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Professional Development

This page provides Ryerson faculty and graduate students with key information needed for professional development in teaching, from evaluating your own teaching to developing your teaching philosophy or publishing your research.

Check out our page of Teaching Tips documents for even more resources.

 

Self Evaluation of Teaching

There are many methods for evaluating your own teaching. There are the results from the faculty course surveys, or there is peer evaluation from friends and colleagues. The LTO runs two programs, Teaching Assessment and the Instructional Skills Workshop, that provide peer evaluation of teaching for participants. However, self evaluation "is one of the most overlooked forms of explicit evaluation. Ideally and logically, [self evaluation] should precede all other forms of the evaluation of teaching effectiveness" (Warwick University).

Self evaluation can assist you to:

  1. "improve the educational experiences you provide for your students
  2. identify the professional education you need to further develop your capacity to teach well
  3. prepare for your performance review with your supervisor
  4. assess your readiness to apply for promotion and tenure" (Warwick University)

 

Methods

  1. Self Monitoring
    After each class, ask yourself whether you met your pre-determined goals and objectives, and evaluate what aspects of your teaching were good and what could use improvement. Create a brief self-evaluation form to help focus your evaluation, and keep a log to track your progress and improvement over time.
    • Advantages: self-monitoring allows you to focus on aspects of your teaching that are most important to you.
    • Disadvantages: being totally fair and objective when judging your own performance is difficult. "Personal biases and misinterpretations of students' reactions may interfere with the effectiveness of the evaluation.
  2. Audio and video recording
    Record your teaching and review your performance in detail afterward. Arrange several sessions around the beginning, the middle, and the end of the semester to see if you've made progress in improving specific areas.
    • Advantages: recordings will provide you with an objective reflection of your actual teaching performance.
    • Disadvantages: recordings are meaningless by themselves. They can't "explain whether speaking at a particular pace is good or bad." You may have to "obtain opinions from others on the strengths and weaknesses in your teaching."
  3. Student feedback
    "Students' perception of learning experiences in class is sometimes the most direct way to weigh the effectiveness of teaching methods. What students perceive and experience in class directly determines how effectively they are learning." One method of doing this is through standardized questionnaires, distributed throughout the semester, especially at mid-term and at the end of the term. Conducting more than one survey of student opinion allows for the opportunity to change your practice and see the results.
    • Advantages: Questionnaires allow instructors to collect data from a large number of students at the same time, providing a "comprehensive picture that reflects the opinions of the whole class, and can be efficiently administered in terms of times and resources."
    • Disadvantages: Student opinion can be biased. "Students usually do not possess enough knowledge about how the course can be taught," including appropriate pedagogies and the required course content (CETL, University of Hong Kong).

Planning

Before conducting your self evaluation, outline the objectives you are looking to analyze and what you want to accomplish with the results. To get started:

  1. Describe the teaching context: "descriptions convey the objectives of the instructional activity, innovation, or course, and include information about the assessment purpose and intended uses.
  2. Identify stakeholders and their needs: "Identifying stakeholders (e.g. instructor, students, and department) and determining their needs helps to focus the assessment process so that the results are of the greatest utility."
  3. Determine your central purpose: Ask yourself questions that can identify a clear purpose for embarking on your assessment task and will help determine the most appropriate method of assessment.
  4. Identify how you will use the results of your assessment: The results should answer the questions determined by part 3.
  5. Create an assessment plan outlining how the research will be implemented (University of Texas).

 

Student Feedback Formats

When asking for student feedback, there are several options. If you decide to use a standard questionnaire, a typical format would collect basic information on each students' background, "general opinions about the course (e.g. the topics are interesting, course materials are difficult, too many assignments, comment given on assignments are helpful, etc.), and an overall evaluation on the effectiveness of the course and the teacher, using predefined scales of quantitative scores." General open-ended questions such as "What do you think can be improved about this course?" or "What did you like most about this course?" as well as questions on more specific areas of concern for the instructor can be included at the end (CETL). This type of format mirrors the format of the Faculty Course Surveys.

Other formats for student feedback include:

  • One-minute paper: "Ask students to respond to the topic and concepts for the day" or to the use of activity-based learning.
  • Quiz: "In a risk-free climate, ask students to complete a quiz on their learning--for the purposes of determining not only their success in learning, but also your success in teaching," as well as clarifying the key topics for the students.

If you're a user of Google Forms and Spreadsheets, the LTO has put together some templates for use in your classroom. These templates are based on best practices in teaching, and can be adapted and modified for your purposes.

  1. Muddiest Point One Minute Paper
  2. Survey: Getting to Know Your Students 
  3. Lesson Review Template
  4. Assessment Reflection Form
  5. Assess Understanding of Course Content

Let students know that you that you value their opinions. Tell them about the changes you are making in response to their feedback and explain the reasons you chose not to implement some of their ideas. "Students question the usefulness of collecting their opinions if you don't let them know their opinions are heard" (CETL).

Dossier Design

Ryerson currently requires faculty to submit a teaching dossier as part of their tenure binder. In addition, the Chang School requires dossiers for job applications for teaching positions. Many internal and external awards also require a teaching dossier. Though they are needed for these jobs and commendations, many faculty do not understand how to create a dossier.

Teaching dossiers are intended to provide a description and record of a member's major teaching accomplishments and strengths in a manner that conveys the scope and quality of the faculty member's teaching. Dossiers vary widely between faculties; however there are a few basic guidelines that every dossier must meet.

If the dossier is being prepared for tenure review, the guidelines are set out in the RFA Collective Agreement (Article 5.8 C)

If the dossier is being prepared for a Chang School job application, please refer to the Chang School guidelines on dossier preparation.

If you are interested in having your teaching dossier evaluated by trained assessors, the LTO runs a Dossier Mentorship Program.

 

Ryerson Faculty Association Guidelines

The Ryerson Faculty Association has set out specific guidelines for teaching dossiers in Section C of Article 5.8 of the RFA Collective Agreement, excerpted below:

5.8.C Teaching Dossier

The Teaching Dossier is intended to provide a description and record of a member’s major teaching accomplishments and strengths in a manner that conveys the scope and quality of the faculty member’s teaching. The Teaching Dossier should include, but is not restricted to, such items as the following:

  1. A statement of the faculty member’s philosophy, objectives and methods of teaching;
  2. A list of undergraduate and graduate courses, including directed studies and thesis supervisions, taught by the member;
  3. An explanation of the ways in which the member has maintained currency in his/her teaching field(s);
  4. Examples of course revision, curriculum development, and teaching methods as evidenced by course outlines, assignments, final examinations and other materials the member deems appropriate;
  5. A record of the faculty member’s role in curriculum and instructional developments such as administrative and committee service for the Department, Faculty, and/or University related to pedagogy, and including directing and coordinating programs, guest lectures, and other presentations;
  6. The results of the Faculty Course Survey (Appendix F) and any letters and testimonials and an indication whether solicited or not solicited. The member shall provide information about measures of respondent confidentiality with regard to student evaluations, except in the case of the Faculty Course Survey (Appendix F);
  7. A record of the member’s special contribution to any teaching, including teaching awards, publications and presentations, instructional development grants, participation in conferences and seminars on education/pedagogy;
  8. All teaching assessments (where available) as well as any responses to those assessments and any letters giving reasons for non-assessments;
  9. A candidate may submit any other material that the Faculty member deems relevant to his/her teaching role.

The LTO has produced a guide for understanding teaching dossiers at Ryerson:

Download Understanding Teaching Dossiers at Ryerson [pdf]

Please note that this guide is instructional in nature and the terms of the collective agreement prevail if any discrepancy is identified.

 

Additional Resources

Writing Your Teaching Philosophy

Teaching philosophies are typically around two to five pages, single-spaced. As stated in Section C of Article 5.8 of the RFA Collective Agreement, this section should include “a statement of the faculty member’s philosophy, objectives and methods of teaching;"

A teaching philosophy should:

  • Discuss the faculty member’s view of teaching and learning.
  • Contain reflections on the faculty member’s experiences teaching.
  • Describe learning environments the faculty member works in.
  • Demonstrate the faculty member’s understanding of teaching practices.
  • Discuss relations between the faculty member and their students.
  • Show knowledge of the faculty member’s discipline.
  • Demonstrate the faculty member’s desire to grow as a teacher.
  • Show the faculty member’s understanding of the institutional climate.

 

An effective teaching philosophy should:

  • Define good teaching in conjunction with the faculty member’s personal goals as a teacher.
  • Draw a connection between a faculty member’s teaching strategies and the evidence of their effectiveness.
  • Reflect on the faculty member’s professional development in teaching.

 

Kaplan et al. (2008) have divided the content of a statement of teaching philosophy into five measurable characteristics. As part of their research, Kaplan et al. asked search committees to rank the most important characteristics of a statement of teaching philosophy. Based on this, a teaching philosophy should:

  1. Offer evidence of practice; including specific examples of how theory is linked with actual teaching experiences
  2. Be student centered, attuned to differences in student ability, learning style or level; including specific evidence of methods of instruction and assessment that go beyond traditional lecture and testing methodology, and that address the diversity of the student body
  3. Demonstrate reflection; including specific examples of struggle with instructional challenges and how they were resolved, changes made, and an outline of future development as a teacher
  4. Convey valuing of teaching including setting a tone or language that conveys enthusiasm for teaching and of considering it on par with research pursuits
  5. Be well written, clear and readable.

 

Additional Resources

The LTO has collected teaching philosophies from winners of the Ryerson Faculty Teaching Awards to be used as examples when reviewing teaching philosophies.

Faculty of Arts

 

Faculty of Communication & Design

 

Faculty of Community Services

 

Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science

 

Faculty of Science

 

Ted Rogers School of Management

 

The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education

 

 

Faculty of Arts

Paul Moore and Andrea Noack

We share an understanding of teaching that, unsurprisingly, is built around collaboration: amongst colleagues and peers, between instructors and students, and amongst students themselves. Our coordination of experiential learning across the Sociology curriculum is successful, in part, because we largely share an approach to teaching that has an intentional goal of professional independence for students; incorporates a reflective understanding of knowledge; integrates theoretical knowledge and technical skill with personal experience; iterates these principles across a curriculum; and ultimately has students engage with statistics as a 'craft skill' and a professional practice. This framework reflects the model developed in the May 2006 Report to the Provost on Experiential Learning at Ryerson.

Intentionality - Our overall approach is to mentor students toward independence as researchers: observers, readers, interpreters, writers, and producers of knowledge. We conceptualize all of our teaching as collegial, if in a future or hypothetical sense. The aim of teaching is to see peers emerge out of students. Students' ability to surprise us with new and interesting ideas and approaches to complex issues is there from the start, and emerges as they develop confidence in us as teachers and themselves as researchers.

Reflection - One of the ways confidence is nurtured is through reflection within an experiential approach to learning. Our design for undergraduate courses in research methodology includes independent research, combining comprehensive observations and reading with interpretive nuance in writing the essay or report. In the classroom, we model reflexive approaches to research and prompt students to do the same throughout their projects. When students understand how 'scientific knowledge' is produced and validated, they are better able to understand and critically assess more of the material that they encounter.

Integration - In coordinating our teaching of statistics, we strive to bring potentially dry numbers and formulas to life by linking them to meaningful elements of students' lives. For example, in Noack's course, students investigate the effect of a having university degree on future wages, and in Moore's course, a more complex model is used to estimate the effect of having a social science degree, relative to other disciplines. We also strive to disrupt the 'truth' that many students perceive in quantitative or statistical reports by encouraging them to understand these facts as a cultural production.

Iteration - This approach needs sustained, iterative reinforcement-it must be instituted as a curriculum, not just a series of courses. Our teaching philosophy puts collaboration at the centre, even as we maintain responsibility and independence in our individual classrooms: this is not team teaching; this is integrated, sustained cooperation between two professors. The success of our approach is evident on a daily basis in that students often treat us as interchangeable, dropping in to ask the one a question if the other is not in the office at the time. We also encourage our students to collaborate with each other - again, this is not simply groupwork, but a more sustained form of peer mentoring, discussion, and sharing of ideas, advice and results.

Engagement - A key component of teaching the production of quantitative knowledge is conceiving of statistical analysis as a 'craft skill' that can only be learned through experience. Much as a student cannot become a good painter by reading a book about painting techniques; a student cannot become a good social statistician by reading a book about statistical techniques. In contrast to the idea of statistics as a mechanical practice, statistical modeling is treated as a nuanced, complex skill that is shaped by practical limitations and sociological ideas about how the world works. In our courses, students are actively engaged in the practice of creating knowledge, and thus they are motivated to learn and to succeed. The applied knowledge that students gain through this approach is not just practical, it is integral to what makes the knowledge gained truly sociological, in that students reflexively recognize their own power in continually creating and re-creating knowledge.

These five ideas inform our overall approach to teaching and the initiatives we have developed.

In our statistics classes, we provide Service Learning opportunities that allow students to link their learning of quantitative analysis to everyday experience and practical problems. Students build math and statistical confidence in their introductory course by teaching data management to primary school students in an inner-city school. Then, in an advanced statistics course, students conduct original data analysis by designing and analyzing multiple-regression results from Statistics Canada dataset, collaborating to meet the research needs of a community partner.

In further methodology courses, students learn the techniques of questionnaires by composing, testing, conducting and analyzing the results of a survey of their own design; Service Learning students do this, again, working to meet the evaluation needs of a community program. In a capstone course, senior students have an opportunity to develop program evaluation skills by mentoring third-year students as consultants and knowledge brokers, providing workshops and reviewing reports-in-progress.

Finally, with the support of the Faculty of Arts, our Sociology Statistics Peer Mentor program provides another opportunity for experiential learning. In this pilot project, several senior students act as statistics peer mentors, scheduling drop-in time when junior students can get help, and assisting during the labs of the statistics courses.

Each of these Service Learning elements is ongoing, but together they have already become an integral part of the Sociology curriculum. For all students, experiential learning is enriched through collaborating on real life, real time decision-making and research-based problem solving. Altogether, this reflects our approach to the practice of arts and sciences as the production of knowledge, understood as a collective human effort that cannot be accomplished in isolation.

Robert Teigrob

I conceive of my role as a facilitator of learning, one who, while possessing a greater degree of specific subject knowledge than my students, is continually arriving at new perspectives and insights as a result of an interactive classroom dynamic. I encourage discussion, debate, and questions even in high-enrollment classes, and strive to create an environment free of intimidation that respects all sincere contributions. Above all, I aim to move students away from the notion that they are consumers of a product, instead emphasizing student participation in, and responsibility for, the success of their course experience. I stress that this success requires good attendance, participation, meeting deadlines, and above all, intellectual rigour. I am not afraid to place high demands on my students, and while these demands sometimes elicit resistance, they have also been a consistent source of expressions of student gratitude at the conclusion of their course experience.

I also consider myself an advocate for the relevance and appeal of in-depth and critical interrogations of historical problems, not an easy task in an environment in which such endeavors are too often regarded as inherently dull and/or lacking specific career application. To accomplish this goal, I require that students make connections between past and present, whether in lectures, debates, presentations, or written assignments. I also strive to bring a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to the recounting of the historical narrative, to reveal historical personages not as mythological figures but complex and contradictory humans with failings as well as strengths, and where appropriate, to utilize humour as a means of maintaining interest. I believe such an orientation goes far in instilling in students the confidence to critically assess and contradict received accounts of the past. This effort to remain engaged with the latest debates within the discipline also requires that I update regularly the reading lists and lecture content, and make a concerted effort to introduce aspects of my own research and scholarship into the classroom.

Throughout my career as a teacher, I have had the good fortune of instructing students from a wide variety of cultural and socio-economic contexts, many of whom were first-generation university attendees. I consider myself privileged to be associated with the profession during a period which has witnessed a democratization of higher learning, and place special emphasis on ensuring that students who did not have access to the financial and pedagogical resources I enjoyed are provided an opportunity to succeed. Often this has meant building strong relationships with appropriate student resource centers (whether they provide academic, financial, or counseling services); at other times, student success requires an enhancement of self-confidence and a sense of belonging in what might be a new and impersonal environment. For this reason, I maintain an open door office policy, post all relevant course materials on continually-updated Blackboard websites, and respond in a timely and thorough manner to all e-mail inquiries. I also provide opportunities in class for students to announce meetings, events, and performances that they may be involved with, whether within or outside the university setting, and take time to attend some of these events myself. My aim is to strengthen connections among students, and between students and the wider community.

Each of my classes includes a seminar component, one which requires that students read and debate issues raised by primary and secondary historical documents. I find these sessions particularly important as class sizes grow, as the seminars allow me to get to know students in groups of roughly 20, and, given the diverse makeup of Ryerson's student body, to hear various perspectives on international issues from a global perspective. The subject of international relations and the multicultural composition of the Ryerson community are in this way something of a perfect fit, and make for a truly exciting and pedagogically-rewarding opportunity. Seminars are also vital in providing an opportunity for students who may possess stronger oral than written communication skills, as seminar participation constitutes a significant proportion of the final grade (15-20%). However, I am also aware that such sessions are new and sometimes intimidating for people without prior experience in the discipline, or who are by nature not as outgoing as some of their classmates. I always encourage these students to talk to me about any issues they may have surrounding seminar participation, and to strategize about improving this aspect of their course experience. In the past, such strategizing has involved one-on-one sessions with particularly shy students in advance of the group session, so that they can enjoy an opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned in what they consider to be a safer environment. In more than one instance, the confidence these one-on-one sessions has inspired has led previously silent students to begin to interact in the wider seminar session, a circumstance that brought considerable joy to student and professor alike.

Being a member of a non-degree, service department that draws students from a variety of disciplines provides special challenges, as students come to class with a disparate set of skills and knowledge (much of it bearing only a vague relationship to the discipline of history). This fact has led me to develop assignments that seek to draw on the specific knowledge base of particular, non-historical disciplines (with suggested topics created around the specific degree programmes identified by my RAMSS class list). This serves to give students greater confidence that they can say something of relevance in their essays, demonstrates the importance of historical thinking to all aspects of the human experience, and more often than not furnishes me with new and relevant information about the relationship of history to other disciplines. I have provided a sample assignment along these lines as part of this application package.

Finally, over the past two years I have liaised with Ryerson's Service Learning office to create community-based service opportunities for students enrolled in ACS 402, Introduction to Global Studies. I consider this experience one of the most rewarding of my professional career, as it demonstrates to participants the connections between international relations theory and practice, and provides students with an opportunity to confront some of the many challenges that are raised in class (global poverty, disease, war, etc.). Thus far we have partnered with child-focused development agency Plan Canada, as well as World University Service of Canada, an agency that brings university-aged residents of refugee camps to Canada so that they can complete their degrees. The community partners have reported high levels of satisfaction regarding the students' contribution, and the students have responded with unbridled enthusiasm to these projects, in some cases continuing their partnership with these agencies beyond the school term. I now consider Service Learning to be a permanent and vital component of ACS 402, and am considering ways to introduce SL into the other courses that I teach as well. To me, the program is the perfect embodiment of the Ryerson mission, and I and the student participants are grateful that the university has made room for such an opportunity to connect learning with practical and positive action.

Alan Sears

Experiential learning matters because learning is among the most human of all activities, performed on a continuous basis both outside and inside of formal educational institutions. The core of learning is the acquisition of capacities to act on the world through a wide variety of processes. People learn from their experiences, reflect on the world, and establish a variety of learning relationships with others, including peers, superiors and subordinates. Learning brings its own rewards, as people gain abilities to make sense, to express themselves, to inquire more deeply and/or to use their bodies in new ways.

Unfortunately, in formal educational institutions we often forget about the humanness of learning. We too often seek to use extrinsic rewards and compulsion to teach people what we think they need to know, casting aside their own interests and motivations. This may be compounded in the liberal arts, where there is a strong tendency to focus almost exclusively on text-mediated learning, suggesting that students shut set experience aside and focus on acquiring information through reading.

Over years of teaching sociology in post-secondary institutions, it has become very clear to me that many of our students are shut down rather than stimulated by the learning they are offered. Certainly, some thrive in these settings, as they align their own learning activities with those of the institution and develop new capacities. Many others never fully integrate into the ways of learning that dominate these institutions, finding themselves immersed in settings that inspire fear and offer little stimulation in return.

Experiential learning is an invitation to return to the ways people learn outside of these situations structured by power and authority. It begins by honouring what people already know and the questions they bring to the learning relationship, but does not end there. The teacher in an experiential learning situation must both support and challenge students, providing a situation in which they seek to move beyond what they already know.

In this sense, then, experiential learning is not simply about adding a placement or a co-op within a post-secondary setting, but rather is a different pedagogical approach that begins with the person and their own experiences and locations. It focuses not on the acquisition of knowledge, but on the development of the agency of the learner, which necessarily involves mental, physical, affective and ethical dimensions.

One of the crucial forms of experiential learning in a post-secondary context is mapping the power relations in the room, which are often obscure as they are presented in terms of expertise rather than compulsion. The critical awareness of the setting in which we are learning helps students map their own trajectory through the institution, weighing off deliberately the costs and benefits of various options.

I therefore increasingly focus my courses on giving students a first-hand experience of inquiry beginning where they are located. Too often, we in the liberal arts and sciences expect students to learn by digesting experiences of inquiry second-hand, reading about other people's research. I design activities in which students begin to inquire into their own situation, for example applying sociological theories to events in their own realm of experience. In doing this, it is my goal to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar, to encourage learners to view the world around them as if for the first time, while gaining access to realms that are far from their own experience.

I am now 20 years into my career in post-secondary education, and in retrospect it is clear to me that I have had the greatest effect on student learning when we have been able to form relationships of shared inquiry in which we all learn together and from each other. That is difficult in large classes, something I find myself contending with all the time. It is increasingly clear to me over time how much my students know, and how little we prize that knowledge in these settings. Experiential learning is, for me, the opportunity to construct opportunities for shared inquiry built on the foundation of what we already know, yet rising above that into the unexpected and the unknown.

James Cunningham

First and foremost, I think of myself as an educator. As such, I am concerned especially with what it is to be educated. Correctly, I think, Canadian icon of literary criticism, Northrop Frye, said that to be educated in a field of knowledge means not having to have something explained to you in layman's terms. In other words, the need for translation marks the limits of one's education.

Philosophy, the subject I teach, is largely a textual discourse, and the philosophers who wrote those texts tended and tend to couch the ideas they treat in very difficult and technical language. This is no accident: with good philosophy, the difficulty of the language is appropriate to the complexity of the concepts discussed, and the complexity of the concepts is appropriate to the problems they are intended to solve. Often these problems demand solutions that are neither easy nor simple. Until students have grasped the important connection between the language, concepts, and problems of philosophy, they will not really have learned to read philosophy with any understanding. Neither will they be able to DO philosophy: before it is a body of knowledge, philosophy is essentially a practice — the practice of thinking critically. And the practice of philosophy is dependant upon the ability to read it.

If I am to educate students in philosophy, then, I have to teach them to read it, in all its difficulty and complexity. So, how to proceed, knowing that, for most students at Ryerson, philosophy is a foreign and unfamiliar language? By temperament and training, I am both an explainer and storyteller: and it is the skills from both roles that I bring to the classroom, in order that I might both explicate philosophical texts for students, and, in turn teach students to explicate those texts for themselves.

I present my materials (texts) in a lecture/discussion format. In those lectures, I proceed by leading my students through one of the stories that the assigned text could be said to tell. By identifying arguments, the stuff of philosophical texts, with stories, I am drawing a parallel between logical progression and fictional narrative. Both arguments and narratives are characterized by their ordering of the text's elements (be they premises or events) into a linear development towards a particular conclusion. And, both developments can have a dramatic impact.

Presenting the readings as stories, I act the thespian, carefully developing a sense of the rhythms, tempi and word orderings that will increase the drama with which my presentations of the readings approach their conclusions. The intent is to allow the students to see how the text's different points are significant because of their contribution to an overall narrative. It is also to allow students to more easily remember the article's points — anything is more easily remembered as a part of a thematic synthesis than it is in isolation. Dramatic effect is augmented by using increasingly exciting, humorous and memorable scenarios and examples to illustrate the text's points.

Good use of the blackboard also increases dramatic effect. To this end, blackboard notes should be rare, suggesting that they articulate only what is important; they should be written as I am talking, suggesting that what I am saying at that time is of particular note; and they should emphasize a point with which the class seems to be struggling — thus, they should change from class to class (and I should wait until the class is actually in progress before deciding what changes are needed, taking my cue from student reactions to my lectures).

Not only are my reading and encouragement of student responses to lectures necessary to their understanding of texts, they are also necessary to student participation in philosophy as a critical activity. To gauge and encourage such responses, it is important that I learn all my student's names and chat with each of them briefly, for at least a few classes each term. While this is difficult with a student load of plus two hundred students, it is not impossible (by the fourth week of term, I usually know all my students' names). Also important is the arrangement of seating: I always require that students sit as close to the front of the class as possible — I will never allow any student to feel that they can sit at the back of the room in anonymity. Finally, it is important to elicit student responses if none are volunteered. I ask students two kinds of questions: questions allowing them to demonstrate knowledge about the text and questions allowing them to bring their own experience and views to a subject. Clarity as to which kind of question I am asking is essential: if students think that I am always testing them on their knowledge of readings, they will clam up. Many of my questions, therefore, don't require that they have read: and I make it very clear when I am asking such questions.

I also make it clear that students are free to interrupt me during the lecture with questions and comments. To encourage such interruptions, I am careful to present material clearly (with plenty of illustrative examples) and provocatively. Student silence can indicate to me that more examples and more explanation are needed; that points have to be more clearly marked out as important (time to use the blackboard). Else it can indicate that students are simply too tired to concentrate because it is 9:00am or 4:30pm, late in the week. To remedy this, I often get students to stand and move about, then sit and talk to their neighbours for a few minutes. I usually suggest that they take these social times as opportunities to make contacts from which they can get notes when they are away.

Having explained texts and encouraged student discussion, I usually end classes with a meta-view of the course so far. That is, I explain how the text studied relates in a significant manner to the other texts in the course. Thus do I show the students how the course itself operates as a story, its texts working as parts of a progression towards an articulation of the course's overall themes.

Term paper assignments serve two functions. The first is to see if the students can map the reading of texts provided in the lecture onto the texts themselves. To this end, they are required to reconstruct the stories from the lectures as summaries of the readings, showing where in the text the main points made in the lectures can be found, indicating how the text makes the kind of syntheses between points identified in the lectures. Thus does student reading of texts for purposes of the term paper become a third reading (the first reading is to occur before lectures, the second is the lecture itself, the third requires the student to read in light of what they have heard in the lecture — to find in the text the structure that the lecture identified).

The second function of the essay is to allow the student to show how texts relate to each other in important ways (thus my assigned essay topics are almost always "compare and contrast" essays). Again the essay functions as a third reading; this time, however, it is a reading of multiple texts as comprising a body of work. First the students read all the texts for the topic, then a study session at the end of one of the classes is dedicated to my illustrating how the texts are connected, finally the essay allows the students to articulate such connections for themselves. Papers are to be kept short (typically seven pages double spaced), for, it takes understanding to articulate a complete discussion with brevity.

To conclude, if students are to do philosophy, they must learn to read philosophy; if they are to be educated in a subject, they must be helped to master the difficult task of reading that subject's most difficult texts. As teacher, my job is to carefully guide students through the reading of a number of texts so that they will get the feel and rhythm of reading them; so that they will be able to apprehend the structure in them. It is also my job to ensure that students work with those texts by addressing their content and the issues articulated in that content in an active way — such addresses are the stuff of philosophical thought.

Hyacinth Simpson

Why I do what I do in the classroom is adapted to suit the specific demands of individual courses I teach and the learning requirements of each group of students, but there are certain beliefs and practices that remain foundational to my teaching philosophy. For one, I emphasize active learning strategies and exercises which allow me to both break down the learning process into its component parts—acquiring knowledge, building comprehension and analytical skills; developing the ability to synthesize information; achieving competence in applying knowledge and skills; and evaluating the results of such application—to help students take control of and measure their learning outcomes and make evident the interconnections between these components to teach students how to become lifelong learners. A direct result of this approach is that students become more inquisitive and motivated in their studies and actually enjoy the learning experience.

For another, I firmly believe that in designing a relevant syllabus—whether I am teaching a literature or a social justice course—I am better able to provide students with the intellectual tools and skills they need to compete effectively in the marketplace/workplace and contribute to improving their society. Because students learn best when they can make connections between the issues that impact on their everyday lives and what they are reading and hearing in the classroom, my courses foreground experiential learning; that is, I give students opportunities to undertake real-life applications of theoretical materials and solidify their understanding of concepts taught in the classroom through grounding complex ideas and abstractions in concrete, everyday examples.
For me, experiential learning is more than bridging the gap between the classroom and the outside world, between theory and practice. As an English professor whose teaching and research embrace the study of literature and other areas of learning in the humanities, I am not directly involved in professionally-targeted instruction in which experiential learning is synonymous with practicum experience. Rather, I focus on helping students identify where their previous experience and/or personal interests intersect with course material so that they are better equipped to decide how to make use of the knowledge and skills they have learned in determining their future work. For example, following the module on gender and sex/uality and after completing her community service requirement in my social justice course by volunteering with the social outreach group within the Upper Canada Law Society, one of my undergraduate students discovered that she wanted to specialize in feminist law. Similarly, after a semester of reading works of fiction and theory in my Immigrant Voices in Canadian Literature course with an eye to the connection between poetics and politics in these writings, one of my graduate students realized that doing her major research paper on what grassroots community theatre in immigrant enclaves in Toronto can tell us about the way marginal groups use art to dialogue with the society around them is the necessary next step to launching her career as a playwright and theatre critic.

As such, I have come to value the transformative aspects of the teaching-learning relationship in which conscientious mentoring of my students plays a significant role. I strive to do more than competently deliver instruction in the classroom and so give attention to inculcating habits of thinking, working and being, and helping students recognize and achieve their potential. Office visits are as much about discussing course information and assignments as they are about one-on-one personal chats and explorations of ideas and possibilities with students. I hold myself to the same standards I set for my students, and many of them value my honesty and transparency and the interest, time and energy I invest in our academic relationship. I often get emails from students, even after they have completed courses with me, in which they let me know of developments in their academic life or simply pass on information (newspaper stories, etc.) that they think I will find useful for my classes.

Nurturing such a relationship of mutual exchange, trust, and respect requires that I be mindful of the different learning styles and backgrounds of my students, especially when dealing with sensitive issues—as is the case with much of the content that I teach. I employ a variety of teaching strategies to create a safe and intellectually rigorous environment for addressing the issues. At the beginning of each term in my social justice course for example, I set the stage and tone for subsequent discussion sessions by sharing my own sensitive encounters and inviting students to reflect upon my response to these situations. This is done in the first meeting or two when students have very few assignments. I also read magazine stories and poems or play songs in these early classes as a means of laying bare and helping students overcome their fear of addressing the more sensitive topics. These strategies have been rewarded by students later on choosing to share their own experiences and inviting comments on their reactions in open forum, with the rest of us listening with respect and eager to learn from what was shared. These are among the moments I treasure most in my teaching. I also use reader response essays in my liberal studies courses (such as in the weeks when I cover truth and reconciliation issues in Aboriginal and South African readings) to help students sort out their emotional reactions to disturbing content, and discover their own critical voice and style in the process. A community service assignment in another course requires that students spend 3 hours volunteering with a local organization that addresses one or more of the forms of oppression dealt with in the course, which allows them to put theory into practice and also gives them the space in which to examine their own beliefs and assumptions—on their own terms. For that assignment, each student writes a report on the community service activity undertaken and concludes the report with a paragraph reflecting on what s/he learned or how his/her perspective might have shifted as a result of completing the exercise. My course discussion forums in Blackboard have proven to be invaluable as my students and I use these forums to grapple with course content and sort through our intellectual and emotional response to the material covered beyond the spatial confines and time restrictions of the classroom.

No positive teaching-learning result is, I believe, possible if students are not made fully aware of the parameters and given a context for their course of study. As such, I prepare explicit syllabi in which I very clearly lay out course policies, expectations, descriptions of assignments and their due dates alongside desired learning outcomes, a detailed marking code, a comprehensive description of the scope and content of each course, and the weekly topics and readings—often coming up with catchy titles that capture the issues and focus for each week’s lecture, discussion and activity sessions. As an English professor, I also fully appreciate that whatever the course content, the various components in the learning process are reinforced through writing. The existing scholarship on academic writing suggests that the act of writing itself brings all these components into harmony and functions as an important measurement of learning—for both student and teacher. It is in written assignments that—after all the benefits of class discussions, lectures, group presentations and activities—each student has to wrestle with communicating what s/he has learned. It is in written assignments that I work on improving my students’ critical thinking and academic writing skills as a complement to the oral communication skills I foster in open discussions, debates and group presentations. It is in written assignments that I teach my students how to write critically—to question received knowledge, analyze, historicize, politicize and, overall, respond in an intelligent and informed manner to whatever is the issue at hand. To this end, all my courses are writing intensive. This does not necessarily mean that students have to produce more written work in my courses than they do in other courses; rather, writing intensive refers to a judicious combination of writing exercises, which together are designed to achieve specific learning outcomes and give students ample opportunity to learn the finer points of academic writing and self-editing.

Like my students, I approach each classroom as a learner, willing to question, adjust and revise what I think I know. I make a habit of listening as much as I speak, and I spend time reflecting on my teaching practice and keeping abreast of new pedagogies by reading a number of teaching and learning journals and newsletters and participating in teaching workshops with my colleagues. The time I spend being a learner myself has made me a more confident and effective teacher in the classroom.

Genevieve Farrell

I try to teach in colour! I am such a visual learner - I try to paint what we are studying. This means lots of visuals - power points, videos, handouts as well as stories, metaphors & analogies.

Recognizing each student is an individual, I try to be sensitive to his/her needs & to accommodate him/her. Students have different learning styles so I design projects that will appeal to their unique approaches. I am very familiar with the True Colours personality assessment tool. For “oranges” I have created action type projects, such as visiting community agencies; for “blues” I have team projects that meet their relationship needs & projects where they are “helping” others, such as the fund-raisers; for “golds”, I have policy critiques & for the “greens” I have research papers. I am empathetic to students who face barriers & hardships, whether it be it a disability or a personal problem. I am always learning what my biases are.

I am comfortable with the use of humour & fun in the classroom, incorporating funny cartoons in the overheads, comical clips from everything like Saturday Night Live to Frasier or silly actions by me (dancing & singing)! I do let my personal interests shine through - students know I am fond of chocolate, Bruce Springsteen & the Blue Jays. If someone’s cell phone goes off in class, that person needs to bring chocolate for everyone next class.

Participate. Participate. Participate. I believe students learn best if they are actively engaged in the education process. I use a variety of techniques: small group discussions & activities, brainstorming & reporting back; self-analysis questionnaires; discussion threads in Blackboard (e.g., this semester in the Equity & Diversity class, we identified germane movies, such as “Crash”); role plays, structured simulations & relevant games. I invite students to generate final exam questions for some of the courses.

I want students to do well & so will bring resources that are offered to them here at Ryerson right into the classroom rather than just tell them about these services: the Career Centre, the Integrity Officer, the Librarian, Student Services & so on. I design handouts that can be helpful to them, such as “APA Tips”.

I have been inspired by some great traditional & not so traditional “teachers”! Miss Deck, my grade 2 teacher & daughter of Fran Deck of “Fran’s Restaurants”, taught me about sharing with those less fortunate than ourselves. Our class created gifts for Seniors in a nursing home & I was chosen to deliver them. President Kennedy’s famous speech, “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” profoundly touched my soul. I was impressed with my Uncle Gerry’s passion for teaching, my Aunt Elizabeth’s concern for her students & my Uncle Pat’s duty to do the right thing. My grade 6 teacher, Mr. Kramer, made the “new girl”, me, feel welcome & supported. The nuns & the teachers at St. Mary’s High School, well they just expected that I would do my best & that I would do well.

Dr. Luke Novelli, my Organizational Behaviour professor at Gonzaga University where I did my MBA, surprised me by making me an offer to be his TA. His reaching out to me & his love of the field inspired me to say OB is for me! Long before I met the best teacher I ever had in my doctoral studies, Dr. Martin Evans unknowingly influenced my teaching style. He wrote a chapter for the OB text book we used in my MBA programme. His topic was leadership. He included the advice of Lao_Tse” at the end of the chapter

A leader is best
When people barely know he exists.
Not so good when people obey him & acclaim him.
Worse when they despise him.
“Fail to honour people, they fail to honour you.”
But of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say
“We did this ourselves.”

I have learned to be a better, more generous teacher at Ryerson thanks to the collaboration with my OB/HR colleagues, especially my HR idol, Pat Sniderman. And the greatest teachers I ever had are my dear parents (Ann & Frank) who taught me love & respect of God, family, community & country. I try to emulate their philosophy of peace in my contacts with my students & team mates.

 

 

Faculty of Communication & Design

Ann Rauhala

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Bloom

In a teacher training session I once attended, the instructor asked us to name a personal metaphor for teaching. Were we sculptors, carving and polishing young minds, or maybe gardeners, nurturing growth and weeding out poor results? This was easy. Within 10 seconds, I knew: I was the head spelunker, a cave explorer who guides students through the unknown and unseen. Sometimes leading, sometimes stumbling behind, I shine the flashlight on the secrets of an undiscovered world. I may not have every answer, but I know how and where to look. My mission is to show students that their ability to succeed has been there all along, if only they just find it.

Although that analogy was more apt when I started as a CUPE instructor, the metaphor still captures my central philosophy as a teacher. For me, teaching helps students discover and develop what they already possess - skills and abilities that will make them careful researchers, challenging analysts, informed citizens, critical thinkers and inspired journalists. I believe that this attitude explains the strong rapport that I enjoy with students. Although I remain final arbiter, they know that I respect their ideas and have confidence in their ability to become better thinkers, editors and writers. The School of Journalism's -and FCAD's - commitment to studio education has reinforced my belief that learning is discovery and has assisted my transition from journalist to professor. In my first year of teaching, I acted as a coach in the hands-on practice of reporting news, a 'sort-of' supervisor who guided students through challenges that I myself had faced working in newsrooms. I was lucky: my first class was easygoing, talkative and cohesive. A bit too dazzled by my professional background, they were forgiving of my inexperience as a teacher and ranked me as enthusiastic (1.1), responsive (1.1), respectful (1.2) and effective (1.3).

The next year, I realized how much I had to learn. My reporting class was a dispirited group. My teaching load had tripled and included copy editing, a subject that requires logistical finesse from the teacher and a huge range of disparate skills for students to master. (Copy editors do everything from rewriting lengthy articles to writing headlines to designing pages.) My stand-up comedy routine was not going to suffice.

I took advantage of every session I could attend offered by LTO and took to heart every suggestion made in my teaching assessments. However, the turning point occurred when I read 7 Kinds of Smart, a layperson's synopsis of Howard Gardner's theories on learning. It was a revelation, a shimmering treasure in the caves.

Gardner organizes modes of thinking and learning into categories that isolate and define their components. Auditory learners acquire knowledge primarily by listening and talking, for example, more so than, say, visual learners, who prefer to see information. Gardner does not prescribe rigid rules but instead establishes a paradigm for thinking about and experimenting with pedagogy. Most people possess a range of learning styles and preferences and, so, most classes benefit from a combination of auditory, visual, kinesthetic and other approaches. To me, Gardner's brilliance is his respect for every type of learning and his enthusiasm for harnessing them.

I applied these lessons immediately and, I think, effectively, from the minutiae of course management to the explanation of overarching concepts. I realized, for example, that no matter how often I might give an instruction orally, visual learners simply had to have it written down. I began to write more on the board, prepared more handouts, drew pictures to explain abstractions, played music, had them act out roles. Morale among the discouraged writers rose as their confusion evaporated.

In copy editing, I used techniques adapted from 7 Kinds to build confidence among students intimidated by the visual and math skills needed for layout and design. In one playful, 5-minute exercise, for example, I ask students to draw a map of the world from memory. The results are instructive and democratic in their variety, from perfect but wordless maps tracing every shoreline to schematic blobs with highly-detailed labels. What an effective (and visual) demonstration of how each brain works differently and yet also how each mind offers its own style and substance.

My exploration continued when I did specialized training in university teaching through the Poynter Fellowship at Indiana University. There were hundreds of ideas on offer about course management, presentation, instruction and assessment. Importantly for me, there was also an overview of pedagogical theory that has informed my thinking since. Yet, amid all the information available, the most important idea I gained was that I should expect more from students. Or, to put this in terms of Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy of abstraction, although students may know, understand and apply knowledge, we must also inspire them to analyze, synthesize and evaluate as well.

In FCAD, technique always matters but students must go beyond process, to recognize patterns in media and in public debate, to synthesize information and create new work from old formats, to evaluate ideas and theories about journalism. With journalism's very existence at risk in 2010, this is more important than ever. In Bloom, I found a means by which I could inspire students to move up the ladder of abstraction. How rewarding those higher expectations became when I taught a group two courses, for a total of 10 hours together every week. We sped through the essentials and moved to independent inquiry that students loved -although it was many more hours of homework.

My teaching has also been shaped by my time as a part-time student at University of Toronto. (I was required as a condition of tenure to obtain an MA, which I did in June, 2004.) Again, the insights ranged from the micro to the macro. I learned how often a class needs a coffee break and how clever it is to put course outlines on coloured paper. (Students can find them.) But I also realized how thrilling it was to be in a class where I was expected to soar, where ideas and ideas about ideas were spread out on the horizon. I wanted that for my students, too, and have tried to incorporate the approaches I learned at grad school to achieve moments of awe and possibility. Is it time to talk about structuring an argument in a newspaper editorial? Let's look at Aristotle's rules of rhetoric. Shall we discuss opening sentences? Let's look at Tolstoy or Austen or Vonnegut.

Teaching for me is a journey, trite as that may sound. Every year I learn something new. Every year there are new paths to explore and new information to discover. I believe I have transmitted that habit of inquiry and exploration among my students.

I believe that my approach is in complete alignment with the goals of FCAD and the university. I hope you will agree.

Faculty of Community Services

Peter Strahlendorf

An instructor's teaching philosophy should be unique; a reflection of the instructor's own academic history, work experience, areas of research, nature of courses taught, types of students in the class and the format (seminar, lecture, distance, intensive) of the courses taught. While universities standardize and proceduralize many things these days, diversity in teaching styles enriches the student's experience, and is an important element in academic freedom.

My academic background is in biology and law - science and humanities. These are very different academic traditions and "cultures". I don't view myself as a biologist dabbling in law, or a lawyer dabbling in biology, but as a participant in both traditions. Since I have only one brain, there has been a considerable amount of cross-fertilization, resulting in some insight and a lot of scepticism. I don't teach science quite the way scientists do, and I don't teach law the way it's taught in law schools.

In keeping with Ryerson University's polytechnic tradition, I have a broad experience in industry and in the professions. In the polytechnic tradition, good teaching comes from continued interaction with industry and the professions. The understanding is that new knowledge, issues and innovations often arise from practice. Teaching students who are destined for industry and the professions requires a flow of knowledge from the outside world into the classroom. The purely academic perspective, not of the polytechnic tradition, views good teaching to be the result of good research, and that the university is the source of new knowledge. New knowledge flows from the laboratory to the class and then to industry and the professions. The optimal situation in the classroom is neither extreme, but a healthy integration of new knowledge from both sources.

As Ryerson evolves from a polytechnic to something closer to a generic university, what is sometimes over-looked is the expectations of students. When students come to the classroom most of them are not expecting to become academics; they are expecting to be equipped for careers in industry and the professions. In the polytechnic tradition, that was fully understood. In the generic university, there is risk of students' expectations being viewed with less concern by the pure academic. Some faculty who primarily enjoy research have said that teaching is the price one must pay in order to have the privilege of doing research. I don't agree with that view, as it implicitly downgrades our primary mission at SOPH. SOPH is one of the schools at Ryerson that was created for the purpose of educating professionals; in our case for two identifiable, definable and predictable careers - public health inspectors and occupational health and safety managers. A large portion of our undergraduate student body already have university degrees - in subjects that are not so related to particular careers. Hence, our students' expectations are very high, much higher than in a generic university, that teaching in the classroom will be relevant to their expected careers. The content of our curriculum is closely related to the expectations of external professional certifying bodies. Given our origins, our purpose, the expectations of our students and of our professional communities, teaching is of the highest importance in SOPH

Teaching that is open to a continual influence by our professional communities is critical. We discussed violence in the workplace as an OHS issue (and not merely a criminal issue) 15 years before Ontario's legislation changed to include it. The reverse flow is also important. Many OHS practitioners, under the influence of US-based consulting firms marketing their products, believe "behavioural psychology" is cutting edge science, and have never heard of the more modern "cognitive psychology". At Ryerson, I believe we should never simply teach what our professional communities want us to teach their future members. Often professional practice is wrong or out-dated. I view the classroom as a crucible into which new issues and insights flow from both work experience and research. I don't think the classroom should be merely the nexus of two passive flows of information, but that classroom debate and discussion can give rise to new ideas out of the original material from the two sources. I do not think it is as simple as "theory" from academia and "practice" from the professions; I can think of many instances over the years where that the common perception has been inverted. Overall, I would say that Ryerson, with its polytechnic origin, has been a place where the "crucible model" of the classroom has done well, and I have enjoyed participating in it.

At many conventional universities there has been a concerted effort to become more "interdisciplinary" - to break down the walls between traditional disciplines. One of the things that attracted me to Ryerson over 20 years ago was an atmosphere of informality about disciplinary boundaries. That may be changing now, and the irony of having other universities become more like Ryerson, as Ryerson strives to move towards the generic university, is increasingly clear. It is partly a reflection of our applied, professional perspective that Ryerson has always been strongly interdisciplinary in its educational culture. I find it very satisfying to discuss psychology, moral philosophy, law and toxicology all in the same lecture. I have always felt at home, with my mixed background, teaching at Ryerson.

One characteristic of my teaching style is the influence of both academic traditions in my own background - a visual style from the sciences and a verbal Socratic style from law. I almost always teach with visual material on the screen with a verbal parallel presentation. I teach law in a way that is very dissimilar to how law is taught in law schools - far more visual. I teach science in a more Socratic style than is customary. I think a weakness in science teaching is the passivity of the class relative to a humanities class in which the Socratic method is used. The Socratic method assumes that students can find the answers to questions from their own experience and reason. It is very often an unsuitable method in science. Where the course content is science-based, but is also very practical or applied, as most of the SOPH courses are, then the Socratic method is useful with regards to implications, examples, decision-making under uncertainty, etc. The Socratic method requires that the teacher be flexible enough to repeatedly and extensively depart from lecture notes to pursue lines of enquiry with individual students in the class. In fact, I don't use lecture notes in the traditional manner. I am guided by the visual material on the screen but speak without notes ... and, particularly when attention seems to be waning, try to draw examples, implications, alternate meanings, applications and contrary views from the students.

Teaching a course in Continuing Education has a very positive effect on teaching the same course in the full-time program. I have had the benefit of teaching many of the SOPH courses to CE students, who are generally much older, and usually very much more experienced. Such mature students are not shy about offering their experiences with the issues in the course material. A student who is working in OHS as an OHS coordinator for a company can describe his or her handling of a work refusal case, or the interaction with a regulatory inspector, where such stories are unlikely to come from the younger SOPH students. Their applications, stories, criticisms, and subtleties greatly improve the insight with which I can use the materials with the SOPH students. CE students come from a wide variety of work sectors - much of the content of OHS knowledge has to be adapted moving from one sector to another. Those multiple perspectives from a CE course can be brought into the SOPH class. As well, CE has a wider range of formats for course delivery. I developed the print based distance education (DE) versions of three SOPH courses (prior to the shift to web-based DE courses). The discipline of converting class room lectures into written and visual material that can be used by a student working alone feeds back to improve the materials used in the SOPH classroom. There is an improving discipline to delivering a 14 week course into a 42 hour one week intensive course - where nothing can go wrong with the logistics, materials, tempo - and where you are forced to keep students engaged for far longer periods of time than in any ordinary class.

I should add something in particular about teaching law courses to SOPH students - who will not be practicing law as lawyers. When you ask "why are we studying law?" in a law school, the answer is "we might have to give someone advice about this some day". When we ask that question to SOPH students, the answer for the PH students is "we will be enforcing this law" and for the OHS students "we will be complying with this law". It helps engage students when the perspective is: "when you are an inspector .... " , "when you are in court prosecuting for breach of this section..." and "when you are advising senior management about the implications of this change in the law ...", "when you receive an Order from the inspector to comply with this section ... ". Law school students know that they will not be practising in entire areas of law, and much of the content of the law school courses is not what they will have a personal involvement with. SOPH students, on the other hand, have a much more intimate and personal relationship with very specific areas of law ("this is your Act"). It is an important part of my teaching philosophy that we keep coming back to why studying the material will matter very much to the student in a personal way into the future.

There are those who believe that law is relatively simple - anyone who can read, can read statutes and cases, and understand the law. Not much need to teach. No complex math or equipment needed. But law is one of the oldest disciplines and is a mature subject in its own right; it is not mere language. If teaching law is merely a matter of reading, then teaching law must inevitably consist of reading sections of an Act off the screen - what some people call "black letter law" ("this is what the law is"). Law is not a science and it is based largely on textual analysis. Law is highly dependant on understanding legal concepts, on being able to find very specific legal sources, on using the concepts in textual analysis, applying the law to a particular factual problem. Whether students are aware of it or not at the time, when working through large volumes of primary source legal materials, they develop the ability to understand legal textual material by applying definitions, by applying the purpose of the text to an analysis of the meaning of a part of the text, by linking parts of the text to each other, by applying the policy or background philosophy of the text (e.g. the IRS) to the meaning of the parts. You don't learn to ride a bicycle by simply reading the instruction manual. You don't learn to think like a lawyer or a judge by reading about the law, but only by participating within legal analysis. I mention this because I think some students find the volume of work in the SOPH law courses to be excessive - but it's a particular method of learning that suits the subject.

Historically, non-lawyers were at the mercy of the "legal priesthood" in obtaining and understanding the law. Up until 15 years ago if you wanted to know what the law was on a subject, you had to ask a lawyer. Either that, or you had to physically travel to a law library (which are immense) and figure out how to use it. The internet has democratized access to law. Within minutes our graduates are able to obtain the text of any Act, regulation, case or Board decision relevant to their problem. Even so, when searching, you have to ask the right questions, and use the right terminology. When looking at a source on the Web, our graduates will be able to apply their knowledge of legal concepts and their textual analysis skills to make sense of what they're looking at. Without an understanding of the structure and function of the legal system it is hard to tell the relevance or reliability of a source of law. Our graduates will be much more capable of using the public's new access to legal materials than un-trained members of the public. Putting it another way, an unstated, implicit agenda in the way I teach law is that our graduates will be able to pick up any regulatory legal materials for any Canadian jurisdiction they end up in, and quickly be able to make sense of the legal text and apply it. They learn not only what the law is, but they learn generic, legal analytical skills that are transferable to areas of law they have not yet encountered.

A characteristic of my teaching style is the use of real life anecdotes and stories. In part, this style comes from the reliance in law schools on the case law method; cases being, in essence, stories. I also believe, as a matter of evolutionary psychology, that people by their nature, learn largely from face-to-face story-telling. I try to draw on a large collection of cases, news-clippings and industry anecdotal experiences to illustrate problems, conflicts, alternate resolutions, and so on.

I am told by many students that they appreciate my dry sense of humour. They say that the use of humour in the class makes an otherwise dry and boring topic very interesting. My only objection to that observation would be that I don't find any of the subjects I teach to be dry or boring.

Cathy McCarthy

After twenty-six years of teaching I can still say that my love of teaching is central to what I do and who I am. I am constantly challenged to learn in new and different ways by my encounters with students which continues to be exciting and also humbling at times. Teaching is not about me, but more importantly about how I engage, connect, understand and value what each student brings to the learning process. It is a privilege to have opportunities to get to know, on many different levels, a diversity of people and their own world views for short yet intense time frames. This in itself contributes to my own learning and understanding of the world and helps to open up and broaden my own perspectives on this.

I believe teaching is about making connections to the world around us, to making sense of abstract and conceptual ideas and helping them to become relevant to us and therefore meaningful. It is about challenging our perceived views so that learning can become transformational rather than simply a provision of information giving and acknowledgement of experience.

I believe students bring their lived experience, knowledge and skills to the learning process and I try and encourage students to value learning as a process, one where collaboration, reciprocity and mutuality are central. The process of collaboration is very much at the root of what I think teaching and learning is about: a collaboration between teacher and student towards creating new ideas and ways of thinking, to question, to critique, to challenge and to explore differing perspectives. The sharing of knowledge and the valuing of learning from one another reinforces this process. Because I believe teaching is a reflexive process, one of mutual influence, there is inherently a sharing of power within this teaching/learning context. This can foster a sense of belonging and connection that contributes to feelings of empowerment and can create opportunities for opening up new ways of knowing, thinking and doing. By being able to share 'the power' in the teaching process it promotes mutual respect for differences in how knowledge is developed, acknowledged, generated and perceived as legitimate. This translates into students being able to see that their own contributions, insights, experiences, views and understandings are all equally valid and have a right to be voiced and acknowledged.

My commitment to this type of teaching philosophy means that I must consistently work hard to be innovative and creative in how students become engaged with the course material. In order to engage students in their learning and support them to take risks with voicing their ideas/views, I believe it is essential to create a safe environment where respect for one another is crucial and open dialogue is able to occur. What I like to do is invite students to take a 'journey of learning' which is not always comfortable and easy, but hopefully, results in not only learning about the content but about themselves as well. One way I do this is by the development of a final exit paper in my fourth year theory of practice course. The paper is about their learning journey and how they have developed and grown in the development of their professional identity along with what theoretical perspectives have contributed to this. This paper assists in the application and linkage of theory to their own practice and becomes meaningful and relevant to them. Student feedback on this assignment has highlighted how helpful this was and reinforced their learning. It also provides opportunities for them to develop new awareness about their professional and personal self which is so crucial within social work practice.

The development of a learning agreement/guidelines becomes important at the start of a course so that expectations are concrete and transparent. Frequent opportunities for students to provide feedback on what is working and what is not, allows for check-ins as to what if any changes need to be made. An end of term feedback for me is extremely helpful as it provides me with a 'view' to seeing how the learning process can become more inclusive based on the diversity of a learning styles and stages. I also find this type of feedback can be reaffirming, but it also challenges me to be open and flexible in finding more innovative and creative ways to present content to fit more with what their learning needs are. It is not about what I need, but what would help to facilitate meaningful and challenging learning for them. In other words, students teach me about teaching. Learning then becomes relevant to their understanding of their own reality.

In order to put my beliefs and what I value in the process of teaching and learning, I have found it essential to try and develop ways to practice what I preach. This has led me in the direction of seeking out and working to develop innovative approaches for students to experience different forms of learning. I am excited, challenged and sometimes quite anxious about using experiential methods in the classroom such as live simulations or charrettes, as you can never completely plan what will happen as the process/experience unfolds. Although I am clear about the learning objectives, the 'letting go' of traditional notions of how these objectives will be achieved is exciting and at times unnerving. The motto here really is expect the unexpected. Experiential learning allows for active and engaged participation from students. It creates an environment that allows for risk taking and experiencing the learning that becomes real rather than strictly removed from their lived experience and only theoretical. To be able to apply, experience, reflect and as a result link this process of learning to their practice often translates into new and different transformational learning.

My commitment to experiential learning and the necessity of understanding things from multiple critical perspectives, has motivated me to find ways to develop opportunities across the University in order for this to happen. My wanting to challenge the boundaries that can constrict learning, reinforces my valuing of interdisciplinary/inter-professional educational experiences. Being able to work collaboratively with other faculty and students towards developing interdisciplinary opportunities has contributed significantly to broadening my own view of teaching and allowed me to see teaching as learning where I am also a participant in the process, a facilitator, co-learner, model, and mentor.

I am constantly challenged about how to put my values and beliefs into practice. What helps me most is that I basically really like and enjoy students and have this desire to get to know each one on some level and help them become more aware of their strengths and abilities and what motivates them in their learning. Interdisciplinary/inter-professional opportunities and experiences have contributed to this in ways that have fostered greater learning by being able to move outside the limits of my own discipline. To be able to work with people collaboratively from a variety of different disciplines is exciting and motivating for me. I find this approach stimulates my creativity and challenges me to think differently about approaches and ways of doing things.

In reflecting on my teaching philosophy I recognize that it is not always easy to put these values and beliefs into practice. I struggle at times with this and the challenges that are part of it, but I do know that my commitment to this philosophy, even after all these years, is still very strong and deeply rooted within me. My own learning journey is constantly evolving and I hopefully can continue on this journey of creating change and working with others to develop new, challenging and exciting learning opportunities within a variety of different contexts.

Donald McKay

Quality is at the heart of education, and what takes place in classrooms and other learning environments is fundamentally important to the future well-being of children, young people and adults. A quality education is one that satisfies basic learning needs, and enriches the lives of learners and their overall experience of living. UNESCO (2000, p. 20)

The goal of creating 'quality educational environments' is at the heart of my approach to teaching and learning. Quality educational environments can be created in any physical space. A superior environment results in the mutual engagement of students and teachers in the learning enterprise. The role of the teacher is to provide the stimuli that will result in a collaborative learning experience. It is not our role to 'fill the empty vessel', but it is to use our experience and knowledge to maximize the students' opportunities to explore, evaluate, and integrate the core beliefs and wisdom of their field of study.

In the following I will reflect on the theorists and practitioners that have influenced my educational practice, discuss the concept of integration of educational activities, consider strategies for responding to diversity needs and backgrounds of the students, consider the impact of the arts on my educational beliefs, introduce some of my educational practices, and finally talk about my role in the educational community beyond the classroom.

Influences

At the beginning of my teaching career, I was strongly influenced by constructivism. Specifically, I was intrigued by the idea that meaning is constructed from existing knowledge structures, which provide the foundation and/or framework for developing new knowledge. I was challenged by Dewey's (1938) concept that learning was not the process of ingesting facts, but that it was a process of learning by doing. Education starts with the learner's existing knowledge. It is the teacher's responsibility to foster the development of learning strategies so that students can construct new knowledge from their experiences and prior understandings. The teacher is not a font of knowledge, but is a facilitator who creates the environment and provides tactics for learning. Vygotskii (1978) believes that the teacher intervenes in cognitive development by creating a scaffold to support learning. The teacher's role is to assess the current development of the student and then move beyond this to challenge the student to build new knowledge structures. (Leat and Nichols, 1997. Gindis, 1998) As I started to apply these ideas to teaching university students (in contrast with teaching young children), I realised that I had no role models for the 'teacher as facilitator' from my own years as a university student. Fortunately, I quickly found many kindred souls amongst my colleagues worked with them to develop myself as a teacher-facilitator.

Although I found (and still do find) the constructivist focus on the students as the centre of the educational process very useful, I developed concerns about the constructivists' single-minded attention to learning outcomes at the expense of attending to learning processes. I observed that many students achieve learning outcomes in a course, but that they value the strategies that they have developed for thinking and learning. For example, most students in my research design courses were able to complete a Pearson Product-Moment Correlation, but they would say that is more important to know how the concept of statistical relationship is used. The analytic process was more important than the mechanical calculation. These doubts lead to seek other educational philosophies that would complement and extend constructivist ideas. Frere (1998) politicizes the process of education by defining education as a liberating act that gives the learner freedom to think and theorize. It is consistent with the learner-centered approach of the constructivists, but it removes the oppression of outcomes from education. The outcome is not externally defined, but it is based on the needs and goals of the student. For me, Freire's framework would be used to transform educational institutions. They would become collectives of learners interested in pursuing the consideration of intellectual and practical problems. The teacher would help structure the process, but would not evaluate or judge the outcome. This would be my ideal, but it does not match the reality of professional education. Nevertheless, I have found that Freire's beliefs have helped me design assignments that maintain a respect for the "autonomy of the student" (p. 59).

So as a neo-constructivist and a wannabe anarchist-educator, I continue to explore alternative epistemologies and teaching approaches. Post-modernist thought and its implications for teaching have intrigued me recently. Parker's (1997) consideration of post-modernist reflective teaching confronts many of the assumptions of contemporary education. One of the most intriguing ideas presented by Parker is the process of creating dissonance in the classroom. This is used to pull apart accepted and new theories so that their true meaning can be understood.

Another profound influence on my convictions about teaching and learning is the work of Strauss and Corbin (1990) on qualitative research. Through exploration of their ideas about the nature of research, I began to see teaching as a qualitative research process. As one's teaching evolves, it is a process of identifying the key questions and problems of teaching. Using a qualitative approach it is possible to develop grounded theories about teaching which can be applied in the continuing evolution of work in education.

The above discussion outlines the main influences on my beliefs about teaching, but I must note that many other theorists have influenced my thinking. From these influences I strongly believe that teaching is a process that focuses on students as individuals to encourage their intellectual growth and curiosity. The practice of teaching focuses on creating a supportive educational environment that facilitates learning. Finally it includes a questioning attitude that leads to a continual evolution of the way a teacher works.

Practices

The following provides examples of how my philosophy is demonstrated in my day to day practice.

Integration

In the preceding text I stressed the importance of using our experience and knowledge to maximize the students' opportunities to explore, evaluate, and integrate the core beliefs and wisdom of their field of study. How does this happen?

One of the most important tools for me is the course syllabus. A well designed syllabus will not only lay out the expectations of the course, but will give students an outline of the variety of learning opportunities in the course. Beyond that, it will explicitly outline the relationship between different assignments. Appendix A contains the course outline for CLD 121. I believe this demonstrates the integration of learning opportunities. For example, lectures, in-class activities, readings and the Charette assignment all build towards an understanding of professional and personal ethics. In addition, they are designed to give students the opportunity to become familiar with the United Nations Statement of Rights for Children. An interesting outcome of these learning exercises is that over 60% of the students assimilated ideas about ethics and children's rights into their final major essay, even though this was not a requirement of the essay assignment.

Many techniques and exercises in the class are used to stimulate knowledge integration. Amongst my favourites are lacing the class with mini-case studies, using examples from the popular press, discussing excellent teaching practice of students that I observe in practicum courses.

Traditional exercises such as "Think, Pair, Share" are used along with less traditional activities such as "The Name That Fallacy Television Show" (please see Appendix B). Finally, I set the class environment through the use of props and gimmicks that serve as memory tags for lecture material. For example, teddy bears become amazing teaching assistants when discussing difficult topics such as child abuse; and my Great-Great Uncle, Buffalo Bill, was used to introduce randomness in a research class.

Diversity and Responsiveness

Well designed courses, assignments and exercises are only a part of creating a successful learning environment. What did I do to create collectives of learners that respected each other individuality? First of all I was fortunate to grow up in a home and family that was close to unique in white middle-class Toronto. My father worked with physicians who were new to Canada in internships for re-establishing their specialists' qualifications. This meant that our home was a welcoming place for people from all over the world, as both my parents supported these families in their transition to Canada. I was imbued with a belief that all people should be welcomed and un-judged, no matter what their heritage. As a result respect for the individual is almost a knee jerk reaction for me. It has been easy to carry this into the learning environment.

How is this attitude reflected in my practice? I always spend a long time at the beginning of a course becoming familiar with the students and their experiences. Familiarization exercises and personal data cards are two techniques I use to assure that we all know something each other in the class. I believe it is important that I participate in these exercises as it starts to break down the 'professor-student' divide. It gives the message that their knowledge and experience is very important to the class.

An accepting attitude can also be created through small but genuine gestures. If students give me a week's notice of an upcoming absence due to a religious holiday, I tape the class for them. Use of phrases like "as early childhood educators" or "as a group of colleagues" reminds students that I see them as an important part of the profession and that I respect them as members of our shared professional group.

Arts

My personal interest in and passion for the arts is reflected in my teaching practice. I view the classroom as a performance space in which we are all part of a creative commune. In on way I see my role as the creative director/facilitator. Boal (1985) calls the role "the joker". It is not a comedian, but it is a facilitator who keeps the learning process evolving and comments on the progress to stimulate synthesis and integration of knowledge. The "joker" can also be an accountant measuring and assessing learning to keep the course activity focused on shared goals.

Our reality is that we have few attractive or well designed teaching environments. Through the use of aesthetically pleasing PowerPoints, re-arrangement of the room and even occasional changes in lighting (e.g. using candles) an ugly environment can be transformed to support learning endeavours.

Students' long and break-free days provide another challenge, particular for teaching late in the day. I have found that being a performer can help engage students in a class no matter how tired they are. Corny jokes, the occasional costume, music, singing and even dancing can warm up a class so that we can move to working as a group of learners. I see this as pure performance which becomes a tool to support learning.

The Educational Community

These same beliefs are applied to my work in the educational community. It is an honour to have worked with GREET and the LTO for much of my career. One of the biggest challenges is to take my ideas and beliefs to different disciplines. It is a must that the principles of respect and inclusiveness that are at the core of my work with students become the foundation of work in learning and teaching support. Starting any activity with explorations of how members of the group work as educators is critical. Activities such as micro-teaching workshops are ideal ways of creating mutual learning that enhances all our work.

Equally important is applying these beliefs to SRC. The Projeto de Artis é Educacão started with an expressed need from our partners in Brazil. The essential concept of using the arts as the basis of and the vehicle for teacher education came from the mutual identification of shared skills and interests in the arts. All of the participants in the project are proud of the outcome as it reflects our shared educational beliefs. Please see appendices C, D and E, for executive summaries of SRC projects that reflect my philosophy.

The development of the Early Childhood Education Music Certificate with late Donna Wood is another example of my applied philosophy. Much of the excitement for us as certificate designers was the opportunity to find shared passion in two somewhat disparate disciplines to meet a true learning need that responded to an identified need in the community.

Summary

A few years ago I made a presentation about 'Playfulness' in education. It not only presents a conviction that educators need to be playful in their work, but also that learning and teaching is fun. In many ways this summarizes my educational philosophy. The teaching profession is challenging and hard work, but it is one of the most stimulating and interesting occupations. Personally I think I have never really 'gone to work', rather I have been paid to play in and explore the fascinating world of learning and teaching.

Rena Mendelson

It has been my distinct privilege to serve as a professor of Nutrition at Ryerson University in a program that values diversity, creativity and professional development. I am doubly fortunate because I am able to share my own continuous learning with eager and committed students. After many years of study, I have continued to be fascinated by the constantly changing field of nutrition and the opportunity to share this with students as I continue to learn even more from them.

The following model, “The Learning Circle”1 was created by a colleague of mine and captures the philosophical approach that I have tried to use in my work with students and colleagues as well.



From the time I entered the field of nutrition, teaching has been my greatest pleasure and highest priority. Along the way I have had the opportunity to undertake research and service that have enriched my experience and enabled me to share these with students to promote an ongoing link to practice and policy.

In the classroom, I endeavour to create for students a framework for each lecture that is coherent, connected and evidence-based. Within that framework, I seek their knowledge and experience to reinforce the principles under discussion. I also share my own experiences that have been informed through research and service to my professional field as described below.

Research

I have undertaken ongoing research with Ryerson undergraduates and University of Toronto graduate students over the years. Sharing the experience of discovery together is one of the most exciting aspects of working with students as colleagues. The largest project for which I was the Principal Investigator was the Ontario Food Survey (1996 – 2003), a collaborative effort with colleagues from Ryerson and the University of Toronto, Health Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health. This project employed 32 interviewers and several supervisors and research assistants of whom most had earned Ryerson bachelor’s degrees in the School of Nutrition. The work remains an important source of information about the food and nutrient intakes of Ontarians and has been an essential component of the FNN200 Nutrition and Metabolism course. In addition, this work has led to my role on the Advisory Committee to the Institute of Medicine (US) for the development of the summary document on the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). The DRIs have been an important initiative between Canada and the US to update and revise the way that we approach nutritional requirements and this document is designed to meet the needs of professional (and student) nutritionists. It has been especially helpful to bring this experience to the classroom and to bring my students’ needs to the process.

Service to Dietetics and Nutrition

Over the years, I have served on numerous committees for the Dietitians of Canada (DC) and during the 1990s, joined the Education Committee. This group established the accreditation procedures and published the framework for dietetics education that remains to this day the basis for program accreditation. Soon after that, I served for two years as a member of the Transitional Council for the College of Dietitians of Ontario. This was an important step forward as dietitians joined the accredited health professions for the first time in Ontario. I think that it was helpful to our students to anticipate the changes to the profession long before they became a reality. Recently, I conscripted the DC Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Network to collaborate on the Canadian evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for the treatment and prevention of obesity. The guidelines are the result of an extensive collaborative effort across many medical subspecialties and as an active member of the “obesity community” I was pleased to bring the DC group to the table. Since that time, I have agreed to serve as the Nutrition Section Head for the Canadian Obesity Network, a new Center of Excellence. My involvement in this area has enriched the FNP500 course in Energy Balance.

One of my ongoing service commitments includes the roles I have played as Chair of the Board of the National Institute of Nutrition and the Canadian Council of Food and Nutrition. These organizations are committed to serving as a catalyst for the development of evidence based nutrition policy. Working with health experts from across Canada and with food and other industry representatives, I have been able to bring to students the most relevant issues of the day from a broad set of perspectives. My engagement with corporate CEOs, federal health officials and others who deal with the regulatory affairs of Canada’s main food industries has enabled me to bring these matters directly into the classroom and to stimulate discussions that are well informed.

The time I spent as Associate Vice President, Academic was a special challenge for me. Working with faculty from across the university to develop the Ryerson agenda for research and graduate studies, involved the establishment of new policies, procedures, staff positions, offices, etc. and was just a detour from my primary commitment. Year after year, the job was extended until I could finally come home to the place where I belong, seven years later.

Since my return, I have felt like a brand new faculty member and I have embraced the new technologies with enthusiasm. By all accounts the use of power point, blackboard and other tools have helped me to enhance the learning and teaching environment in my classroom. I have tried my best to avoid the tyranny of power point and to use it effectively to help students see the patterns of data and to analyze the constantly changing dimensions of this field that continues to fascinate me after all these years.

1 Linda Millar, Vice President, Education for Concerned Children’s Advertisers

Lawrence Altrows and Corinne Hart – Joint Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Although we have included individual teaching philosophies in this nomination package, it is important to preface these with some comments about our joint philosophy for CINT 917.

As an interdisciplinary teaching team we believe in the importance of being supportive and facilitative, while at the same time encouraging student self-direction, self-management and a spirit of discovery. By this we mean that while we provide the scaffolding to support student learning, we do not provide the answers, or even at times, the direct route to the end. Rather, we encourage students to work through the inherent muddiness of community work, recognizing it as a first step to a deeper understanding.

We both believe that students must be active, reflective learners. As such, we strongly promote a number of reflective processes in our teaching. For example, we place a great deal of emphasis on the individual reflection that occurs within the experiential workbook, as well as the group reflection that is part of the large and small group discussions each week.

We believe strongly in the importance of process in the context of learning. Specifically, we feel that it is important for students to be cognizant of processes inherent in community and interdisciplinary work, and to focus less on a pre-defined outcome. Although ultimately outcomes are important, if for nothing else than to help students see what they have accomplished, it is more often than not the journey that allows for the greatest learning. As a result, evaluation strategies in CINT 917 place a high emphasis on how, not only what students have learned.

We believe in the spirit of wonderment and inquiry. We recognize that we do not have all the answers; rather, answers develop through the process of critical reflection and questioning. Our joint teaching allows students to explore issues, ask questions, and develop (and recognize) their own expertise. Within this, we believe that learning cannot be 'silo-ed', but should be transferable to a range of different situations and contexts.

We also believe that as teachers, we have a number of responsibilities. The first is to respect and acknowledge where students come from, and to use this as a starting point. Notions of context thus underlie our insistence that community members are registered as full students, rather than auditors or volunteers in the course. It also underlies our belief that the students (university and community) bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the course. We also believe that we, as interdisciplinary co- teachers, we must model the principles of interdisciplinary work. As such, we work together in a collegial manner, each bringing our own strengths and areas of expertise to a synergistic relationship where the whole is more than what each of us could contribute individually. We believe that it is our responsibility to show students, in a living way, how different disciplinary lenses can support one another. This is done through joint grading of assignments, sharing all aspects of teaching, and modeling how to negotiate differing views.

Our joint philosophy builds from our individual philosophies of teaching. The following therefore, outlines what each of us brings to the team.

Corinne Hart

My teaching philosophy is guided by two primary factors - the assumptions of critical theory and my belief that as a teacher, my role is to function as a guide, rather than a "director". In particular, I believe that the intent of education is not to simply provide students with 'facts and figures', but rather, to create critical thinkers, who are willing to challenge themselves intellectually and take risks in their learning. As such, I see my role as a teacher as one of raising issues, asking questions, and encouraging students to see and reflect on connections between concepts, situations and issues. My role is also to help students to learn to ask the questions themselves, and to reflect on and critique the status quo. In this way, my teaching is grounded in principles of critical pedagogy.

While much of my teaching focuses on asking critical questions, I feel that as a teacher I must also provide students with a foundation from which to begin. As such I believe it important to introduce new concepts and issues from a theoretical basis and to ensure that students understand the theory. To encourage critical thinking, I then help students explore what they are learning from a variety of perspectives. For example, course reprotexts frequently include several readings on a particular topic, each presenting a different perspective or lens through which to understand the concept. Similarly, class discussions are intended to hear the broadest number of 'voices' so that we can challenge what is commonly perceived as the 'truth'. Much of my class material involves asking critical questions and then 'unpacking' the answers. This is done using strategies that include posting questions on Blackboard, engaging in large and small group discussion and debate, and providing opportunities for experiential learning assignments. It is my belief focusing on critical questions encourages students to recognize that there is no 'right' way to understand many, if not most concepts, but rather that historical, political, economic and social factors drive the assumptions, biases and language through which knowledge is created, presented and maintained. The interdisciplinary community development course (CINT 917) that I co-teach is in this way, an embodiment of my teaching philosophy, as it creates space for the multiple voices of university students, community members and an interdisciplinary mix of course leaders to unpack and explore an issue of relevance. It also encourages the students themselves to challenge one another and engage in critical dialogue. In this way, teaching and learning become group responsibilities, guided, rather than directed by the professor. Ultimately I feel that I have been successful when students ask critical questions and feel comfortable enough to debate issues that are often difficult to discuss. I also believe that I am successful when students independently tell me (as they frequently do) that I have encouraged them change the way in which they see and understand the world - for example, when students say things like "I never saw it that way before!"

I believe that as a teacher, I must provide adequate feedback so that students are clear about my expectations, and their own efforts to meet these. At the beginning of each course I outline expectations and review these as necessary. When marking assignments I always try to provide the type of feedback that both identifies the student's strengths, and gives enough direction so that the student can address the weaknesses. In this way, I work to build on student capacities, rather than focus on limitations.

I feel strongly that while evaluation is a necessary tool in an academic environment, it should not take centre stage, nor become the primary direction for teaching and learning. Rather, evaluation must conceptualized and used as a means of helping students learn; framed so that it can function as a personalized "check point" for students to gauge their own learning. As such, I rarely if ever use evaluative methods which simply test "knowledge" or recall. Rather, I prefer to incorporate evaluation tools that demonstrate a student's ability to engage in critical analysis, critical application of knowledge, and reflexivity. For example, a key evaluative tool in the CINT 917 (Toronto Urban Field Experience) is a reflective practice workbook. Within this, students are graded, not on the "right or wrongness" of what they think, but on their capacity to engage in reflective thinking and analysis of what they are experiencing. Similarly, an analysis log is used within the political action experiential assignment that forms a substantial part of my community health nursing course. Here, student evaluation is linked to the ability to both analyze the decisions and strategies that they use in designing and implementing political action project, and the subsequent ability to use this reflective knowledge to revise their planning. Interestingly, over the last year, a number of students in the CINT course have commented that the lack of focus on grading processes has allowed them to focus on true learning.

I believe that while I am a teacher, I am also a learner. In the classroom, with the practice students that I supervise in community placements, and with the interdisciplinary group of students that participate in the CINT course that I co-teach, I strive to create an atmosphere of partnership, collegiality and mutual respect. While I come to the partnership with knowledge and skill in my areas of expertise, students come with a wide range of life experiences. As such, it is important to me that we are able to share our knowledge and learn from one another. I always ask students to look to their own experiences and to use these as a basis for exploring course concepts, something that is extremely important when working with the non-university student community members who are registered as full participants in the CINT course. I also believe that it is critical to create an atmosphere of comfort and trust within the classroom, where group members can express ideas freely - even when those ideas go against mainstream or group norms. To do this, I frequently use my experiences to illustrate situations, issues and concepts. By sharing parts of my own life and by admitting what I both do and don't know, I feel that I provide permission for students to do the same.

I feel very strongly that I am a role model in all that I do. As such, I try to be open, honest and reflective of my own biases, assumptions and values. In the classroom I try to model principles of a reflective practice that include collegiality, collaboration and an appreciation for diverse and multidisciplinary views. I also believe that students in academic and professional programs develop an appreciation for multiple ways of knowing, and the recognition that expertise can take many forms. This underlies the way in which community participants have been integrated into and supported in the CINT course. Although these students do not have the formal education of the university students, they are encouraged to see themselves as experts in a range of community issues. At the same time, I work to help students reframe professional notions of "expert". Similarly, when supervising community health nursing students in field placements, I continually strive to help them identify sources of knowledge, power and voice within the community, and to recognize how their practice must be sensitive, respectful and, cognizant of community strengths, histories and dynamics.

In sum, my teaching philosophy is grounded in a belief that the learning environment is a small community, and a place to practice critical thinking, reflexivity and critical analysis skills in a collegial, supportive interactive environment. . Within this it is vitally important to me that I consistently model these behaviours both inside and outside the classroom.

Carol Fine

As I reflect back on my career, I want to acknowledge that who I am as person/nurse/teacher has evolved over time within the context of my own learning and experience. Mentors, students, teachers, nurses, community members and authors with whom I connected played a part in the development of my values and beliefs regarding what I wanted to become as a teacher.

My two career mentors, both strong leaders within the profession, role-modeled relationships with students that fostered inquiry and debate. They prized the acquisition of knowledge, relationship building, were risk takers who influenced the development of programs and policies that enabled others to care more, challenge more, and to build more equitable systems. They were exemplary role models as they demonstrated strong critical thinking ability and worked to foster the same in those with whom they worked. They held the bar high as they expected excellence but they provided the resources and the encouragement to facilitate growth in others.

My own educational experience shaped my ideas about what could inspire significant learning and when engaging in a reflective process about learning and teaching it is natural to review one's own experiences as a learner. As a young student I observed there seemed to be two categories of teachers. There were those who were authoritarian; they were distant, intimidating, focused on 'teaching' content and often seemed judgmental, even punitive. The 'others' were warm, engaging, excited about knowledge transmission, welcomed debate and usually had a sense of humor. In the classrooms of the latter group the learners and the learners' unique context were acknowledged and respected. The teachers engaged the students through questioning and debates, encouraging all members to participate in the learning activities. There was an atmosphere of inquiry which allowed for controversial points of view to be expressed. It was in these classrooms that I and others both excelled and matured. What I knew intuitively in secondary school, I began to understand from a theoretical perspective during my journeys through university education.

During my undergraduate degree education I was profoundly influenced by the writings of nurse theorists and educators who drew on the works of John Dewey and Carl Rogers. Dewey was a remarkable educator and philosopher of the 1930's who was described as the father of experiential learning. He believed that significant learning was more likely to occur when the learner was treated as a partner in a process that was engaging and active. He declared it is incumbent upon the teacher to provide for the unique differences of the students in order to foster participation. (Dewey,1933).

Carl Rogers, humanist psychologist and educator, a widely read author in the 1960's and 70's talked about the importance of developing a trusting relationship with clients or students. He linked the trusting relationship with the successful development of experiential or participatory learning. Trust is developed if one is dependable, consistent and genuine. Genuine for Rogers meant in the context of learning the ability to be respectful and non-authoritarian. (Rogers. 1969).

Hildegard Peplau, nurse theorist, like Rogers emphasized the importance of the relationship to create the shared experience which facilitates leaning with patients and students (1952). Peplau's notion that the nurse-patient or student-teacher relationship ought to be one of give and take was revolutionary at the time. Both Peplau and Rogers referred to empathic understanding, explaining that significant learning occurs when the teacher appreciates the student from the 'inside out'. They would suggest, as Dewey did, that it is necessary to take into account the uniqueness of the student population.

As a Registered Nurse and later as a nursing teacher, I was happiest working with groups of students on medical units were patients stayed for days, weeks even, depending on the nature of the health problem. In nursing 'the relationship' is the key to all other aspects of care. In these clinical settings there was an opportunity to role model the kind of relationship that Peplau and Rogers espoused. It was essential that the health team members work together cohesively to provide excellent care. In my relationship with the students and theirs with the patients, partnerships were forged, differences respected and the outcomes mutually derived. The students and I worked as a team, within the health care team on the unit. The team within a team was a complex hive of interpersonal relationships which worked well if there was a sense of trust, open communication and respect for diversity. This team approach I believe, fostered significant learning related to interpersonal and inter-professional relationships, team building and team leading.

There was however historical tension between the dominant medical or scientific model and the patient or student centered model. In the late 60's through to the mid 70's along with my colleagues I became committed to the educational practices related to the behaviorist model. We developed objectives for each course, week, class that were so specific teachers and students need only to follow the dots to higher education. The basic idea was that it was educational malpractice to keep from the students exactly what they needed to know. For some courses such as physiology we adopted the idea of mastery learning, gave pre and post tests and expected the students to get a perfect score. The advantages were clear, and I continue to believe that a hidden curriculum is unfair and evaluation and testing processes ought to be transparent and congruent with the knowledge base. However for me the constraints of the objective driven program, designed by the expert-teacher were at odds with the more precious value related to student-centeredness and the co-creation of knowledge.

There was a core group of faculty, including myself, who believed that the behaviorist model presented some advantages, but left the students and teachers in a top-down, expert to novice relationship which guaranteed proscription and a 'doing to' way of being. We felt this was counterproductive to our beliefs about significant learning. We began to explore alternatives which could move us away from the constraints we felt imposed by relying solely on the scientific model and its cousin, behaviorism.

Then in 1989 Em Bevis and Jean Watson produced their widely read book, on the caring curriculum. I loved it. The rest of the faculty and I listened with rapt attention while at conferences or in seminars with either or both of these influential nurse theorists. I understood much of what was said by these nurse leaders, as their words resonated with my own personal belief systems about relationships that I had developed years before. In their work Bevis and Watson referred to Carl Rogers and Peplau and included others who worked and wrote from a phenomenological base. As Bevis/Watson disciples our faculty talked about the value of: becoming co-learners with students; small group work; the student as expert; nurturing professionals and reflection on action as the critical skill to be developed. We relinquished the positivist paradigm that favors science, technology and observable outcomes, as the dominant model in favor of a pluralistic approach. Intuition, people's historical context and a holistic approach to human caring were embraced. Policies and processes were re-shaped to reflect our rebirth as educators engaged in mutually transforming relationships with the learner. We were confident that the new nurse would be not only visible, but would be a valued partner within the multidisciplinary team.

To accomplish what we hoped for with the curriculum change and in keeping with an element of phenomenology that context is inseparable from the relationship, the classroom in which the student learns came into sharp focus. In order to achieve the ideal environment, classroom norms must be established, including expectations related to respect for each other, tolerance for diversity and civility. It is the teacher's responsibility to be very clear and specific about the course content, methods used to achieve the course outcomes, assignments, use of class time and to ensure students have access to the teacher to ask questions and clarify expectation. The teacher and students can work out together mutual roles and responsibilities and arrive at agreed upon statements related to a safe environment.

Years later, I again engaged in an educational journey of higher learning, I was studying philosophers from a variety of paradigms and became more familiar with critical social theory. Then I realized that the nurse author, Bevis referred to earlier, came at the learning environment from a different theoretical base than Watson had, who used phenomenology as her foundation. As I read works of Paolo Friere, Brazilian educator, I understood that education is political. Like others from the school of critical social theory, Friere believed that the dominant social order reproduces itself by ensuring through education the principles and values of the dominant class are maintained. (Friere, 1998). Dominant social discourses produce power relationships and imbalances of power. For my entire career I had existed within both the medical system and an educational system which relied heavily on the notions of hierarchy and power and I had accepted that status quo to some degree. With new knowledge about critical theory I reread Bevis' works and realized I had missed her intentions regarding emancipation. It then became important to address the issues of power and freedom within the program and within the health care system with my own students. Finally I learned that self-reflection, which is awareness of oneself in the world and the power structures within society, is central to changing both our own actions and the world around us.

Once again we changed our philosophical statements underpinning the work of the school by adding statements about critical social theory. Social justice issues became a theme running through all the courses in the program. Students and teachers dialogue about what it means to experience poverty, stigma, violence and what is it that we can do to change the existing structures through our work together as educator and educand. I believe that it is my responsibility to provide the students with the resources, including access to knowledge, to co-create the environment in which we can safely challenge each other. The freedom to know and to dialogue within trusting relationships offers to all parties the opportunity for transformation.

I began to champion the use of critical reflective analysis as a classroom and nursing practice course exercise. I felt passionate about this because in spite of all my good intentions when building relationships, the patients, students and nurses were still often marginalized or made invisible in their settings. The students wrote reflective papers using clinical situations and examined the power structures in the described situation, questioned the status quo and made visible that which had been rendered invisible. The papers were powerful and moving as the Registered Nurse students told their stories including ethical dilemmas, practices and protocols that were convenient for the staff but shut out the families, lack of tolerance for or lack of understanding of diverse worldviews. The analysis allowed them to begin to determine how they could bring about change. The strategies often included nurturing a safe environment for dialogue, honest exchange of ideas and the transmission of knowledge to others. If Friere was right then the process of dialogue can lead to re-education and transformation.

Today I would say that the most important beliefs about learning are related to participation and empathy, critical inquiry and emancipation. I hope that my relationships with the students reflect these values. As learning occurs within a context it is important to examine ones beliefs not just about one's own teacher-student relationships but also to be aware of the context of the learning. I consistently work to facilitate a learning environment that supports these values. It is very important that I am actively involved in building and sustaining a community in which students can access knowledge readily and in a way that is in keeping with their learning preferences. Students and teachers must feel free to enquire, debate, challenge and transform what exists into something new and exciting. The program, its learning exercises, assessment tools and the delivery of the curriculum must be congruent with the beliefs about participation, empathy and trust, critical reflection and emancipation.

References

Bevis, Em & Watson, Jean (1989). Toward a caring curriculum: a new pedagogy for nursing. New York: National League for Nursing. pp 153-188.

Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: a restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston. Heath

Friere, P. (1998). Pedagogy of hope: Reliving pedagogy of the oppressed. The Continuum Publishing Company. New York.

Peplau, H. E. (1952). Interpersonal relations in nursing. New York: G. P. Putnam & Sons.

Peplau, H. E. (1991). Interpersonal relations in nursing: A conceptual framework of reference for psychodynamic nursing. New York: Springer Publishing Co, Inc.

Rogers, C. (1969), Freedom to learn. Columbus, Ohio. Merrill

Vicki Van Wagner

Over my years of teaching in many different settings, I have come to understand that effective teaching combines a balance between nurturing and challenging learners. As a teacher, I strive to create an environment that simultaneously expects excellence and conveys understanding of the barriers that many learners work to overcome. I believe in encouraging students to reach beyond their comfort zones into new areas of knowledge and skills and to take pride in setting high standards for themselves. At the same time, I work to help students build increasing comfort and confidence by acknowledging and making conscious the abilities they bring to and develop in the academic and clinical settings. I also believe that working in a professional school involves supporting students to learn to find a balance between their work lives and their family and personal lives, especially regarding the on call demands of midwifery. My goal is to prepare students with not just the clinical skills and knowledge they need but also with life skills for a lengthy and rewarding career as midwives.

Teaching and learning is strongly rooted in relationship. I have a long term view of my role as an educator. I have learned as a teacher not to over value short term popularity among students. I value much more highly when a student writes to me a term or a year or more later telling me that one of the “tips” about midwifery practice which I shared with them really helped out in a challenging clinical situation. I value when our grads return from inter-professional or international practice and tell me that they received feedback about how well prepared they were. I value when former students who are now clinical teachers or new academic teachers come to deeper and deeper understandings of the teaching and learning process.

Underlying my love of teaching is my love of my profession. My desire to share the many rewards of working both clinically and in the area education and health care policy means that I work to inspire students to see the important roles they will take on as the midwives of the future. Students often tell me that my ongoing enthusiasm for midwifery inspires them to meet the many challenges of midwifery education. I strongly support the philosophy of our program that academic teachers continue to be active practitioners. The integration of clinical and academic learning is as aspect of our program that I highly value. I love to teach students to think clinically, to use critical analysis skills and to be strong clinical decision makers. However, in my approach to practice and teaching the social and the clinical are always intertwined. I push students to try to consider the bigger picture of the health system and of the diversity of Canadian society. My education philosophy is informed by but not limited to teaching about midwifery. In my past life as a high school teacher, I was guided by many of the same principles – that the most important learnings are about how to learn, how to think analytically and ethically, how to be reflective and learn from mistakes and missteps, how to be open to new understandings of the world, to understanding social (in)justice and to strive to apply these understandings across social difference.

As much as I value taking on these broadly meaningful aspects of learning and teaching, I believe learning should be just plain fun whenever possible. I love to create “hands on” and interactive activities, games and tools for simulation that allow students to develop confidence and comfort and to learn to enjoy their work. Midwifery in the clinical setting is generally centered on the pregnant woman and family and care is therefore not usually centered on the student’s learning needs. In my view this places even more emphasis on the academic faculty creating student centered learning opportunities. For this reason, I am a strong advocate for curriculum change to allow more opportunities for students for simulated learning with the academic faculty. I also strongly support the MEP’s approach to using the actual clinical situations students face week to week as important reflective learning opportunities in the classroom. I am committed to developing the skills of MEP teachers in covering the curriculum through student-led analysis of their clinical experiences.

I see my role as academic teacher as not just about teaching students but also teaching teachers. In our small profession most midwives become clinical teachers. Since the beginning of the program I have been a strong advocate for and active participant in preceptor development. In the last few years my focus has increasingly widened and I have prioritized the integration of new tutors, the development of policies and orientation materials to assist new tutors and sharing my approaches to effective teaching. I have also come to understand the important role of working with TAs and RAs as a part of the wider university learning environment and sharing skills and knowledge through collaboration in teaching and research.

I am strongly motivated by a belief in the importance of inter-professional education and am involved in an ongoing way in development and teaching in interdisciplinary courses such as ALARM and ALSO. My philosophy is that midwives are important teachers for other maternity care providers and that we should prepare our graduates to play an increasing role in family practice, nursing and obstetric education.

Throughout my life, learning and teaching have been intertwined. I see these processes as mutually beneficial to teacher and learner, often very meaningful and potentially transformative. I have learned to acknowledge that perhaps because of its meaning, education can be deeply challenging, and I believe that part of the role of the teacher is to understand and put some of these challenges in perspective. I have come to see that encouraging and modeling grace, self-esteem and belief in the process in the face of learning through “mistakes and missteps” is one of my most important roles. If the teacher loves learning and teaching and values both the learners and the process the feeling is often contagious!

 

Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science

Michael Kolios

Teaching is a very challenging endeavour. In fact, I would agree with one of the scientists I have admired the most, an amazing teacher and mentor to many, the late Richard Feynman: "I don't know how to do it". Feynman was astonished by the fact that his son and daughter would learn in totally different ways. What would work brilliantly for one would fail for the other. One can imagine that if there was such a difference in understanding between two students with so much in common, including their teacher, environment, upbringing, etc., then when one considers students from various environments, backgrounds and phases of their development, it may seem impossibly difficult to ensure that each and every student understands what it is you are trying to explain. Teaching is indeed a very, very difficult challenge. There are however a set of guiding principles to which I adhere to overcome the challenge.

Before I explain these guiding principles, I would like to talk a little more about Feynman. His published lectures (The Feynman Lectures on Physics) were a pleasure for me as I read them in preparing for my first year physics lectures when I initially came to Ryerson. He himself was a very talented pedagogue of a topic that makes many people cringe at the mere mention: "physics". His first year class lectures are legendary: he is known as the "Great Explainer". It is said that he took great care when explaining topics to his students to ensure that the topic was not arcane, but instead readily accessible to his students. This has been a guiding principle of my philosophy while teaching at Ryerson for the past ten years: you have to always think of the intended audience, determine what you want them to understand, treat them with respect and provide a series of lectures which are very well organized, clear, to the point and accessible. I have taught physics to a variety of audiences indeed: to general arts students, to science students and to engineering students. I have taught both undergraduate and graduate students. It is really interesting to see how they respond to the lectures and what it is that motivates them.

The principles I follow are:

  1. Have a clear understanding of the intended audience, why they are taking the course and what you want them to know by the end of the course. This is critical, as common pitfalls in teaching physics are either the presentation of material beyond the students' comprehension or the offering of material that is irrelevant to their training program. Physics is an abstract topic that is difficult to understand even when well presented; teaching at an inappropriate level or lecturing on material for which the students do not see the relevance to their program will make the experience frustrating to both student and teacher alike. Therefore, I always include many examples of physics applications in the biomedical field for our science students, engineering examples for our engineering students and explanations of everyday phenomena for our arts students. This relevancy is important, as it facilitates their understanding and motivates them.
  2. Be well prepared and organized. This is something that should be obvious: it is difficult enough to understand a topic when first presented (especially physics!); having it presented in an unorganized manner will lead to confusion and inhibit learning. I have cringed at reports that have been written by students (or, for that matter, by professors submitting papers or grant applications) at the last minute and for which I spend an inordinate amount of time and effort trying to understand what they mean. I anticipate that the experience would be much worse for a student being presented material in a disorderly fashion. Moreover, a mastery of the subject presented is a prerequisite to good teaching. One must be able to answer the students' questions, and try to explain any abstract concepts in many different ways. If I do not know the answer to a question, I say so. Then in the next lecture I give the answer, and explain how I arrived at it.
  3. Make sure the lectures are accessible to the students. The material must be of the appropriate level, and one must do research to find out how well prepared the students are. This is a very difficult task, but richly rewarding when done properly. Also, I try to use humour in the classroom when appropriate, in cases of long solutions or derivations. When discussing wave motion from example, I talk of "making the wave" during a Blue Jays game and what happens when the wave encounters fans that perhaps imbibed too much alcohol. Engaging the students in this way is very productive.
  4. Be interactive in the classroom. This perhaps is one of the most difficult goals to achieve in contemporary undergraduate lectures that have potentially hundreds of students, but it is very important. Therefore, I always ask questions during a lecture, and in fact I must ask a minimum of 2 or 3 questions every ten minutes. I try to use the Socratic approach, as it truly engages the students. When time permits, I include class demonstrations. I have brought mirrors to demonstrate the laws of reflection (to the horror of some of my students sitting in the first rows of my class), tuning forks and gum to demonstrate resonance and beats, long slinkies for standing waves, and invite students to participate in all such demonstrations. In a recent class last week, I had a student actually write a solution on my tablet computer (which is displayed so that the entire class can see) and then I politely explained, while drawing on top of his solution, where he may have erred.
  5. Treat students with respect, but seek to earn their respect also. The students should be treated as you would treat a colleague. This is paramount, as it is particularly damaging to the learning experience to have a relation with the students in which they perceive themselves as being treated arbitrarily or unfairly. The old saying "Do unto others as you would wish them do unto you" comes to my mind. In turn, the student must also have clear knowledge of what the expectations are and that deadlines are deadlines. Respect from the students must also be earned, not only inside but also outside of the classroom to have a richer learning environment.

In summary, even though teaching is a difficult endeavour, I have found that following the above principles has yielded an excellent rapport between me and my many undergraduate and graduate students. These interactions have been very satisfying and fulfilling. Many of these principles are a matter of common sense, yet one must be vigilant in adhering to them. I really do love teaching undergraduate and graduate courses, and I am grateful that my students realize this and have told me how motivated they are by my enthusiasm.

M.F. (Frankie) Stewart

I have taught at Ryerson for the past 22 years and while my teaching methods may evolve my philosophy has remained fairly constant. Early on I realized that while you must be academically competent and know the topic you are teaching there is so much more to creating a successful learning experience for your students:

 

  • I strive to provide an engaging and stimulating lecture environment in all my courses. I do not believe in just lecturing in class and then giving assigned homework on the topic. I always work through related problems along with the class so the students can apply the theory and ask questions as we progress through the solution.
  • All the courses I teach have a laboratory component because I strongly believe in the necessity of applying theory through active engagement. In the labs the students interact with hardware and software that is used in the manufacturing automation sector and this hands-on experience significantly improves the learning and understanding process.
  • Where possible I adopt a totally collaborative learning environment. In one course the students work in project groups for the entire course and the development of their interpersonal, communication, negotiation and presentation skills is clearly evident as the course progresses. The student feedback for this course is extremely positive.
  • I encourage a relaxed, mutually respective classroom atmosphere. Students appreciate a classroom environment where they can ask any and all questions needed for them to understand the material. Where they can raise issues with any aspect of a course, i.e. course material, assigned work deadlines, etc and feel that their opinion is respected and will be taken into consideration.
  • Students need to know that you are also available for additional help outside the classroom, at the very least being in your office during advertised counseling hours. Personally, I have always made a point of keeping my office door open anytime I’m in the office and available.

 

In the past few years I have become involved in developing a more academic understanding of the science of teaching and am currently conducting research into student learning styles, academic success and associated effective pedagogical delivery strategies. This has reinvigorated my outlook on teaching and has lead me to a conscious shift in my instructional methods to include even more active and collaborative learning exercises in my courses and to develop online instructional technologies to accommodate a wider range of individual engineering student learning styles.
In summary, I believe I am successful in my teaching because I provide an educational experience that integrates both active learning and collaborative learning methodologies, incorporate supportive multimedia instructional technology for all individual student learning styles and foster a stimulating, inclusive and engaging atmosphere for my students in my courses.

Dimitri Androutsos

When I was first given the task to teach a University level course, I was faced with the dilemma of how to effectively teach the class so that they can grasp the concepts and be stimulated, while at the same time being respected and well-received by the students. For this, I thought back and listed the methods, attitudes and personalities of those professors that had left impressions and influences that lasted. These few-in-number professors had the capabilities to teach effectively to their students and all of them had the following characteristics, which I have strived to adapt personally and have incorporated into my own teaching philosophy:

  • Strong understanding of material: Professors who thoroughly understand their material are the most capable of expressing it clearly. By understanding material to its fullest, a professor can easily draw up many examples and alternate viewpoints to present material. This is essential since many alternate ways of presenting the same material can help many students. Many times I find myself opening up texts and references to get a new understanding of some concept or to find a new example or explanation to help in my teaching.
  • No fear of saying “I don’t know”: Too many times, professors are afraid to say that they don’t know the answer to something and instead try to hide this fact by intimidating students or avoiding questions. My feeling is that if I am asked something and I don’t know the answer, the best example I can set for my students is to say so and then also tell them that I will find out the answer and present it to them. In fact, I encourage students to ask any and all questions, no matter how seemingly difficult or far-fetched. I like to think that students appreciate this and I hope that this mentality helps them to realize that being in a University is all about asking questions.
  • Real-life examples and analogies: The importance of using real-life and current examples and applications can not be overstressed. It is amazing as to how alert and interested students become when you explain how some seemingly abstract mathematical or scientific theory or concept applies to current everyday aspects of life. As a simple example, when I introduced The Sampling Theorem to my undergraduate class, they were all quite amazed to see how this simple theorem applied to every digital device they owned, such as their CD player, and also how this theorem applied to television and even film! Without this tie-in to everyday life, many concepts can go unappreciated by many students.
  • Undergraduate teaching is not a chore: One of the unfortunate aspects of my undergraduate experience was that too many professors did not respect their undergraduate teaching assignments. Many times, it was quite obvious that a professor considered teaching undergraduates a “chore” and that any students that were not graduate students working under their supervision, were unimportant. It is because of undergraduates that the university has income and it is because of the undergraduates that the university exists; unfortunately too many professors forget this fact. Personally, I find it quite rewarding to see sparks of interest from my students. It is quite fulfilling to have students approach me and tell me how much they love the material that I taught them and that I have inspired them to learn and to strive for more.
  • Available for help outside office hours: My feeling about extra help is that it should be available whenever and wherever possible. Of course, I set aside formal office hours for my students but I let them know that if they come to my office at anytime, that I will make my best effort to see them. I know how frustrating it can be to an undergraduate when they want to ask something to get a better understanding but cannot find the professor outside office hours. For this reason I also like to implement an electronic discussion board on my course web pages to allow students to post questions in an open environment. I then am able to answer questions and help with conceptual ideas even from home and at any hour. Of course, not all students make use of this tool but for those that do, such a connection to a professor really helps.
  • Students are adults: While I believe that creating a relaxed and friendly environment in which students can learn is important, I also firmly believe that students are not children and that they should be treated as adults. I believe that University Policy should be followed and upheld and that the students should not be exempt or be allowed to flex these rules. I run a “tight ship”, so to speak, when it comes to deadlines and protocol and make that evident to my students. I believe that when students see that I have respect for my course and that I take it seriously, i.e., that it is organized, structured and well prepared, they realize that I respect the university, my position, the course material and that I also respect them.
  • Make use of available tools: While I believe that it is quite important in many engineering classes to actually use a blackboard/whiteboard to solve problems and show examples to a class, I also firmly believe that it is extremely advantageous to use technological tools that are available. This does not mean that lectures should be completely slide-based. What I believe is that there are many resources that can be used to cement a concept and to show certain theories interactively. Furthermore, I believe that using advanced teaching web interfaces for classes is a must. Systems, such as BlackBoard, provide many tools that a professor can use to provide a close link to the students, even while being away from their office. The importance of such a connection cannot be overstated, especially in a technological field such as engineering.

 

Faculty of Science

Tetyana Antimirova

I consider myself first and foremost a teacher. I see teaching as both a privilege and a colossal responsibility. Teaching is the profession that has enormous potential to influence many lives and to participate in shaping our future generations. I truly believe that my own teachers strongly influenced my choice of profession and thus, the entire course of my life. I view my role as an educator dedicated to help my students achieve their academic goals, become life-long learners and reach their maximum potential.

As far as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the natural world around me. My parents often recollected that weekend after weekend I asked them to take me to the local Natural History Museum. I was fortunate to have very knowledgeable and dedicated teachers who maintained and nourished my interest in sciences all the way through the years of middle and high school, and later through the university. Today, I try to share my fascination of physics with my own students. Teaching physics brings me the enormous personal satisfaction of giving back what I was so lucky to have received as a student many years ago.

Challenges in Science Teaching and the Role of Class Engagement

Generally, there is a wide gap between what we teach and what the students actually learn in our classes. Knowledge does not become truly functional until the student "appropriates" it. Although traditional lectures remain an important part of university teaching, a bulk of research on students' learning demonstrated that the students learn more effectively when they construct their own understanding through the combination of guided enquiry-based activities. One of my most important roles as an educator is to create an environment where the students are encouraged to formulate their own questions, solve problems, perform experiments and look for their own answers in a safe and inclusive environment. The steadily growing confidence in the students' ability to accumulate the knowledge is the best motivator in their future studies.

The university landscape has changed dramatically over the last three decades. Unlike in the past, when the majority of students taking physics classes were either physics or engineering majors taught in small traditional lecture classes, today's large physics classes also include students in the life sciences. In addition, today's physics classes for engineering programs have expanded dramatically. Therefore, the quality of physics teaching today affects a much wider population than ever before. Effective teaching-learning is unlikely to happen in a passive and disinterested class. Guided enquiry is the approach I strive to use in all aspects of my teaching. I always stress that studying physics offers unparalleled opportunities to develop such transferable skills as efficient problem-solving, critical thinking and logical reasoning. I believe that physics offers excellent tools to expose our students to the process of scientific thinking and to let them experience the process of scientific discovery. I aim to bring students closer to this goal by relaying to the students the relevance of everyday experiences.

I believe that class engagement can be greatly enhanced by the use of modern educational technologies, whenever appropriate. It is also crucial for my presentations to include live in-class demonstrations. When live experiments are not possible, I make use of video-analysis tools and computer simulations.

Every student learns differently and, unfortunately, physics is perceived by many as a difficult subject. In my classes, I encourage a small-group collaborative environment and I try to create an atmosphere of mutual respect and inclusiveness in which students with different learning styles and from different backgrounds feel comfortable.

The Impact of Science Education Research

My latest research interests grew from and are closely related to my teaching. My research findings are fully integrated into my teaching. A large part of my efforts have been directed at looking for new tools and methods of teaching physics, implementing them in the classroom and evaluating the outcomes. Over the years I incorporated into my own teaching interactive lecture demonstrations, peer training and collaborative small-group work. My current efforts focus on the use of advanced technologies such as clickers, video-based motion analysis, real-time data acquisition and analysis tools, on-line tutoring and homework systems, educational applets and computer simulations, and , most recently, the use of tablet PCs. All these tools are invaluable in supporting enquiry-based and activity-based learning. I develop, test and implement new teaching methods using these tools, and study their impact on students' learning outcomes, motivation and attitudes towards science.

The high school physics experience has a crucial impact on students' attitude towards science, as well as on the learning outcomes in introductory physics courses. Improving the students' success rate by facilitating the transition from high school to university is a pressing issue for a majority of Ontario Universities. This is why at Ryerson I initiated an outreach program to the community of high school physics teachers and volunteered to collaborate with representatives of the Toronto District School Board.

I believe in the need for on-going professional development. As educators we have a duty to share our findings with our colleagues. I am always ready to share my experience in using educational technologies and interactive pedagogies with my colleagues at Ryerson and beyond. This is why I became involved with professional organizations, whose mandate is to improve physics education and to advance the professional development of physics faculty at all levels. Currently, I serve as a Chair of the Division of Physics Education of the Canadian Association of Physicists; I am a Member of the Committee on International Physics Education of the American Association of Physics Teachers AAPT), an Ontario Section Representative to AAPT, and a member of the executive board of the Ontario Association of Physics Teachers. Over the last several years I delivered numerous contributed and invited talks and taught several workshops at local, national and international conferences, and professional society meetings.

I believe that while we teach, we also learn from our students. I always seek informal feedback from my students, and I am always open to their suggestions. I view each new teaching assignment as a challenge and an opportunity to learn more about teaching itself and about my students. Last but not the least, students endowed with a life-long thrust of curiosity and learning will be competitive and successful in their endeavors of choice. In order to transform our students into life-long learners we, as educators, must lead by example by being proactive and always strive for our own self-improvement.

 

Ted Rogers School of Management

Dave Valliere

I believe that teaching is an equal partnership between instructor and learner and a process of joint discovery, one which works best when both parties make firm commitments for their own roles and have clear expectations of each other. I typically begin new courses by making explicit this social contract between me and my students using some variant of the following to provoke discussion:

I will

  • Provide the opportunity to learn
  • Respect your investment of time and money
  • Deliver value added content in every class

You will

  • Contribute to your own learning outcome
  • Respect my investment of time and effort
  • Prepare adequately for every class

Because I view education as this equal partnership, I do not subscribe to a "consumer" model of education. I have expectations of students and hold them accountable to meet them, and I encourage them to hold me equally accountable to meet my commitments to them.

I generally aim the level of my classes at the students who are slightly higher than average performance, to provide an attainable challenge for most. I provide additional supports, tutorials and extra materials to help the weaker students keep up with the class as a whole. I also take occasional bursts to dizzying heights to provide challenges for the top students and inspire the average students to give them some glimpse of how far the subject matter goes, and some intuitive sense of the joy of learning and exploring at the very frontiers of knowledge. Such outbursts are immediately followed by translations into plain terms and simple analogies to help the other students to see where we've been and to be encouraged, rather than discouraged by the distance covered. By making such translations into everyday terms, I help all students realize that there is nothing arcane or insurmountable about academic heights. Anyone can visit there if motivated to do the climbing.

I like to draw widely for the materials used in class, to connect with both popular culture and great academics of the past. My business courses frequently address important social issues of the day, quote relevant poetry, and discuss relevant Eastern and Western philosophical ideas ("There was nothing special about Socrates except his willingness to challenge what he actually knew and to face his own ignorance"). I also commonly draw inspiration from great scientists (e.g., Newton or Feymann) to encourage entrepreneurship students to try to examine the world more critically and more incisively than most people. Through this approach, I try to inspire these students to have the intellectual courage to act independently and decisively, and the skills and intellectual rigour to do so successfully. As I frequently tell students: "If you say you want to be an entrepreneur, most people will tell you you're crazy! And they just might be right. How would you know?"

But to challenge and stretch students to these heights, it is also essential to establish a safe and supportive environment, one where students know they have been equipped with all the necessary knowledge, skills, tools and attitudes, and where they know it is okay to experiment, to try yet fail, and to regroup and begin again. And so it is my challenge to strike a delicate balance between entreating them to reach higher than they think possible, and showing them how far they have already climbed! For example, in early classes I will strive to demystify the exclusionary jargon of specialist fields (such as venture capital financing) to help students develop confidence and a common sense approach to the underlying concepts. But in later classes I will slowly reintroduce the jargon by highlighting the important but subtle distinctions that are missed by common plain languages treatments of the subject. Students come away from the experience with an advanced understanding of the material, achieved without ever feeling swamped or lost.

In this manner I try to get all my students to approach the very edge of current knowledge of the entrepreneurship field, warts and all. I want them all to have the confidence to develop views and positions uniquely their own, with a confidence that is firmly grounded in informed opinions and in having done the wide ranging and careful thinking necessary to be sure they aren't "crazy" for wanting to pursue an entrepreneurial path.

Steven Gedeon

My philosophy of experiential learning is based on constructionism and the theories of situated learning and cognitive apprenticeship. My teaching philosophy is also informed by metaphysics, epistemology, the nature of human consciousness and the means for acquiring and transferring knowledge. The fundamental building blocks of my teaching philosophy include:

Objective Reality - There is an objective reality outside of the teacher and student and our mission is to work together to understand it and take actions within that reality to achieve our goals. By situating the learning within important real-world situations, students learn better, work harder, and see the real consequences of their actions. Since each situation is unique, teacher and student must work together to discover the appropriate analysis tools, concepts, strategies, actions and outcome measures.

Volition - The student must choose whether or not to engage in the hard work required to learn. The teacher must thus constantly motivate the student either by ensuring that the situation has an inherent important value to the student or by ensuring that the student clearly understands how the application of focused effort will lead to positive personal outcomes.

Limited Consciousness - A human consciousness cannot grasp all aspects of reality simultaneously. We need tools for unit reduction. The formation and use of concepts serves to reduce the number of units to be grasped at any one moment and provides a specific means for acquiring and transferring knowledge. There are three foundational thinking tools and skills that I focus on:

  • Analysis (Essentialization) - in order to reduce the number of units, teacher and student must be able to pare away the minor details and articulate the essentials relevant to a situation. For example, instead of calculating 37 financial ratios or compiling HR surveys, we must discover the essential points such as "the company is in financial distress" or "the poorly-defined org structure leads to lack of role clarity". Reality is complex: we cannot hope to understand all the issues in a business if we cannot first discover and articulate the most essential ones.
  • Synthesis (Principle Formation) - the number of units may also be reduced by combining essential issues into one higher level principle. For example, the company may be in financial distress, customers may be leaving, and a new competitor may emerge. A synthesis of all this information might be "the company needs a new product development strategy".
  • Integration (Action) - it is not enough just to create a new strategy or plan. There may be a multitude of implementation issues arising out of the company-wide integration of the new plan. Student and teacher must discover the concrete actions (tasks, milestones, responsibilities…) required in the situation in order to assess whether or not the desired outcomes can be achieved in reality. Students may also frequently learn more from their implementation failures than from business theories.

Of course these abstract philosophical principles must be articulated to the students in a comprehensible way and concretized for them so that they understand what the teacher is trying to teach within any given situation. I use the following hierarchy of principles:

Gedeon Graph

Most of my experiential learning is situated within an organizational context such as a company or non-profit organization. Students must perform an external market analysis and internal company competency analysis using a variety of tools and articulate the essential issues the company is facing. These facts of reality drive the company vision and mission. The students must synthesize these into the company's strategy which in turn drives the implementation of the strategic plan into the actions of all employees.

Students often struggle to grasp how this all fits together within an organizational context, unless they are actively situated within the organization itself.

An excellent pedagogical tool is to show the analogy between the company and the individual student. Each student must analyze his or her own reality and face up to his or her own personal strengths and weaknesses. Students learn many analysis tools to discover their aptitudes, interests and learning styles. They learn how to discover and articulate their own personal values and beliefs and to synthesize these into their own personal SMART goals. Just as a company's strategic plan is a blueprint for how to achieve its desired outcomes, so too an individual's goals drive the actions necessary to achieve their desires. Finally, students learn how to integrate their goals into every aspect of their daily actions whether those goals be character related goals of integrity and honesty or weight reduction goals that demand they modify their eating habits and lifestyle choices.

The hierarchy of principles shown above also helps describe my teaching psychology which is predominantly influenced by goal-setting theory and supported by valence-instrumentality-expectancy theory and socio-cognitive theory. In essence, these state that student performance is heavily driven by the goals that students set for themselves. Higher goals yield higher performance. Low goals or no goals yield poor performance. Goals set jointly by students in collaboration with their teachers and supported by the proper instrumentality and expectancy frameworks should consistently lead to exceptional performance.

This exceptional performance is precisely what I attempt to achieve with every student.

Very early in my student relationships, I ask them to analyze their aptitudes and interests and articulate their values and beliefs. I set extremely high goals and I work collaboratively with them to establish their own goals. I then work closely with them within the situated learning context to integrate these goals into every action in order to achieve their desired performance. To concretize the desired outcomes, I have students prepare hypothetical future resumes so they can see how their performance will be viewed by prospective employers. I extensively use peer feedback in many team-based formats to augment my own feedback.

My personal teaching goals, driven by my teaching philosophy, are as follows:

  • I continuously strive for personal improvement and teaching excellence. I read over 40 books a year and have read over a hundred books on philosophy, goal-setting, and psychology as well as books from the motivational and coaching experts. I have at least 2 extensive feedback sessions in every semester course and my SIFE team and work-study students engage in extensive feedback sessions.
  • I teach "around the cycle" to address all the primary learning styles. I make the standardized learning style inventories available to my students and point out when I am teaching to different styles.
  • I am inspirational and motivate all the time. I continuously emphasize the integration between the learning situation and the students' personal values and goals. I help my students set great goals and achieve exceptional outcomes.
  • I integrate personal success, goal-setting, and time management skills into every learning opportunity. I teach life skills first and business skills second.
  • I form supportive relationships with my students and make myself readily available. I "turn off the noise of my own personal life" so that I may focus my full and absolute attention on those I meet. I invest time with my students.
  • I strive for transformative relationships. My students stay in touch with me after graduation and some invite me to their weddings. Several hundred students have invited me to be their Friends on Facebook and I always accept the invitation.
  • I contribute back to my colleagues, faculty and fellow academics. When I go to a conference, I make a formal presentation on what I have learned when I return. I publish peer-reviewed articles on teaching. I typically make well over a dozen professional speaking presentations, public workshops and guest lectures per year outside of my normal teaching. I have written, produced and "starred" in over a dozen on-line educational videos on entrepreneurship.

Donald Tavares

Teaching is the cornerstone of my professional life. It is my passion. I view my students as the important and integral part of my professional existence and so I welcome them and I respect them.

Students take courses for a variety of reasons. Often, a primary reason is to satisfy requirements needed to get a diploma or degree. Quantitative courses, particularly when offered in a school of business management in which I teach, often fall into this category. I take it as a challenge therefore, to try to arouse in my students, a keenness for what I teach so that they will have a lifelong understanding of it and interest in it.

My objective in teaching is to engage the students beyond the realm of passing a course; to impart to them an appreciation for the elegance of the discipline and the concepts; to have them comprehend its usefulness and application in areas of life beyond the parameters of a business diploma or degree.

To realize this objective, my classroom teaching techniques are student centered, which means that the students’ comprehension drives and paces the lectures. To me, “that the student understands” is of the utmost importance. To this end my teaching method is “immediate feedback” oriented which is interactive.

Rather than just lecturing one way, my classroom presentations are regularly interspersed, enlivened and punctuated by questions by me to the students and to me by the students. In an atmosphere of keen and genuine enquiry, students are urged and encouraged to actively participate in the process of their learning. Students’ answers and questions provide immediate feedback which point to their areas of weaknesses which help fine tune my direction in bridging the gaps in their knowledge of the material. At all times, in addition to my classroom efforts I impress upon my students the importance of them doing their part, which is to study sufficiently. I remind them of Benjamin Franklin’s observation: By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.

To teach effectively preparedness is essential. And it is paramount when one is teaching quantitative subjects such as statistics, mathematics and computing as I do. For me preparedness in teaching means not only having a thorough knowledge of the material being taught and using every means available (audio, visual, computer graphics, handouts and even designing one’s own computer programs) to provide interest, clarity and understanding. More than that for me preparedness means putting oneself in the students’ position, imagining oneself with the overall knowledge base and life experience of the particular students and gearing the explanations, examples and visuals to them accordingly.

The progression from topic to topic is made when I am satisfied that the overwhelming majority have understood what is being taught. This is facilitated by using the “immediate feedback” method described above, wherein through lively interactive exchanges of questions and answers during lectures I learn what students have learned or need to learn more.

The regular dialogs with students in the classroom lectures are stimulating and very enjoyable to me and I hope always that they are for my students as well. That surely is my aim! I firmly believe that by actively participating in the process of my teaching them, students become partners with me in instilling in themselves critical thinking, clarity of concepts and my greatest hope, a quest for lifetime learning not only of my subjects but all else.

Genevieve Farrell

I try to teach in colour! I am such a visual learner - I try to paint what we are studying. This means lots of visuals - power points, videos, handouts as well as stories, metaphors & analogies.

Recognizing each student is an individual, I try to be sensitive to his/her needs & to accommodate him/her. Students have different learning styles so I design projects that will appeal to their unique approaches. I am very familiar with the True Colours personality assessment tool. For “oranges” I have created action type projects, such as visiting community agencies; for “blues” I have team projects that meet their relationship needs & projects where they are “helping” others, such as the fund-raisers; for “golds”, I have policy critiques & for the “greens” I have research papers. I am empathetic to students who face barriers & hardships, whether it be it a disability or a personal problem. I am always learning what my biases are.

I am comfortable with the use of humour & fun in the classroom, incorporating funny cartoons in the overheads, comical clips from everything like Saturday Night Live to Frasier or silly actions by me (dancing & singing)! I do let my personal interests shine through - students know I am fond of chocolate, Bruce Springsteen & the Blue Jays. If someone’s cell phone goes off in class, that person needs to bring chocolate for everyone next class.

Participate. Participate. Participate. I believe students learn best if they are actively engaged in the education process. I use a variety of techniques: small group discussions & activities, brainstorming & reporting back; self-analysis questionnaires; discussion threads in Blackboard (e.g., this semester in the Equity & Diversity class, we identified germane movies, such as “Crash”); role plays, structured simulations & relevant games. I invite students to generate final exam questions for some of the courses.

I want students to do well & so will bring resources that are offered to them here at Ryerson right into the classroom rather than just tell them about these services: the Career Centre, the Integrity Officer, the Librarian, Student Services & so on. I design handouts that can be helpful to them, such as “APA Tips”.

I have been inspired by some great traditional & not so traditional “teachers”! Miss Deck, my grade 2 teacher & daughter of Fran Deck of “Fran’s Restaurants”, taught me about sharing with those less fortunate than ourselves. Our class created gifts for Seniors in a nursing home & I was chosen to deliver them. President Kennedy’s famous speech, “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” profoundly touched my soul. I was impressed with my Uncle Gerry’s passion for teaching, my Aunt Elizabeth’s concern for her students & my Uncle Pat’s duty to do the right thing. My grade 6 teacher, Mr. Kramer, made the “new girl”, me, feel welcome & supported. The nuns & the teachers at St. Mary’s High School, well they just expected that I would do my best & that I would do well.

Dr. Luke Novelli, my Organizational Behaviour professor at Gonzaga University where I did my MBA, surprised me by making me an offer to be his TA. His reaching out to me & his love of the field inspired me to say OB is for me! Long before I met the best teacher I ever had in my doctoral studies, Dr. Martin Evans unknowingly influenced my teaching style. He wrote a chapter for the OB text book we used in my MBA programme. His topic was leadership. He included the advice of Lao_Tse” at the end of the chapter

A leader is best
When people barely know he exists.
Not so good when people obey him & acclaim him.
Worse when they despise him.
“Fail to honour people, they fail to honour you.”
But of a good leader, who talks little,
When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say
“We did this ourselves.”

I have learned to be a better, more generous teacher at Ryerson thanks to the collaboration with my OB/HR colleagues, especially my HR idol, Pat Sniderman. And the greatest teachers I ever had are my dear parents (Ann & Frank) who taught me love & respect of God, family, community & country. I try to emulate their philosophy of peace in my contacts with my students & team mates.

 

The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education

Melissa Abramovitz

I teach what I know, which is both an extraordinary privilege and an opportunity, because I teach about conflict, conflict engagement, and issues of diversity, an area of study that I am deeply passionate about. I did not deliberately set out to become a teacher. To date, after having taught a few hundred students, I still feel a little embarrassed when I’m referred to as ‘Professor’. There is so much yet to learn about this subject, that I invariably feel that I’m learning along with my students.

How would I define my teaching philosophy? It goes something like this: to teach well, I need to move with my students through the learning process and model the attitudes and behaviours that reflect the ideology and practice of conflict transformation as we complete the journey together. I encourage my students to reflect upon and challenge their personal assumptions and bias, which can make them feel uncomfortable. Often this feeling of discomfort can lead to an awakening concerning long-held patterns of behaviour and thinking, which can be a little bit scary. If my students have the courage to work their way through this with me, then I have to be willing to do the same with respect to my own personal assumptions and bias.

This means being flexible and responsive to the needs of the class and recognising that each group is different and unique. It means practicing a dialogic style of teaching that places principles and values at the centre of a class that is devoid of hierarchy. It means listening and communicating in a way that I hope they will adopt in their own professional and personal lives, while at the same time, not being ‘preachy’ about it. After all, I’m not perfect and the subjective nature of my subject matter can lend itself to different interpretations.

I believe that all students arrive in the classroom possessing skills, experience and wisdom drawn from their personal life lessons that enrich the classroom experience when shared. I don’t believe in ‘telling’ when I teach. I prefer to ask questions and to encourage students to explore what the subject means to them. I create collaborative learning activities so that everybody has an opportunity to express themselves. By providing opportunity for individual reflection, paired, small group and whole class discussion, students can choose how they will participate. This is the most important aspect of teaching for me; ensuring that all students feel safe to express themselves. In my class, there is always space for humour, emotion and constructive controversy.

I have a lot of respect for my students and I’m not shy about telling them so. The majority of them are mature students who continue to work professionally in the Health and Community Social Service sector. It is important that the content of the course be relevant to their diverse professional practices. At the start of each course, I ask students to complete a Statement of Expectations for two purposes. One, is to help students think deliberately about their personal goals for the course. The other is for me to get a sense of who these particular learners are. Typically, I learn that many students expect to be able to apply new skills and knowledge in their work settings.

To sum up, I feel that it is both a privilege and an opportunity to teach conflict engagement and diversity to Continuing Education students. What I teach may be of interest for those looking to gain academic knowledge in this area, but far more importantly for me, it is also an expression of a way of being in the world. Mastering this subject area is a life-long journey, and so it is my privilege to introduce students to what may be for some, a new way of seeing and thinking. For me, it is also an opportunity because with each session that I teach, I learn something new about the material and equally importantly, I learn something new about myself.

Oren Amitay

My approach to teaching since my first position as a peer tutor in Grade 11 has been guided mainly by three simple principles: 1) Students deserve the best instruction possible, 2) there is always room for improvement, and 3) any experience can serve as the inspiration or catalyst for improvement. Being a student for most of my life has provided many opportunities to observe teachers and professors who either exemplify the preceding beliefs or, conversely, represent philosophies and practices to avoid as an instructor. I have tried to apply the lessons learned from such models in my various teaching capacities which, in turn, have further helped me develop my teaching style.

My approach is also informed by research conducted on my own and while completing my teaching certificate. Given the nature of my field of study and clinical practice, I have been most interested in the various psychological factors that influence students’ potential for academic success, particularly their motivation. I accordingly strive to optimize their motivation through several means. First, I make it clear how much I love my dual careers in teaching and clinical psychology, trying to leave no doubt that I want to be in that classroom and that I want them to feel the same way. Second, from the beginning I explicitly state my intentions as an instructor, namely my commitment to providing the best education possible and to instilling in students certain skills that are relevant to various areas of functioning beyond the classroom. I explain that my commitment extends to accountability as well, in that ultimately I am there to serve the students. This latter statement may seem clichéd, but the feedback from my students, including those who were kind enough to provide letters of support for my nomination, suggest that they do appreciate seeing their instructor make such outright acknowledgments. More important, they appreciate seeing me endeavour to back up my stated intentions through my actions and attitude during the term. I believe they accurately perceive such attempts as a demonstration of my respect for students, which I further try to convey by emphasizing that each of them is a valued individual who has the capacity to contribute something unique to the class.

Communicating respect is the third way I try to motivate students. In fact, I soon discovered a discouraging fact regarding how some Ryerson students view themselves and the university, as reflected in comments such as “Why are his standards so high? Doesn’t he know this is only Ryerson? We’re not U of T or York.” I make it very clear from the first day of class that I rank Ryerson, as well as my department and colleagues, on a par with those other universities, both of which I have attended and worked at. I accordingly respect my students enough to believe they deserve to be communicated with in a manner commensurate with their abilities and experiences, be they associated with academia or any other areas of life such as their careers, family, and so on. In other words, I let my students know that I believe they have the ability to learn at a level consistent with my high expectations.

Returning to my previous point about being accountable to students, I explain that I will do my part to help them perform up to their potential, so that they can succeed in my demanding courses. It was extremely gratifying and humbling to see the accompanying letters of support from students, which indicate that they appreciate and benefit from my efforts to accomplish this goal. In addition to welcoming my attempts to bring an innovative and engaging approach to class, students apparently are grateful for my commitment to being as available to them as possible through EMail and “Instant Messenging.” Although making myself so available increases the possibility that students may rely on me too much or overwhelm me with their requests for assistance, such has not been the case. This is likely due in part to my aforementioned emphasis on how capable I believe everyone has the potential to be and how I expect them to try to work to that level. That is, I try to encourage students to develop an inner locus of control: a sense of personal responsibility for their choices, actions and outcomes. In light of my assurances of accountability, together with the effort I put into all other aspects of the course, students do know that I am always happy to provide extra guidance or assistance when necessary, as long as they do their part.

One potential concern regarding my philosophy and teaching approach would be if students mistakenly believed that my devotion to helping them was driven by insecurity, lack of confidence, or a “need to be liked.” Or, students could misinterpret my spontaneous, lighthearted, approachable and interactive style as a lack of respect or seriousness toward my profession. Such misattributions would counteract my attempts to inspire students to succeed, as they would likely not be compelled by dubious motives or hypocritical urgings to “do as I say, not as I do.”

Fortunately, the abovementioned letters of support, along with Course Evaluations from each term, indicate that students recognize the competence, confidence, professionalism, and expertise I bring to my courses. Realizing that my efforts are not fuelled by insecurity, they should sense that my motives are sincere; as described in those letters of support, students do appear to understand that the “special touches” I add to my classes serve only one purpose: to benefit students. It is my hope that seeing me invest so much time and energy into my courses due to my love of teaching, dedication to my field, high standards, and desire for them to succeed, will inspire students to exert themselves and capitalize on the opportunities available to them at Ryerson.

I am aware that all of my best intentions and strongest encouragement to succeed will mean little if students are not motivated to attend class. To this end, I always challenge myself to present information that students will not likely encounter elsewhere. Given the subject matter of most of my courses, I also try to help them see how the lessons learned in class can relate to many different aspects of their lives. Once again, I am encouraged to see from my students’ letters of support that they appreciate these and other teaching objectives I set for myself. Such positive feedback suggests that I am on the right track with respect to my philosophy of teaching, intentions, beliefs about students’ needs, and execution of my duties at Ryerson.

Nevertheless, as stated above, there is always room for improvement. I thus deeply value feedback from my students during class, through evaluations, and elsewhere. I also spend considerable time reviewing my lessons and investigating and experimenting with different ways to achieve my teaching goals. Maintaining this perspective enables me to continue to uphold the ideals of my profession and to try to provide my students with learning experiences as valuable as they deserve.

 

 

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

 

Journals and Publications

This list was originally compiled by Teresa A. Johnson, Instructional Consultant, Faculty & TA Development, Ohio State University. The LTO is grateful to her for sharing the following useful resources.

 

 

General Subject Focus

 

  • Academic Exchange Quarterly
    Academic Exchange Quarterly is dedicated to the presentation of ideas, research, methods, and pedagogical theories leading to effective instruction and learning regardless of level or subject. We are an independent double-blind-peer-reviewed print journal, a customer-driven academic journal. Additionally, as noted above, we also publish key articles online.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Assessment Update
    Assessment Update is dedicated to covering the latest developments in the rapidly evolving area of higher education assessment. Assessment Update offers all academic leaders up-to-date information and practical advice on conducting assessments in a range of areas, including student learning and outcomes, faculty instruction, academic programs and curricula, student services, and overall institutional functioning.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning
    Well known and respected as an opinion magazine dealing with contemporary issues in higher learning, the award-winning Change spotlights trends, provides new insights, and analyzes the implications of educational programs. Articles cover influential institutions and individuals, new teaching methods, curriculum, finances, governance, and public policy.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • College Teaching
    College Teaching, a unique, cross-disciplinary journal, focuses on how teachers can improve student learning. Each issue includes practical ideas and new strategies for successful teaching. Both new and veteran faculty appreciate the scope of CT’s rigorously refereed articles on classroom research, student assessment, diversity, student-centered instruction, and accountability within the academy.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • College Quarterly
    College Quarterly is an academic journal devoted to the improvement of college education and the professional development of college educators. Focused on colleges in Canada but developed to serve the common needs of college educators in North America and worldwide, CQ is a resource for teaching and learning and provides an opportunity for research publication, information about developments of significance to college educators, and commentary on policy issues of concern to the educational community and its attentive publics.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Higher Education Research and Development (HERD)
    Higher Education Research and Development is a refereed international journal, established in 1982 as the principal learned journal of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. HERD aims to serve the needs of teachers, researchers, students, administrators and those concerned with the present and future of higher education. The journal publishes research-based articles on the theory and practice of higher education. This includes comparative reviews and critically reflective case studies, as well as empirically-based papers. All articles are appropriately framed for an international audience, and are designed to lead to critical insights into the area being addressed.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Innovative Higher Education
    Innovative Higher Education is a refereed scholarly journal that strives to package fresh ideas in higher education in a straightforward and readable fashion. The four main purposes of Innovative Higher Education are: (1) to present descriptions and evaluations of current innovations and provocative new ideas with relevance for action beyond the immediate context in higher education; (2) to focus on the effect of such innovations on teaching and students; (3) to be open to diverse forms of scholarship and research methods by maintaining flexibility in the selection of topics deemed appropriate for the journal; and (4) to strike a balance between practice and theory by presenting manuscripts in a readable and scholarly manner to both faculty and administrators in the academic community.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site)
  • InSight: A Journal of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
    InSight is a refereed journal published annually by CETL that features theoretical and empirically-based research articles, critical reflection pieces, case studies and classroom innovations relevant to teaching, learning and assessment. Unique from many discipline-based and teaching-oriented journals, InSight focuses each edition on a specific topic or theme relevant to current trends in higher education.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • International Journal for Academic Development
    Development in higher education is a fast growing area. This journal reports on advances in theory and practice and includes discussions on the development of models and theories for supporting and leading improvements in teaching and learning, and debates current issues at the forefront of educational change.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (IJTLHE)
    The International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education provides a forum for higher education faculty, staff, administrators, researchers, and students who are interested in improving post-secondary instruction. The IJTLHE provides broad coverage of higher education pedagogy across diverse content areas, educational institutions, and levels of instructional expertise. The specific emphasis of IJTLHE is dissemination of knowledge for improving higher education pedagogy. Electronic distribution of IJTLHE maximizes global availability.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Online Journal)
    is an open, peer-reviewed, international electronic journal published twice a year by the Center for Excellence in Teaching at Georgia Southern University to be an international vehicle for articles, essays, and discussions about the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and its applications in higher/tertiary education today. All submissions undergo a double-blind peer-review process.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Journal of Effective Teaching (Online Journal)
    The Journal of Effective Teaching, a peer reviewed electronic journal devoted to the discussion of teaching excellence in colleges and universities. The Journal of Effective Teaching will publish two regular issues per year and possibly a special issue on a current topic. The regular issues will contain articles in two broad Content Areas: effective teaching and the scholarship of teaching. We invite contributors to share their insights in pedagogy, innovations in teaching and learning, and classroom experiences in the form of a scholarly communication. We are particularly interested in topics addressed in the particular Content Areas described at this site, including empirical research on pedagogy, innovations in teaching and learning, and classroom experiences.
    (Publisher's Web site)
  • Journal of Experimental Education
    The Journal of Experimental Education publishes theoretical, laboratory, and classroom research studies that use the range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Recent articles have explored the correlation between test preparation and performance, enhancing students' self-efficacy, the effects of peer collaboration among students, and arguments about statistical significance and effect size reporting.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission Guidelines)
  • Journal of Further and Higher Education
    Journal of Further & Higher Education is an international (UK), peer-reviewed journal which publishes articles and book reviews representing the whole field of post-16 education and training. Topic areas include management and administration, teacher education and training, curriculum, staff and institutional development, and teaching and learning strategies and processes.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Journal of Higher Education
    Founded in 1930, The Journal of Higher Education (JHE), published by The Ohio State University Press, is the leading scholarly journal on the institution of higher education. Articles combine disciplinary methods with critical insight to investigate issues important to faculty, administrators, and program managers.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site)
  • Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Online Journal)
    Founded in 2001, the Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (JoSoTL) is a forum for the dissemination of the SoTL in higher education for the community of teacher-scholars. The journal promotes SoTL investigations that are theory-based and supported by evidence. JoSoTL's objective is to publish articles that promote effective practices in teaching and learning and add to the knowledge base. JoSoTL is sponsored by The Mack Center at Indiana University for Inquiry on Teaching and Learning.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice (JUTLP) (Online Journal)
    The Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice is a bi-annual, peer-reviewed journal publishing papers that add significantly to the body of knowledge describing effective and innovative teaching and learning practice in the higher education environment. The Journal aims to provide a forum for educational practitioners in a wide range of disciplines to communicate their teaching and learning outcomes in a scholarly way. Its purpose is to bridge the gap between journals covering purely academic research and more pragmatic articles and opinions published elsewhere.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Learning and Instruction
    Learning and Instruction is an international, multi-disciplinary journal that provides a platform for the publication of the most advanced high-quality research in the areas of learning, development, instruction and teaching.
    The journal welcomes reports of original empirical investigations, and replications or extensions of important previous work; critical, integrative theoretical and methodological contributions. A preference, however, will be given to empirically-based studies. The focus will be on European work in the field. However, contributions from non-European experts as well as non-members of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction are encouraged.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LATHE) (Online Journal)
    LATHE is an interdisciplinary refereed journal providing an accessible international forum for scholarly debate related to learning, teaching and assessment in higher education. LATHE aims to serve as an effective dissemination mechanism for pedagogic research and development through the publication of scholarly articles, book reviews and case studies of effective practice. The Editorial Board encourages contributions which promote innovative teaching, learning and assessment approaches that may be considered for adoption or adaptation by academics worldwide.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site)
  • Learning Inquiry
    Learning Inquiry is a refereed scholarly journal, which is devoted to establishing the area of "learning" as a focus for transdisciplinary study. The journal's goal is to be a forum centered on learning that remains open to varied objects of enquiry, including machine, human, plant and animal learning as well as the processes of learning in business, government, and the professions, both in informal and formal environments. The audience for this journal is anyone interested in learning, understanding its contexts, and anticipating its future.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site)
  • National Teaching & Learning Forum
    The National Teaching and Learning Forum began publication in the fall of 1991 as a joint venture with the ERIC Clearinghouse on Higher Education. ERIC/HE already published a series of short books reviewing research literature on various higher education topics, and it embraced the idea of The National Teaching and Learning Forum warmly as an extension of its mission.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • New Directions for Teaching & Learning
    New Directions for Teaching and Learning continues to offer a comprehensive range of ideas and techniques for improving college teaching based on the experience of seasoned instructors and on the latest findings of educational and psychological researchers.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Studies in Higher Education
    Studies in Higher Education welcomes empirically based, reflective and synoptic articles dealing with any aspect of higher education, approached from any perspective or discipline. A key criterion for publication is that articles should be written in an accessible, but rigorous, style that is likely to engage those without a specialist interest in the topic being discussed.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Teaching in Higher Education
    Teaching in Higher Education is an international, peer-reviewed journal. The journal addresses the roles of teaching, learning and the curriculum in higher education in order to explore and clarify the intellectual challenges which they present. The journal is interdisciplinary and aims to open up discussion across subject areas by involving all those who share an enthusiasm for learning and teaching.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission Guidelines)
  • The Teaching Professor
    The Teaching Professor is a forum for discussion of the best strategies supported by the latest research for effective teaching in the college classroom. From tips for class discussion to mentoring fellow faculty, The Teaching Professor stretches from the theoretical to the highly specific. Typical topics include assessment and evaluation, engagement of student interest, faculty time management, and the learner-centered classroom.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library)
  • Tertiary Education and Management
    Tertiary Education and Management is the journal of The European Higher Education Society (EAIR). It is intended for professionals in the area of higher education management, and for academics researching that area. These professionals and academics will be working in universities, polytechnics and other higher education institutions - primarily but not exclusively in Europe - either in university administration, or in academic departments with particular research interests in management issues.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Transformative Dialogues: Teaching and Learning Journal
    Transformative Dialogues is a forum for conversations intended to foster the improvement of adult teaching and learning. TD facilitates the multi-disciplinary exchange of ideas, actions, and results of innovative and professional practice in the scholarship of teaching and learning. These conversations are intended to span a wide range of reflections on the processes of teaching and learning ranging from the scholarly to scholarship. Reflections and understandings shared are focused on improving student and faculty learning, and critical thought processes in their current and future life long learning.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Women in Higher Education
    Women in Higher Education is a monthly practitioner’s news journal, designed to help smart women on campus get wise about how gender affects their being successful in the male-dominated world of higher education. Its goals are to enlighten, encourage, empower and enrage women on campus. By sharing problems and solutions, women can learn to talk back, refuse to accept blame and quit taking guff from people who are less enlightened.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)

 

Specific Method Focus

 

  • Active Learning in Higher Education
    Active Learning in Higher Education is an international, refereed publication for all those who teach and support learning in Higher Education and those who undertake or use research into effective learning, teaching and assessment in universities and colleges. The journal has an objective of improving the status of teaching and learning support as professional activity and embraces academic practice across all curriculum areas in higher education.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning
    The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning publishes relevant, interesting, and challenging articles of research, analysis, or promising practice related to all aspects of implementing problem-based learning (PBL) in K-12 and post-secondary classrooms.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning
    Since 1994, the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning (MJCSL) has been the premiere national, peer-reviewed journal publishing articles written by faculty and service-learning educators on research, theory, pedagogy, and other issues related to academic (curriculum-based) service-learning in higher education.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)

 

Distance Learning and Instructional Technology Focus

 

  • American Journal of Distance Education
    AJDE is the internationally recognized journal of research and scholarship in the field of American distance education. Distance education describes teaching-learning relationships where the actors are geographically separated and communication between them is through technologies such as audio and video broadcasts, teleconferences and recordings; printed study guides; and multimedia systems. The principal technology of current research interest is the World Wide Web, and subfields of distance education therefore include on-line learning, e-learning, distributed learning, asynchronous learning and blended learning.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Educational Technology and Research Development
    The only scholarly journal for the field focusing entirely on research and development in educational technology. Research Section features well documented articles on the practical aspects of research as well as applied theory in educational practice.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • F-LIGHT (E-newsletter from the TLT Group)
    The goal of this newsletter is to give local champions of assessment and evaluation materials on evaluations or assessments relating to educational uses of technology; inquiries whose findings justified the work and expense (if any) of doing the study. Evaluations need not be statistical, or grand: they just need to be some kind of intentional inquiry carried out to make things better.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Innovate: Journal of Online Education
    Innovate is a bimonthly, peer-reviewed online periodical published by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. The journal focuses on the creative use of information technology (IT) to enhance educational processes in academic, commercial, and governmental settings. Our basic assumption is that innovative uses of technology in one sector can inform innovative uses of technology in each of the other sectors.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site)
  • Technology and Learning
    Technology & Learning magazine is circulated to over 80,000 elementary, middle, and high school teachers, technology coordinators, and administrators at the building, district, and state levels. We publish articles that encourage educators to think about new approaches to teaching and new ways to use technology in the classroom. We cover all aspects of educational technology: hardware, software, and the Web.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site)

 

Students and Specific Populations Focus

 

  • Adult Education Quarterly
    Adult Education Quarterly, a publication of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, is a refereed journal committed to the dissemination of research and theory in adult and continuing education. Articles report research, construct theory, review and interpret literature, and critique work previously published in the journal.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Community College Journal of Research and Practice
    The journal is a multidisciplinary forum for researchers and practitioners in higher education and the behavioral and social sciences. It promotes an increased awareness of community college issues by providing an exchange of ideas, research, and empirically tested educational innovations.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Feminist Teacher
    Feminist Teacher (FT) provides discussions of such topics as multiculturalism, interdisciplinarity, and distance education within a feminist context. FT serves as a medium in which educators can describe strategies that have worked in their classrooms, institutions, or non-traditional settings; theorize about successes or failures; discuss the current place of feminist pedagogies and teachers in classrooms and institutions; and reveal the rich variety of feminist pedagogical approaches.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Gender and Education
    Gender and Education is an international forum for discussion of multidisciplinary educational research and ideas that focus on gender as a category of analysis. Contributors should bear in mind that they are addressing an international audience. The journal grew out of a feminist politics and is committed to developing the critical discussion of gender and education in its broadest sense. It is particularly interested in the place of gender in relation to other key social differences and seeks to further feminist knowledge, theory, consciousness, action and debate. We welcome contributions which examine and theorize the interrelated experiences of women and girls and men and boys, and how these shape and are shaped by other social differences. We expect articles to engage in feminist debate and to go beyond the simple description of what boys/men and girls/women do. Education will be interpreted in a broad sense to cover both formal and informal aspects, including nursery, primary and secondary education; youth cultures inside and outside schools; adult, community, further and higher education; vocational education and training; media education; parental education.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Journal of College Student Development
    The Journal of College Student Development (JCSD) is the leading scholarly journal on the study of college students in the field of student affairs. This is the publication of the American College Personnel Association.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk
    The Journal of Education for Students Placed At Risk (JESPAR) is the only academic journal to date which provides quantitative and qualitative research focused exclusively on improving the education of students placed at risk. JESPAR publishes literature and report reviews, research articles on promising reform programs, and case studies on "schools that work"; in doing so, JESPAR facilitates communication among all the stakeholders—researchers, policymakers, and educators—who are actively involved in thwarting the academic failure of students placed at risk.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • NACADA Journal
    The NACADA Journal , the biannual refereed journal of the National Academic Advising Association, exists to advance scholarly discourse about the research, theory, and practice of academic advising in higher education.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)

 

Local Focus

 

  • Academic Commons
    The Academic Commons is a blog focusing on issues in teaching and learning in higher education. The Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College sponsors the Academic Commons.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines [requires an account] )
  • Creative College Teaching Journal
    The Teaching and Learning Center of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas publishes the Creative College Teaching Journal. Each journal issue focuses on a single general topic. Article proposals are accepted from faculty anywhere.
    (Publisher's Web site)
  • Deliberations on teaching and learning in higher education
    published by London Metropolitan University
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • MountainRise
    MountainRise is an open, peer-reviewed, international electronic journal published twice a year by the Coulter Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning at Western Carolina University for the purpose of being an international vehicle for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL).
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Reaching Through Teaching (Online Journal)
    Reaching Through Teaching is a bi-annual, peer-reviewed online journal on the practice, philosophy, and scholarship of teaching in higher education, published by the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning of Kennesaw State University.
    (Publisher's Web site)
  • Transformative Dialogues
    Transformative Dialogues is a forum for conversations intended to foster the improvement of adult teaching and learning. TD facilitates the multi-disciplinary exchange of ideas, actions, and results of innovative and professional practice in the scholarship of teaching and learning. These conversations are intended to span a wide range of reflections on the processes of teaching and learning ranging from the scholarly to scholarship. Reflections and understandings shared are focused on improving student and faculty learning, and critical thought processes in their current and future life long learning. We understand that scholarship may play out differently in different disciplines, but the basic principles should be consistent (Boyer, 1992). Our journal adopts the principle that strategies, techniques and methods of teaching and learning transcend the boundaries of specific subject fields.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)

 

Education Journals that Publish SoTL on Higher Education

 

  • Educational Leadership
    EL is acknowledged throughout the world as an authoritative source of information about teaching and learning, new ideas and practices relevant to practicing educators, and the latest trends and issues affecting prekindergarten through higher education.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Journal of Educational Research
    The Journal of Educational Research is a well-known and respected periodical that reaches an international audience of educators and others concerned with cutting-edge theories and proposals. For more than 100 years, the journal has contributed to the advancement of educational practice in elementary and secondary schools by judicious study of the latest trends, examination of new procedures, evaluation of traditional practices, and replication of previous research for validation.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Review of Educational Research
    The Review of Educational Research (RER) is a forum for reviews of previously published work in a field that is populated by scholars from diverse traditions. Because of the increasing complexity of issues facing education and the varied perspectives that can be used to examine them, it is important that we develop tools that help scholars, policymakers, and others to make decisions and take action. We believe a review is this kind of a tool.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Teachers College Record
    Teachers College Record (TCR) publishes the very best scholarship in all areas of the field of education. Major articles include research, analysis, and commentary covering the full range of contemporary issues in education, education policy, and the history of education. The book section contains essay reviews of new books in a specific area as well as reviews of individual books. TCR takes a deliberately expansive view of education to keep readers informed of the study of education worldwide, both inside and outside of the classroom and across the lifespan.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)

 

Discipline or Area Specific Journals

 

  • Journal of College Science Teaching
    The professional journal for college teachers published by the National Science Teachers Association.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • LATISS - Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences
    Learning and Teaching in the Social Sciences is a refereed journal that aims to use the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, politics, international relations and social policy to reflect critically on learning and teaching practices in higher education and to analyse their relationship to changes in higher education policies and institutions. Discipline/UK
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)

 

Journals on Educational Development

 

  • The Journal of Faculty Development
    Reporting the latest in professional development activities at the 2-year college, 4-year college, and university levels. -- A highly successful stand-by that addresses concerns for your most valuable resource, PEOPLE! It is the one medium in higher education strictly addressing both the practical and theoretical aspects of the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of practices and programs leading to effective and efficient institutions and individuals.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site)
  • Journal of Graduate Teaching Assistant Development
    Guide to the study of improved training, employment and administration of graduate teaching assistant development programs. A new publication that addresses a critical need in higher education. The Journal is designed to highlight those aspects of the teaching assistantship which prepare graduate students for the multiple roles they play as assistants as well as for the multiple roles they will play as professionals upon leaving graduate school. The full range of issues involved in the administration of teaching assistantship programs are addressed.
    (Publisher's Web site)

 

Journals on Higher Education Issues & Institutions

 

  • The Journal of General Education
    For faculty, administrators, and policymakers, JGE is the professional forum for discussing issues in general education today. JGE addresses the general education concerns of community colleges, four-year colleges, universities, and state systems.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Liberal Education
    Liberal Education expresses the voices of educators, faculty and administrators in colleges and universities nationwide who are working to enrich liberal learning and undergraduate education. AAC&U's award-winning journal is the national forum about liberal education - a forum addressing teaching and learning, leadership, faculty innovation, and institutional change all in the service of improving undergraduate education.
    (Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)
  • Research in Higher Education
    Research in Higher Education is directed to those concerned with the functioning of the post-secondary education, including two-year and four-year colleges, universities, and graduate and professional schools. It is of primary interest to institutional researchers and planners, faculty, college and university administrators, student personnel specialists and behavioral scientists.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site)
  • The Review of Higher Education
    Considered one of the leading research journals in the field, The Review of Higher Education keeps scholars, academic leaders, and public policymakers abreast of critical issues facing higher education today. As the official journal of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the Review advances the study of college and university issues by publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, reviews, and research findings.
    (Access the journal through Ryerson Library, Publisher's Web site, Submission guidelines)

 

Additional SoTL Publication Resources

 

 

Organizations

 

Conferences

 

 

Are these resources helpful?

If you would like to make comments or suggestions, recommend useful resources, or share your practice, please email Michelle Schwartz, Instructional Design and Research Strategist, at michelle.schwartz@ryerson.ca

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