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Dr Michael Johnston

Senior Fellow

Dr Michael Johnston is a Senior Fellow at the New Zealand Initiative. He leads the workstream on education.

Prior to his time at the Initiative, Dr Johnston held academic positions at Victoria University of Wellington from 2011-2022. From 2020 until 2022 he was the Associate Dean (Academic) in the University’s Faculty of Education.

Prior to his time at Victoria, Dr Johnston was the Senior Statistician at the New Zealand Qualifications Authority, a position he held for 6 years. Before that, he was a lecturer in psychology at the University Melbourne and a Research Fellow at Latrobe University.

Dr Johnston holds a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Melbourne.

Phone: 044990790

Email: michael.johnston@nzinitiative.org.nz

Recent Work

Podcast: Free Speech, Education, and Democracy - A Conversation with Toby Young

In this episode, Michael and James talk to Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union in the United Kingdom, the associate editor of The Spectator, and a former editor of Quillette. The discussion spans a wide range of topics including the challenges to free speech in academia, the evolution of charter schools in the UK, and the broader implications for liberal democracy, offering insights into the complex interplay between free expression, education policy, and political shifts in contemporary society. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
Toby Young
4 July, 2024
2024 06 21 AI in education website

Podcast: AI in Education: Navigating the opportunities and risks

This podcast episode is from our recent AI in education webinar where Michael presents his report on generative AI in education, emphasising its potential as a supportive tool while cautioning against replacing traditional learning methods. Prof Barbara Oakley joins as a special guest to provide expert commentary on the cognitive science aspects. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Dr Michael Johnston
Professor Professor Barbara Oakley
21 June, 2024

Webinar: AI in Education: Navigating the opportunities and risks

The New Zealand Initiative's Executive Director Oliver Hartwich interviews Senior Fellow Michael Johnston about his report Welcome to the Machine: The opportunities and risks of generative Artificial Intelligence for Education. Special guest Professor Barbara Oakley also joins their discussion. Read more

Dr Oliver Hartwich
Dr Michael Johnston
Professor Professor Barbara Oakley
Webinar
20 June, 2024
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Welcome to the Machine: Opportunities and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence for Education

This report calls for a science-based approach to using artificial intelligence (AI) in classrooms. This will help schools get the most out of AI while reducing risks to teaching and learning. Welcome to the Machine: Opportunities and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence for Education, written by Senior Fellow Dr Michael Johnston, will help educators and policymakers navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of AI in education. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
17 June, 2024
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Media release: New Research on the Opportunities and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence for Education

EMBARGOED UNTIL 12.00 PM, MONDAY 17 JUNE Wellington (Monday, 17 June 2024) - A new report from The New Zealand Initiative calls for a science-based approach to using artificial intelligence (AI) in classrooms. This will help schools get the most out of AI while reducing risks to teaching and learning. The report, Welcome to the Machine: Opportunities and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence for Education, written by Senior Fellow Dr Michael Johnston, will help educators and policymakers navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of AI in education. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
17 June, 2024
2024 06 07 fixing NZ university funding website

Podcast: Fixing New Zealand's university funding

In this episode, Michael and James talk to Dr Dennis Wesselbaum about issues with New Zealand's current university funding model, which relies heavily on student enrollment numbers. They explore potential reforms to create a more stable and effective system that balances access, workforce preparation, and research excellence. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
Dr Dennis Wesselbaum
7 June, 2024

Podcast: Challenges and solutions in NZ education

In this episode, Michael talks to Craig Dobson, a veteran science teacher, about the changes and challenges in the New Zealand education system over the past three decades. They discuss the impact of education reforms, the evolving role of teachers, issues with student achievement and teacher retention, and potential solutions to improve the system. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Craig Dobson
31 May, 2024
2024 05 23 Jonathan Rauch Website

Podcast: Jonathan Rauch and the Constitution of Knowledge

In this episode, Michael and James talk to Jonathan Rauch, famed American journalist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institute. They discuss the importance of free speech and open debate for the advancement of knowledge and the health of our society. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Dr James Kierstead
Jonathan Rauch
23 May, 2024
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The Platform: Dr Michael Johnston on declining NCEA results, single-sex school advantages, and academic freedom

Dr Michael Johnston talks to Michael Laws on The Platform about recent declining NCEA results in New Zealand and a University of Auckland report showing single-sex schools outperform co-ed schools. Dr Johnston argues the Ministry of Education ignores empirical research due to ideological commitments and fails to address the growing gender gap in academic achievement, with girls significantly outperforming boys. Read more

Dr Michael Johnston
Michael Laws
The Platform
2 May, 2024

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