At the top of the class

At the top of the class

Queen’s physicist James Fraser receives prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship.

By Chris Moffatt Armes

February 16, 2017


Queen’s professor James Fraser (Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy) has received the prestigious 3M National Teaching Fellowship from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE). Dr. Fraser is the eighth Queen’s professor to be made a 3M Fellow, with the most recent being John Smol (Biology) in 2009.

“The 3M National Teaching Fellowship recognizes exceptional academics who go above and beyond to foster a stimulating educational experience for their students,” says Daniel Woolf, Principal and Vice-Chancellor at Queen’s. “Dr. Fraser works tirelessly to instill an appreciation and understanding of physics in his students – encouraging them to participate as active partners in the exchange of knowledge. On behalf of the entire Queen’s community, I wish him our most sincere congratulations on this distinguished award.”

Throughout his career, Dr. Fraser has received praise and recognition for his unique, student-driven approach to teaching. As opposed to the traditional lecture format, in which students are presented with information to absorb, Dr. Fraser uses the assigned readings and the questions that they raise to guide the teaching process. By encouraging small group collaboration and discussion, the students are able to apply what they have learned and work through questions in a way that promotes a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

“It is a tremendous honour to be named a 3M National Teaching Fellow,” says Dr. Fraser “I am truly grateful for the immense support and encouragement I’ve received during my teaching career from my departmental colleagues, my teaching assistants and the students themselves.”

Dr. Fraser was previously awarded the 2016 Medal for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Physics from the Canadian Association of Physicists, and the Queen’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2012. He is also a recipient of the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award.

Dr. Fraser’s receipt of the 3M Fellowship is the latest major achievement for the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy – which has helped Queen’s cement its reputation as a world leader in research and education in the field. Queen’s is home to 2015 Nobel Prize recipient Art McDonald, as well as Gilles Gerbier, the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Particle Astrophysics. In 2016, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund provided Queen’s with a significant investment to support the creation of the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (CPARC).

"I can't think of a more deserving recipient of this award than James,” says Marc Dignam, head of the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy. “Since his arrival in the Department, he has been a driving force behind the continual innovation and renewal of our courses.  His impact on the first year physics course, in particular, cannot be overstated.  I firmly believe that his innovative, student-focused approach has not only improved the learning outcomes and student satisfaction in this key course, but has also resulted in significant growth in physics majors at Queen's."

Queen’s recognizes the importance of promoting active learning and student engagement to enhancing the student learning experience. Experiential learning activities help students apply what they have learned inside the classroom and allow them to deepen their knowledge and skills. This commitment to experiential learning is exemplified through a wide range of practical, hands-on learning opportunities embedded in academic programs – such as such as internships, practica and service learning.

The 3M National Teaching Fellowship is amongst the most prestigious recognitions of excellence in educational leadership and teaching in the post-secondary sector. Founded in 1986 through a partnership between the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada, up to ten Canadian academics annually are named fellows. Fellows become life members of the society – taking part in its annual meeting and working to create new ways to foster academic excellence.

For more information on the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, please visit the website.


Arts and Science