Dr Anthony Collins.

UKZN Psychology Lecturer within the School of Applied Human Sciences, Dr Anthony Collins, was recently awarded one of five Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) National Excellence in Teaching and Learning Awards. 

This is the first time a UKZN academic has won one of the awards.

Collins, a recipient of the UKZN Distinguished Teachers Award, was nominated for the University’s award by both his undergraduate and postgraduate psychology students before being nominated for the National award.

In a course evaluation, one of his students said: ‘He did more than teach, he brought his soul into the course. I’ve never seen someone so engaged not only with the work but with the class as well. He really wants a better world and that’s what many lecturers lack today: genuine concern and the ability to make a difference.’

In his response to the nomination and his award, Collins said: ‘This award is really significant to me because I believe that good teaching is important both for students and the society, and I put a lot of energy into it. And I am glad that the students I have taught have valued my courses.’

Collins said it was important teaching bodies such as HELTASA have recognised that universities should be focusing on teaching as much as research production. ‘It is great to see a national grouping trying to nurture teaching in universities, and promoting recognition that teaching is an essential part of academia,’ he added.

The aim of the National Excellence in Teaching and Learning awards was to show support at a national level for excellence in teaching and learning in Higher Education, to generate a cadre of academics who are identifiable and able to provide inspiration and leadership in teaching in their disciplines, institutions and regions and to generate debate and public awareness about what constitutes teaching excellence.

The five award winners each get R30 000 and a certificate at the 2013 HELTASA conference at UNISA from 27–29 November.

Collins is currently involved with the development of bilingual teaching materials for his course modules for psychology students with the possibility of these bilingual teaching materials being extended to other courses over time.

Collins leaves next year after 14 years at UKZN to take up a post of Associate Professor in Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University.