2011-2012 OCUFA Teaching and Academic Librarianship Awards

This blog entry was actually posted on December 9, 2015.

This article is from the WLUFA Advocate 1.2 December 2012.

Each year the OCUFA, representing faculty associations across Ontario, recognizes outstanding teachers and
academic librarians in Ontario universities. Since 1973 OCUFA has presented 359 awards

Dr. Eileen Wood, Professor,
Psychology Department

Eileen Wood holds a BA in Psychology, and an MA in Developmental Psychology, both from the University of Western Ontario and a PhD in Instructional Psychology from Simon Fraser University.
My background in an innovative, cross-disciplinary doctoral program in Instructional Psychology serves as a cornerstone for my current re-search studying how people acquire, retain and recollect information.

My keen desire to understand how people learn and how instructors facilitate learning are the driving forces in my academic career with research and practice going hand-in-hand, each informing the other.

My role changes to meet the class-room context and the students’ abilities and interests.

Integral to my approach is that I need to draw upon the wealth of prior knowledge and experiences that students bring to class to make new material more meaningful and memorable.

If I can engage them in a way that encourages them to integrate new material within their existing knowledge and build upon strengths already there, then the task of learning becomes easier and more accessible.

I try many different instructional practices to engage students in the learning process, including group work, Integrating technologies within the classroom, hands on experiments, discussion and demonstrations.

I also teach memory strategies, critical base questions, and other techniques so that students ‘learn how to learn’ more effectively.

I also build in formal mechanisms to encourage students to ask questions they have always wondered about as a means to engage them; I answer whatever questions I can which often means going beyond my own expertise — in many cases to other experts — to get answers.

By modelling my own practice of seeking answers to their questions, students learn that we are all life-long learners.

I encourage this ‘asking of questions’ because I believe curiosity is the foundation through which we grow passion and persistence in learning, and since learning can and should also be playful, play, humour and fun are core to how I structure any classroom.

Finally, as one who thoroughly enjoys her career, I bring that love of learning and enthusiasm to my classrooms.

Dr. Stephen MacNeil,
Associate Professor,
Department of Chemistry

Stephen MacNeil was inspired to be an organic chemist by an introductory class taught by Dr. David Sneddon at University College of Cape Breton. After completing his undergraduate degree at Acadia University, his MSc at University of Waterloo and his PhD at Queen’s University, Stephen was engaged in post-doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before taking up an assistant professorship at WLU in 2003.

My approach to teaching (and student learning) can be summed up by the following Ancient Chinese Proverb: “Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.” I believe that my primary role as a university instructor is not to teach my students every concept in a course but, instead, to provide them with the resources to learn many of the concepts on their own.

I ask students to accept significant responsibility for their own learning and my courses are designed in such a way that they have more control over their learning.

For example, my courses are supported by video lectures that I created to allow students to learn course material when and where they want instead of forcing them to take it all in during class time.

Availability of these videos allows me to dedicate more time to critical thinking and problem solving strategies in class.

Frequent opportunities for self-assessment (e.g., pre- and post-class on-line homework, in-class clicker questions, and immediate feedback while taking multiple choice tests) help students to identify strengths and weaknesses and develop strategies for addressing those weaknesses.

My teaching approach encourages students to engage with me, the course and each other on a regular basis and in so doing to develop (or improve) time management skills.

My ultimate goal as an instructor is to teach students skills and habits that will serve them well long after they have left my course.

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