The COGNITION INSTITUTE developed out of the Cognition Education Research Trust (2006), was a forerunner of the current Cognition Education Trust (formed in 2011). The vision was to be a thought leader in education, fostering encouraging and facilitating quality education research and policy to improve teaching and learning in New Zealand’s schools. The mission was to inform and influence discussion, practice and policy in education, based on high quality research and evidence. The Institute strove to connect educational practice, policy and research to improve educational outcomes in New Zealand and internationally.

National Excellence in Teaching Awards

Established in 2005, ago, the biennial NEiTA awards programme, co-sponsored by the Cognition Education Trust and by Actions, Solutions, Growth: (ASG) Education Programs New Zealand, encouraged teaching excellence and gave communities a way to publicly recognise their inspirational teachers and leaders.
Over time, NEiTA’s purpose was overtaken by the Prime Minister’s Education Excellence Awards, and ended in 2014.

2014 Awards

ASG National Excellence in Education Awards

Christine Alford,  Mairtown Kindergarten, Whangarei
Glynis Knox, Frankton Primary School, Hamilton
Ian Torrie, St Cuthbert’s College,Epsom, Auckland
Elena Warnock, Russell St School, Palmerston North
Tina Youngman, Paeroa College, Waikato
Cognition Education Trust National Excellence in Leadership Awards
Terry Consedine, Aquinas College, Tauranga
Brent Griffin,  Western Heights Primary School, Rotorua
Kelly-Anne Lambert, Miracles Childcare and Learning Centre, Henderson, Auckland
Martin O’Grad,  Karamu High School,Hastings
Elizabeth Weir,  Springston Primary School, Canterbury
Regional Awards
ASG Excellence in Teaching Awards
  Early Childhood
Christine Alford - Mairtown kindergarten, Whangarei
Jane Ratai - Cornerstone Preschool,  Gisborne
Lynda Hopkin - Miramar Community Creche, Wellington
Primary and Intermediate
Christine Earnshaw  - Bruce McLaren Intermediate, Henderson, Auckland
Mehar Nabi, Royal Oak Intermediate, Auckland
Glynis Knox, Frankton Primary School Hamilton
Elly Warnock,  Russell Street School, Palmerston North
Fiona Cook, Parklands Primary School, Motueka, Nelson
Rose Waerea, Bream Bay College Ruakaka, Northland
Ian Torrie, St Cuthbert’s College, Epsom, Auckland
Tina Youngman, Paeroa College, Waikato
Annie McCreary,  Nayland College, Nelson
Cognition Excellence in Leadership 
  Early Childhood
Kelly-Anne Lambert , Apples Childcare Learning Centre, Henderson, Auckland
Mary-Rose O’Loughlin, Westport Kindergarten
Jane Craig, Tokomaru Early Childhood Centre
Susan Whysall , Owairaka District Primary School, Mt Albert, Auckland
Charlotte Castle, Redhill Primary School, Papakura, Auckland
Glynis Knox, Frankton Primary School, Hamilton
Brent Griffin, Western Heights Primary School, Rotorua
Elizabeth Weir, Springston Primary School,  Canterbury
Peter Hopwood ,  Donovan Primary School, Invercargill
Petrina Thomas-Chisholm, Otumoetai College, Tauranga
Terry Consedine, Aquinas Collage, Tauranga
Martin O’Grady, Karamu High School, Hastings
Melissa Bell, St Hilda’s Collegiate School, Dunedin

2012 Awards

Early Childhood

Carol Hartley,  Mangere Bridge Kindergarten, Auckland
Aroaro Tamati Te Kōpae Piripono Māori Immersion Early Childhood Centre, Moturoa, New Plymouth
Cognition Education Leadership National Awards
Primary / Intermediate
Erin Cairns, Ruru Special School, Invercargill
Chris Riley, Tawhiti Primary School, Hawera, Taranaki
Susan Hassall, Hamilton Boys’ High School
Regional Awards 
Carla van Beek
 Erin Cairns
Chris Riley
Susan Hassall
Kelly Pye
Joanna Morris
Vicky Brown
Carol Hartley
Andrew Shortcliffe
Aroaro Tamati,
Ray Kelly.
Maree Edwards
Glen Parr
Francis Pye
Patrick Boyle
Perenise Tapu
Cheryl Kingi
Gareth Bell
Mark Shanahan

Fulbright New Zealand-Cognition Awards

Fulbright New Zealand was established in 1948 to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the United States of America. The programme is mainly funded by the US and New Zealand governments with additional funding from award sponsors, private philanthropists and alumni donors. The Fulbright-Cognition Award partnership ran from 2008 to 2014.

2014 Award

The 2014 Fulbright-Cognition Scholar Award in Education Research was awarded to Michael Harcourt from Wellington High School. Michael was hosted by The City University of New York for the first half of 2015 to explore how students’ ethnic identities shape their understanding of the contested history of race relations. Michael’s first goal was to collaborate with Terrie Epstein, a leading US academic on culturally responsive history education, to interpret data about the relationship between New Zealand students’ ethnic identities and their understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi. His second goal was to learn from US teachers about how they teach contested events in America’s complex history of racial conflict in multicultural classrooms.

See Michael's  report :Towards a culturally responsive and place-conscious theory of history teaching.

2013 Award

Sue Smith, Deputy Principal at Chelsea Primary School, North Shore, Auckland,  researched how teachers mediate and students perceive the results of formative assessments, at the University of Maryland, College Park.

In an environment of standardised testing, how do teachers mediate and students perceive formative assessment feedback, especially when from an external source?

A study of N.Z. primary students' perceptions of a formative e-assessment test’s feedback revealed an overemphasis on grades was evident, often accompanied by anxiety. This detracts from formative assessment's purpose of providing feedback to inform learners of what has been achieved and what needs to be learnt next. Students were also beginning to apply terminology and grades from the newly introduced National Standards, to classroom-based formative assessment activities. With its history of wide-scale standardised testing, gaining an understanding of teacher mediation and student reactions to assessment tools used in the US will help guide N.Z. educators' classroom practice.
Read Sue's report : In an environment of standardised testing, how do teachers mediate and students perceive formative assessment feedback, especially when from an external source?

2012 Award

Wanganui High School assistant principal Jenny Langrish spent four months in the United States   studying Positive Behavior For Learning (PB4L), specifically with Dr Tim Lewis at the University of Missouri . As the team leader of PB4L at her school, she had developed a keen interest in promoting and developing the Identified behavior management strategies and philosophies. Her goal was to research the implementation of the programme in the USA and draw comparisons for the future development of the initiative in New Zealand.

PB4L provided programmes and initiatives for schools, teachers and parents across the country to promote positive behaviour in children and young people with the aim that improving learner behaviour and their home and school/early childhood centre environments leads to improved engagement and achievement.
PB4L was a joint initiative between a number of education sector organisations, led by the Ministry of Education. Programmes and initiatives were delivered by the Ministry of Education in partnership with non-governmental organisations, early childhood sector organisations and Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour.
Read Jenny's report  Lessons to be learnt: A study of American school-wide positivebehaviour support initiatives.

2011 Award

Victoria University of Wellington academic Kate Thornton, explored the role of mentoring in supporting new teachers and developing education leadership at an American non-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of teacher and school leader effectiveness.  Kate spent three months in August 2012 at the New Teacher Center in Santa Cruz, California, observing the Center’s teacher induction and school leadership development programmes.

The use of mentoring to support teacher leadership is well established and the subject of considerable research in the United States, and the New Teacher Center has served nearly 50,000 teachers and 5,000 mentors since its establishment in 1998. By observing the Center’s programmes and interviewing both mentor and teacher participants, Kate identified factors for the training and support of effective teacher mentors that could be applied in the New Zealand education sector, where an ability to show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning is required of all registered teachers.

As well as ultimately improving student learning, mentoring can help attrition rates for new teachers by improving self-reflection, problem-solving, confidence and professional growth. The New Teacher Center’s programmes have achieved long-term new teacher retention rates as high as 95%, compared to a nationwide dropout rate of nearly 50% in the United States. Mentoring relationships are shown to provide similar benefits professionally to mentors as their mentees.

A former  National President of the New Zealand Educational Administration and Leadership Society (NZEALS), Kate works at the forefront of educational leadership across all sectors from early childhood to tertiary education. She teaches courses on educational leadership and mentoring and coaching at Victoria University’s Faculty of Education, and has worked for many years on mentoring and leadership among early childhood education teachers.

2010 Award

Ngaire Addis from Havelock North High School and Dr Veronica O’Toole from the University of Canterbury each spent several months in the US conducting research aimed at improving aspects of the schooling system in New Zealand.

Ngaire Addis, a senior teacher at Havelock North High School who was completing her doctorate through Massey University, researched how mathematics achievement data was used by leaders of American high schools to improve teaching and learning. New Zealand schools are faced with the new challenge of how to integrate National Standards for Mathematics and Literacy into daily practise with a view to improving student achievement. Ngaire tapped into the experiences of school leaders in America, where educational policy and school management are already focused around systems of standards, testing and public reporting of results.

Dr Veronica O’Toole a lecturer at the University of Canterbury’s School of Educational Studies and Human Development,  visited two American universities – Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut – to work with experts there and developed a research-informed emotional literacy programme to improve social and emotional wellbeing across whole New Zealand school communities, from school leaders and teachers down to students. She trialed a programme in several Christchurch primary schools after returning to New Zealand.

2009 Award

Mount Albert Primary School principal Enosa Auva’a, researched ethnic minority leadership in American schools at the University of Hawai‘i to identify ways to inspire more minority school leaders in New Zealand. Research has shown that the diversity of students in New Zealand schools is not reflected in leadership roles, where Mäori and Pacific people are under-represented in both senior management and principalship positions. 

A primary school principal since 1991, Mr Auva’a’s Educational Leadership and Management master’s thesis was entitled Aspiring towards principalship: A Pacific Island perspective. His research found only 1.1% of the 2,700 principals leading New Zealand schools to be of Pacific Island origin, compared to around 10% of students. Mr Auva’a’s Fulbright research studied the stories and experiences of minority school leaders in the US, to find out how aspiring minority teachers are encouraged towards leadership positions including principalship. Mr Auva’a believed that minority leadership in education is a serious concern in New Zealand recognising that ethnic minority leaders can make a significant contribution in efforts to raise student achievement, by role modeling success and achieving rapport with ethnic communities and families.
Read Enos'a report : Leaders for a Diverse Society: Minority Aspiration – A Pacific Island Principal's Perspective.

2008 Award

Jenny Horsley, from Victoria University of Wellington spent three months at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth in Baltimore, where she investigated American models for increasing representation of ethnic minorities.  International research has shown that culturally diverse students and students from low socio-economic areas are under-represented in programmes for gifted children. NZQA statistics confirm that Mäori and Pasifika students achieve at lower levels than their Päkeha counterparts, and that students of Decile 1 schools achieve at lower levels than those of Decile 10 schools.

Jenny hoped oped her research would help improve levels of educational achievement amongst high ability, culturally diverse and/or economically disadvantaged New Zealand students. 

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth was established in 1979 to focus on the needs of students with exceptionally high academic abilities, and is a leader in supplying programmes that address the skill and knowledge gaps in under-represented gifted students. The Center is one of several similar organisations involved in the Next Generation Venture Fund, a programme which identifies high potential students from diverse backgrounds and provides training, advice and support pathways from their middle school years through to college. Jenny,  who herself has extensive teaching experience, published results of her research and incorporated her findings into the teacher training at Victoria University. Her research and teaching have emphasised a need for cultural inclusiveness in the classroom.

Read Jenny's report:  
Out-of-level achievement: The case for acceleration in New Zealandsecondary schools.