Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
At this year’s Spring Convocation, Brock will honour six faculty members for their exceptional contributions to teaching — the cornerstone of the university’s reputation for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education.
“This year’s Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching recipients provide our students with the best educational experience possible — one that nurtures and develops both sides of the brain,” says Murray Knuttila, Provost and Vice-President, Academic. “The quality of teaching and the supportive personal learning environment provided by these outstanding faculty helps our students to excel both inside and outside the classroom.”
The Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching is awarded to individuals chosen by selection committees of Faculty members, staff and students from the Faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Business, Education, Humanities, Mathematics and Science and Social Sciences. Nominees must have a reputation for superior teaching and be recognized for this quality by students and colleagues.
This year’s recipients are:
Professor Ann-Marie DiBiase
Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies, Faculty of Education:
Professor Ann-Marie DiBiase is honest and fair in all aspects of instruction. Her students often declare that their learning experiences in her courses rank among the most enjoyable and meaningful of their entire university experience.
Professor DiBiase’s ability to create a positive and welcoming learning environment for her students is at the core of her teaching practice. Her teaching philosophy is rooted in a constructivist paradigm that invites reflective and critical thought and her teaching style has been described as “innovative and intellectual.” She is adept at Socratic teaching methods where every student question opens a path to greater understanding through instructor questioning techniques.
Professor DiBiase’s exemplary teaching practice is characterized by high expectations for student learning, an emphasis on ethical behaviour, a learning context that is interactive and participatory, and the use of innovative instructional approaches that incorporate technology.
Since joining Brock in 2002, her teaching evaluations at both the graduate and undergraduate levels have been consistently positive. Time and again, students specifically mention the high quality of her instruction, her extensive knowledge of the field and her commitment to positive learning experiences.
Professor DiBiase’s teaching demonstrates extraordinary commitment to student success, as evidenced by her reputation as a superior advisor and mentor. Her capabilities as a supervisor are demonstrated by the high quality of scholarship her students achieve.
Professor Rebecca Raby
Department of Child and Youth studies, Faculty of Social Sciences:
Professor Rebecca Raby’s areas of teaching and research specialization are childhood, youth and society, peer cultures, and gender and sexuality. As one of her colleagues writes, her pedagogy calls attention to the “importance of equity and justice for those children and young people marginalized, disenfranchised, abused and neglected.”
Professor Raby is a self-made teacher. Through serious self-reflective engagement with student feedback, she has made changes that reflect her responsiveness to student needs, her quiet teaching style, and her desire to maintain academic rigour.
For Professor Raby, teaching has four distinct objectives: developing the skills on which students will be evaluated; creating assignments that engage and interest students; producing structure that provides the opportunity for individualization; and active engagement and interaction with students.
Professor Raby’s teaching style motivates students to think critically about the material being taught. As one student comments, “The course caused me to think about the world in a completely different way. I now don’t accept anything as it is, I critically think about things more and create my own opinions.”
Her teaching philosophy states that for her, teaching is “dynamic, reflective and thoughtful with the intention of leaving students with meaningful, critical educational experiences, knowledge and skills that remain with them beyond their time at our university.”
Professor Tamara El-Hoss
Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Faculty of Humanities:
Professor Tamara El-Hoss is an inspiring teacher who is dedicated to imbuing in her students the interest and capacities that will encourage them to be life-long learners.
Professor El-Hoss’ teaching is marked by three main elements. Firstly, she engages her students in dialogue and creates a sense of lively and meaningful intellectual exchange in her classes. Her classroom in one in which the students and the material matter.
Secondly, she enlivens her teaching with multimedia, video and works of art, always striving to provide her students with a compelling sense of the cultural contexts of the material she is teaching. And thirdly, she teaches with passion — student feedback for her classes repeatedly mentions her enthusiasm and the clarity of her lectures.
Professor El-Hoss’ teaching style engages her students deeply in the material and in the learning process. Student praise for her teaching is unanimous and unambiguous and their comments recorded on her course evaluations are little short of rapturous.
Since joining the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures in 2005, student evaluations of her overall performance as an instructor average a mind-boggling 4.9 out of 5. Many students remark that they have gone on to take more courses in French than what is required by their program in order to continue to study with her.
Professor Michael Winter
Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Mathematics and Science:
During his seven years at Brock, Professor Michael Winter has proved himself to be an outstanding teacher and leader in curriculum development.
Professor Winter excels at teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, and his curriculum work aims to improve the mathematical component of the computer science programs at the university.
Like many university instructors, Professor Winter has modeled his teaching style after the very best qualities of his own professors from his past. Drawing upon these lessons, he strives to be an expert in the fields that he teaches and to act as a guide and facilitator to learning for the students in his classes.
Professor Winter is also accessible at all times and available to his students whenever they need his help. As one of his students notes, “Prof. Winter is an excellent teacher who really cares for the success of his students and does his job with passion.”
Professor Brent Faught,
Department of Community Health Sciences, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences:
Professor Brent Faught is a highly innovative and intuitive teacher. He has a long-standing record of teaching excellence and curriculum innovation in courses that range from large first-year courses in health policy to required fourth-year courses in epidemiology.
In addition to teaching courses focused on exercise physiology, anatomy and epidemiology, he has also developed new courses in areas such as health sciences information technology and clinical health assessments.
Professor Faught has explored new models of seminar delivery and evaluation, adopted innovative teaching technologies, and mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students. This Spring/Summer, he and a colleague developed a new, intensive, two-week Supercourse that employs a compressed course delivery modality; thereby offering students greater flexibility as they balance their work-life and degree-completion aspirations.
Outside the classroom, Professor Faught has been instrumental in the development of a number of collaborative agreements with various colleges. He also initiated the Brock University Firefighter Screening Services — a community outreach program designed to examine the physical and psychological ability of firefighter candidates in terms of health- and job-specific performance.
Professor Faught is a passionate, innovative and perceptive educator who fires the imaginations of students and colleagues alike — and who inspires others by both word and example.
Professor Donald Cyr
Department of Finance, Operations and Information Systems, Faculty of Business:
Professor Donald Cyr’s approach to teaching provides clarity and insight to students with respect to complex and challenging concepts. He has found ways to convey difficult material in an intuitive and understandable manner.
Professor Cyr teaches finance — a highly technical field with a strong mathematical foundation. For new students, this subject can be extremely demanding and many struggle with the concepts and technology of financial management.
With a quick sense of humour, well-prepared lectures, and the use of teaching technology in the classroom, Professor Cyr treats his students as fellow travelers as they explore the topic of finance together. He also takes the time to assist students who need help and his open and friendly style makes him easily approachable.
Throughout his academic career, Professor Cyr has worked tirelessly to develop new and innovative methods for teaching financial management concepts. His teaching breakthroughs enable students to learn at their own pace and according to their individual learning styles.
If students are fortunate enough to have Professor Cyr, they will find that they are able to grasp the concepts and technology of financial management with much greater ease. As one of his students notes, his “teaching style helped unlock a passion for professional investing I may not have come to realize had our paths not crossed.”