Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti
1 min ago
Rachel Speedy is a great example of how the University of Waikato and EIT are working together to benefit Hawke’s Bay. The second year EIT Bachelor of Teaching, Early Childhood Education student is currently doing a University of Waikato Summer Research Scholarship project. She is investigating how the natural environment can be used as an effective place to learn not just science, but reading, maths, and other subjects. Rachel is the first EIT student to be awarded a Waikato Summer Research Scholarship, something that Waikato’s Hawke’s Bay-based Director, Belinda Sleight, hopes will become commonplace.
Using the outdoors as a classroom for young people has several benefits. Its tactile, experiential nature enables students to retain and apply the knowledge gained there. Additionally, students develop empathy for the natural environment.
The project is part of a wider initiative, led by EIT and Cape to City, to better equip primary school and early childhood education teachers to use the environment in their teaching practices. In the future, pre-service teachers in EIT’s Bachelor of Teaching (Primary and Early Childhood Education) programmes will learn how to confidently take students into the environment and use it as a resource for their teaching throughout the curriculum.
Guided by Waikato’s Chris Eames and Melissa Brignall-Theyer from Cape to City, Rachel’s project will assist EIT to develop its approach to teacher training outdoors. She is reviewing international and New Zealand-based literature so that developments are informed by the latest knowledge on the topic, compiling a database of existing resources (environmental projects, initiatives, and sites) that can be used by teachers.
“The partnership with EIT and Waikato has been an exciting development for us,” says Melissa Brignall-Theyer, Cape to City engagement workstream lead.
Being involved in a research project has meant learning to deal with large numbers of academic articles that must be found, read, and summarized. “I knew I liked the topic, but this has made me realise how interested I am,” says Rachel noting that the experience has broadened her appreciation of the options for outdoor teaching.
“In 2019 our institutes will be working to streamline processes for recognising each-other’s qualifications for cross crediting and entry to further study across a wider range of academic programmes,” says Belinda.
University of Waikato lecturer, Chris Eames, has found the cross-disciplinary teamwork and the opportunity to work with colleagues in Hawke’s Bay to be very productive, saying “I am delighted with the conversations our team is having and working with Rachel at a distance is proving no barrier to good progress.”