Fostering excellence in teaching and learning

Fostering excellence in teaching and learning

Winners of the 2018 Principal's Teaching and Learning Awards are committed to enhancing the student learning experience at Queen's.

By Communications Staff

October 12, 2018


The 2018 recipients of the Principal’s Teaching and Learning Awards have been announced with categories recognizing excellence in educational leadership, student support, promoting student inquiry, international innovation, and curriculum development.

The awards, administered by the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), recognize individuals and teams who have shown exceptional innovation and leadership in teaching and learning at Queen’s.

“I commend this year’s award recipients on their deep commitment to enhancing the student learning experience at Queen’s” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “There is a great deal of work taking place to foster excellence in teaching and learning across the university and I am delighted that these awards not only recognize these efforts but may also help raise the profile of this initiative.”

Formal presentation of the awards will take place at the Teaching Awards Reception to be held in January 2019.

The recipients are:

Educational Leadership Award
Laura Murray, Department of English Language and Literature

Over the last three years Laura Murray (English Language and Literature, Cultural Studies) has clearly displayed educational leadership through her commitment to engaging students and the community with the treaty history of Kingston/Ka’tarokwi as an essential part of fulfilling Queen’s responsibility to Truth and Reconciliation. In 2016 she devised a new course, ENGL467, “Settler and Indigenous Stories of Kingston/Ka’tarokwi” to involve students in research into the treaty history of Kingston and surrounding area, and also to engage them in thinking about the implications of that history. This course received support from the Principal’s Dream Course program in order to sponsor the participation of elders and Indigenous scholars to enrich students’ experience and learning. While teaching the second iteration of the Principal’s Dream Course she had begun reimagining the course for wider audiences. The Department of English has begun a new stream of ENGX courses for students without the ENGL 100 prerequisite, and Dr. Murray designed the first course to enable students from all disciplines across the university to participate in better understanding the Indigenous/Settler history of the land on which they are pursuing their degrees. At the same time she has developed a graduate version of the course for her interdisciplinary teaching in Cultural Studies.

Michael Condra Outstanding Student Service Award
Vanessa McCourt, Indigenous Advisor, Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre

As an alumna and a current staff member at Queen’s, Vanessa McCourt is dedicated to creating a campus where Indigenous students can thrive. She has worked at the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre since 2007 and is currently the Indigenous Advisor, a role that serves as the main point of contact for Indigenous students who are looking for academic, personal or financial support. Throughout her time at Queen’s, Ms. McCourt has been involved in or led a number of key projects and initiatives, including, in partnership with Residence Life, the establishment of the Bimaadiziwin Ka’nikonhriyo Living Learning Community. Beyond student-focused work, Ms. McCourt was critical to the development and release of the Queen’s Truth and Reconciliation Task Force’s Final Report. As one of the staff members on the task force her contributions shaped the Calls to Action that are currently being implemented across campus and will have an impact on Indigenous students and the Queen’s community for years to come.

Curriculum Development Award
Multidisciplinary Blended Learning Statistics Team
William Nelson, Department of Biology
Randy Flanagan, Department of Psychology
Alan Ableson, Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Wanda Beyer, Faculty of Arts and Science Online
Erik Bigras, Faculty of Arts and Science Online
Julian Enright, Faculty of Arts and Science Online
Rachel Eagen, Faculty of Arts and Science Online
Nadia Morel, Faculty of Arts and Science Online

For decades introductory statistics has been offered separately by a wide range of departments within the Faculty of Arts and Science as well as across the university. In response a team was formed to develop a common multidisciplinary statistics course. In addition to gaining efficiencies, this presented an opportunity to rethink how statistics was taught relative to contemporary and evidence-based pedagogy. The course is delivered using blended learning with a focus on active learning. The multidisciplinary course was developed and is delivered using a collaborative team-based approach. The team includes faculty members from multiple departments, an instructional designer, a learning management specialist, multimedia specialists and undergraduate and graduate assistants. Students are first guided through statistical concepts with interactive online materials, followed by attending a weekly lecture and face-to-face tutorials where they work in small groups to solve problems using data from real case studies. Importantly, the course emphasizes instructor-learner interaction through weekly tutorials where instructors lead and facilitate groups working on ‘real-world’ problems, and Monday-Friday drop-in help sessions with faculty.

Promoting Student Inquiry Teaching Award
David Parker, Department of History

Research skills are among the most important learning outcomes for undergraduate courses, no matter the discipline. David Parker continually demonstrates the ability to forge independent researchers out of undergraduate students. Dr. Parker engages his students, inspires them, and endows them with the tools and the support required to chart their own path as learners. In the course HIST 353: Revolutions and Civil Wars in 20th Century Latin America, Dr. Parker took the standard research paper and broke it down in an innovative manner, creating an ambitious yet feasible challenge for his students. The whole course was structured to ensure that they were equipped to meet this challenge. By the term’s end, the students had not only produced top notch research papers, but had, as one student put it, “experienced the process of original historical research first hand to a high standard.” Looking at the course’s syllabus, it seems like a standard historical seminar. Upon closer reflection, however, it becomes clear that the whole course has been conceived with one principal goal in mind: creating independent researchers.

Promoting Student Inquiry Teaching Award 2017
Lindsay Morcom, Faculty of Education

Lindsay Morcom brings her passion for Indigenous ways of knowing to all her classes. She believes in supporting her students so they can determine their learning needs, think critically about their role as students and teachers and share their learning through collaborative, student-led activities and assignments. In her course EDST201, Theory of Aboriginal Education, Dr. Morcom begins by asking students what they want to learn and then redesigns the curriculum to address the learning needs of each student. This iterative approach reflects Indigenous pedagogy, supporting the intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual learning needs of students. Throughout the course, students are provided with opportunities to present their learning through methods of their choosing, such as a traditional research paper, video, podcast, or Prezi. Although suggested topics are available, students are encouraged to develop research questions that reflect their personal interest and experience of Indigenous education. Indigenous pedagogy is woven throughout the course. Students are taught how to teach the K-12 curriculum through experiential approaches which leverage craft and Indigenous traditions.

International Education Innovation Award
Yuxiang Wang and Stephen Lougheed, Department of Biology

Steven Lougheed (Biology) and Yuxiang Wang (Biology) developed the field course Effects of human development on aquatic environments and biodiversity in Canada and China. More than a biology course, it is a multifaceted international experience coupled with intensive scientific training in environmental biology, through which students from many backgrounds are brought together to study the environment in the field, in locations in both Canada and China. Over the past decade, the duo have developed a course which has not only had significant impact on Queen’s students, it has also built strong relationships between faculty in the School of Environmental Studies and Department of Biology at Queen’s, and with their counterparts at a number of prestigious institutions in China, including Tongji University, Beijing Normal University, Southwest University, and Fudan University. Queen’s signed its first undergraduate “two plus two” agreement in Environmental Science as a result of this course, leading to the development of other 2+2 programs and several study abroad agreements, enabling students to study for two years at each partner institution.