellectual connections and peer support among Massey’s education doctoral students was held at the Manawatū campus earlier this year.

Around 25 doctoral researchers – half of all those enrolled in education-related doctoral research at Massey’s Institute of Education – took part.

Organiser Professor Margaret Walshaw, an expert in mathematics education and coordinator of institute’s doctoral research programme, says the aim of the hui was to enhance students’ skills and knowledge. It also provided opportunities for face-to-face intellectual exchange between doctoral researchers who tend to work in isolation over long periods, often far from fellow academics and supervisors.

“We offer two doctoral programmes – the PhD [Doctor of Philosophy] and the EdD [Doctor of Education] – within the institute, and since students come from around New Zealand, they don’t get much opportunity to meet their peers. We feel it’s important to build a community of researchers by bringing our doctoral candidates together to share ideas and learn from each other in their research areas,” she says.

A doctoral thesis typically takes three or four years of full-time research and writing to complete, and will take longer for part-time students with other commitments and responsibilities.

The programme included workshops on research methods, data management, and presentation, as well as presentations on writing from expert researchers and talks from current and former doctoral students. It also included sessions on health and wellbeing and doctoral processes.

Participants travelled from around the North Island to attend, and the group included international students from Tonga, Thailand, Tanzania, India, and Saudi Arabia.

Doctoral candidate Catherine Syms, from Auckland, says the event was highly rewarding, giving her the chance to discuss her research with others. In her research she is exploring a model for the teaching of values, ethics and religions in New Zealand schools to address diverse adolescent perspectives and world views.

Among other doctoral thesis topics discussed were an analysis of the impact of policies and practices on Māori students in mainstream schools, professional education in nursing and maths anxiety.

Otago Polytechnic: International Food Design Experience

Otago Polytechnic’s International Food Design Experience (Conference and Studio) was a progressive forum where chefs, cooking enthusiasts, researchers, and designers came together and explored cutting edge culinary arts, and the inspiring stories and creative concepts that coincided. Leading international designer Emilie Baltz was the keynote, along with a number of other renowned national and international chefs and designers.

CPIT: Research month – 4-28 August 2014.

The programme for CPIT’s Research Month journeyed through topics covering business, language, visual arts, sustainability, science, music, teaching and learning, sports science and the caring professions.

CPIT staff were encouraged to disseminate the findings of their research, which is geared towards practical applications in a variety of sectors, from a cancer zapping technology to a culturally appropriate new way for non-Māori to introduce themselves in mihi.

Students joined in the action, pitching a project for the chance to win up to $300 towards their research project.

This year, CPIT’s Research Month introduced the Great Debate, pitting creative and applied science tutors against each other to find out whether science is more creative than art. 

Monica Peters – citizen science researcher

In addition to winning the University of Waikato’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition in 2013,

PhD candidate Monica Peters also won a $3000 Fulbright New Zealand Travel Award this year. The scholarship will allow her to attend the 34th International North American Lake Management Society Symposium in Tampa, Florida in November where she will present her research into citizen science and water quality monitoring.

Monica’s PhD research is inspired by volunteer community groups throughout New Zealand that are carrying out environmental restoration in degraded landscapes such as gullies, lakes, wetlands, and forests. She is exploring whether their ‘citizen science’ monitoring data can be integrated with ‘professional science’ data to build a more complete picture of environmental health.

Phoebe Leyten – music for the deaf community research

CPIT Bachelor of Music Arts student Phoebe Leyten received $300 for winning CPIT’s Research Month’s Pitch a Project competition with her research into how the deaf community experience music.
The premise of Phoebe’s project was that if we challenge the concept of what music is, we might explore other ways of experiencing music.
“A lot of people don’t relate music to deaf people because they assume music can only be heard. My mother is deaf, which is a driving factor for me. She has always been such a visual person and creative – she does mime – so I wanted to explore the visual interpretation of music through performance, live art, and interpretative sign language.”


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