Gang lecture evaluation

This is an evaluation for a guest lecture about gangs delivered by Harry Tam for CRIM 212: Crime and Criminal Justice in New Zealand, at Victoria University of Wellington, in March 2017.


CRIM 212: Crime and Criminal Justice in New Zealand explores criminal activity in the New Zealand context and critically examines the institutions, agents and practices of New Zealand’s criminal justice system. It is a compulsory course for students who are majoring in criminology at Victoria. I have co-ordinated the course for the past four trimesters it has been offered.

In 2017, I asked Harry Tam to give a guest lecture on the subject of gangs for the course, to which he agreed. I gave Harry notes for the lecture I had given on gangs in previous years and a brief to structure his talk in any way he thought would be appropriate. He chose to talk about the beginnings of the Mongrel Mob in New Zealand.

We didn’t plan to evaluate the lecture, so this evaluation is a collation of impromptu comments made by students to me both directly after the lecture and during the remaining time the course was running. I will note at this point that I have a number of guest speakers come in to deliver lectures on topics relating to their areas of expertise for the course (and in the two other courses I co-ordinate), and that Harry’s lecture prompted the best feedback I have ever received about a guest talk.

Directly after the lecture, several students approached Harry in order to speak to him. As there was only a couple of minutes before we had to leave the room, a couple of these students missed engaging with Harry and so they spoke to me instead. This is what they said:

  • “Wow, that was so good.”
  • “That was brilliant. Thank you so much for getting Harry to come and do the lecture.”

I received the following emails shortly after the lecture:

  • “Please pass on my interest in Harry’s lecture and helping out with his research in anyway. Absolutely loved the lecture!”
  • “I thought I would email to say that I personally enjoyed the lecture immensely and I would like to thank you for providing this form of opportunity to our course. I feel that having a different perspective on gangs in New Zealand, particularly direct from a lifelong member, is something that is beneficial when looking at topics like this. I hope that you still consider doing something similar to this in future lectures/years, as it has helped me immensely to remember the limitations of criminological research, and research in general, alongside the fact that the lecture itself, whilst structurally differed from an academic lecture, was extremely interesting and I feel has helped my learning a lot.”
  • “I am in your CRIM212 class that you take and I would just like to thank you and Harry for Tuesday’s lecture. I would like to say that I really appreciated the opportunity that we were given. It was great to hear such a unique perspective and I took a lot away from the lecture.”
  • “I was just wondering if any notes will be put up on Black Board from the lecture on gangs.  I did take some but my problem was I was too interested in what he was saying the notes I did take are a bit vague.”

In a formal evaluation of the overall course, students were asked to provide comment on the strengths of the course. Several students mentioned Harry’s lecture and the positive contribution it made:

  • “Not only have academic lecturers who are specialised in each field, but having, for example, someone who knows first-hand about gangs and gang culture – I feel I was most stimulated in the course in this particular lecture, as it was interesting to see a perspective that wasn’t from an academic/research position.”
  • “Having guest lecturers in to talk about certain topics like Fiona and Harry.”
  • “It was interesting having guest speakers in which interested me, especially the gangs lecture.”

Overall evaluation statement

Harry’s lecture for CRIM 212 was undeniably successful.

The student feedback shows that the authentic and honest story that he told was especially valuable for their learning about gangs. From my perspective, Harry delivered the kind of guest lecture that one wishes all guest lecturers gave: engaging and articulate, and packed with critical insight.

I have asked Harry to give the ‘Gangs’ lecture again for CRIM 212 in 2018 (and really hope that he is available and willing).


Sarah Monod de Froideville

November 2017