Differences in New Zealand’s teaching style
What is the teaching style in New Zealand like? Students explain some of the differences in New Zealand compared to their home countries.
Laid back and open communication
The teaching style in New Zealand is quite different from my university in the US. Much like the stereotypical idea of New Zealand, it is very laid back.
Many days I would stress about being on time when most of my professors were even a bit late to class. After two months I finally realised this and tried to be easier on myself.
Much like my home university, though, the professors were very open and communicated with us all the time. They were very open to changing due dates if we needed an extension.
Samantha Ross is a US study abroad student studying fine arts with a photography major at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin
In New Zealand, we had a very hands-on approach to learning. We spent very little time in lectures, instead going out into the ecosystems we studied each week. Normally, large class sizes and limited budgets prevent such an intensive way of learning.
I found that not only was I having tons of fun, I also learned so much more when I could touch and see what I was learning. This included going for hikes, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, performing conservation work, and doing fieldwork across the country.
Taylor Lindsey is a US study abroad student studying at Ecoquest in Kaiaua, near Auckland
Class size and assignments
I was slightly overwhelmed the first week of classes at Victoria. I was not thrown by the class material or workload, instead, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the student body at Victoria. I come from a school that has around 7,000 total students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs.
Thus, starting at Victoria, which has a student body over three times the size of my home university was like being thrown into another world. Having classes with more than 50 people in them is something I rarely experienced at home, so it took me a week or so to adjust to that.
The professors also do not take attendance or work endlessly to memorise every student's name, that is for your tutors to worry about. Tutors teach in the tutorials, which often are compulsory, and are weekly in addition to your other courses.
The professors also do not check to make sure you have completed your assignments and readings, and will not come to you each class and encourage you to complete them if you did not. Getting your assigned work done is all on you, and they expect you to work on your time management and to find the schedule that works best for you to complete everything you deem necessary to pass their classes.
Class time was about the same length as it is at my home university, but my classes at Victoria were all lectures, and there was not a lot of Socratic class discussions or periods of engagement on the material covered for the day, and most questions were left for the end of class.
Emily Watkins is a US study abroad student studying political science, government & international relations at Victoria University in Wellington
About the contributors
Samantha studied fine arts with a photography major at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin. Samantha won a GSAITPEA scholarship.
Taylor studied at Ecoquest in Kaiaua, near Auckland. Taylor won an Education New Zealand Travel Award.
Emily Watkins, from the United States, studied political science, government and international relations at Victoria University in Wellington.