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Educator contributes to student success

The Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award recognizes undergraduate, graduate, or professional teaching that has had an outstanding influence on the quality of student learning at Queen’s University.  

Dr. Fiona Kay, Professor of Sociology
Fiona Kay, a professor in the Department of Sociology, is this year's winner of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award. (Queen's University)

For Fiona Kay, a professor in the Department of Sociology, the drive for sharing knowledge and igniting enthusiasm for learning doesn’t stop at the classroom – it extends into the community and everyday challenges.

As a faculty member who strives to integrate new methods and technology into her teaching practices to support undergraduate, graduate students, and colleagues alike, Dr. Kay has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award.

The Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award recognizes undergraduate, graduate, or professional teaching that has had an outstanding influence on the quality of student learning at Queen’s University. 

“Dr. Kay continues to create a variety of pathways for students to showcase their learning while fostering social connection, collective agency, and intellectual nourishment,” says Klodiana Kolomitro, Associate Vice-Principal (Teaching and Learning). “The different strategies used to connect with students during the pandemic not only engaged students with the university campus and the Kingston community, but gave students an opportunity of having the ‘Queen’s experience.’”

In receiving the award, Dr. Kay was recognized for her excellence in instruction, innovation, leadership, collaboration, and ability to link practical research into her lessons.

Throughout the past 20 years, Dr. Kay has prioritized facilitating student success, refining her teaching methods to support students’ personal growth and development, and their ability to have a positive impact.

“Nothing beats the moment when, in an auditorium, students start raising their hands to ask questions and engage in a dialogue. The whole energy shifts and the lecture becomes a conversation,” Dr. Kay says. “Our world needs more people open-minded to listen and discuss constructively, willing to share ideas and to work collaboratively to seek innovative solutions.”

Innovation in learning

Recognizing a gap in student learning experience due to the pandemic, Dr. Kay adapted teaching processes to stimulate engagement and better prepare students for the workplace. Dr. Kay produced instructional videos which explained grading rubrics, citation formats for social sciences, and writing and grammar tips to help with essay composition. 

Building practical application into course designs, Dr. Kay has widely shared her work integrating community service and volunteerism into social sciences courses.

Leadership and collaboration

Sharing her expertise with other educators, Dr. Kay’s SOCY210 course is currently used by the Centre of Teaching and Learning as a model for best-practices in remote teaching across campus. In her courses, she also emphasizes the importance of group work and peer evaluations, creating open discussions and an inclusive classroom environment that improve accountability and problem-solving.

During her time at Queen’s Dr. Kay has served as Undergraduate Chair and as a member of the Curriculum Committee for the Faculty of Arts and Science, the Academic Integrity and Conduct Panel, the Board of Studies, as well as the Faculty Mentorship program and the Arts and Science Academic Orientation Committee. 

Research application

Intent on making faculty research accessible and enabling student involvement in university research activities, Dr. Kay developed new course proposals to fill in gaps in programming by offering students opportunities to connect their employment experiences with the topics explored in the classroom.

Along with receiving positive student assessments and evaluations during her career, Dr. Kay has also played an important mentorship role in supervising of 31 masters students, five PhD students, and 32 undergraduate honours theses students.

More information about the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award, including eligibility requirements, is available on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.