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Excellence in Teaching

The Department of English's Award-Winning Teachers
September 21, 2015

Ryerson’s Department of English is a proven leader in teaching excellence and innovation, as seen in the recognition its faculty has received in recent years.

English faculty have been recognized for their important contributions to the common curriculum shared by first-year Faculty of Arts students. Dr. Martha Addante and Mr. Aaron Tucker, opens in new window, who are a part of the teaching team for the challenging and intensive “Academic Writing and Research” (SSH 205) course, have been recognized by Ryerson students in residence as “professors who made a mark” in 2014-15. As English Chair Dr. Nima Naghibi notes, “they do a remarkable job teaching first-year students in the Faculty of Arts how to read and write critically and inspiring in them an appreciation for literary study.” In previous years, Dr. Addante, along with Dr. Paul Chafe and Dr. David Copeland, were similarly recognized, opens in new window for “making a mark” on the early undergraduate learning experience.

Dr. Chafe is also the recipient of a 2014 Ryerson Learning and Teaching Enhancement Fund Award, opens in new window to better engage and empower millennial students and facilitate their learning both inside and outside the classroom by “flipping” SSH 205 -- delivering challenging concepts through a library of online lectures that students can view and review when required, thus freeing up class time as a full-on writing workshop in which the professor acts as a facilitator, tutor, and aide. In 2015, Dr. Chafe won the Faculty of Arts First-Year Teaching Award.

Both junior and senior English faculty have been recognized within Ryerson and beyond as outstanding teachers. For her teaching excellence in her first two years at Ryerson, Dr. Colleen Derkatch, opens in new window (pictured teaching, above) received the Faculty of Arts New Faculty Teaching Award in 2013. "I am honoured to receive this award," says Dr. Derkatch. "It's partly a recognition of the strength of Ryerson students: in all of my teaching, I foreground my role as a facilitator of students’ own learning, and I work to impart a strong sense of their own abilities as junior scholars. I strive to teach them to be self-teachers, and it's gratifying to watch them rise to the challenge. It's a skill they can carry with them throughout their careers and lives." Dr. Laura Fisher, opens in new window won the same award in 2015.

Full professor Dr. Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, opens in new window, the founding director of the Ryerson’s innovative English BA programme, was one of the recipients of a prestigious 2012/13 Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) Teaching Award. The awards recognize exceptional contributions made by professors to the quality of higher education in Ontario. (Dr. Janzen can be seen featured in the video "Faculty of Arts – Home of Teaching Excellence", opens in new window).

English faculty have also been recognized for their contributions to graduate teaching. Dr. Monique Tschofen, opens in new window was the 2013 recipient of the Yeates School of Graduate Studies Outstanding Contribution to Graduate Education Award, which "recognizes faculty excellence in the complex process of mentoring graduate students to prepare them for productive careers.” Dr. Tschofen, a much sought after supervisor, has mentored many successful graduate students both in the Literatures of Modernity MA programme, and in the joint Ryerson-York University Communications and Culture MA/PhD programme.

Experiential learning is a defining feature of the unique and innovative learning experience at Ryerson, and here too English faculty have been leaders. Dr. Irene Gammel, opens in new window, Canada Research Chair and Director of the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre (MLCRC), is the recipient of the 2014 Experiential Teaching Award in the Faculty of Arts. This award recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates exceptional teaching aptitude and dedication. MLCRC activities directed by Dr. Gammel provide excellent opportunities for hands-on research and event organization.

At the university-wide level, Dr. Lorraine Janzen Kooistra received the 2013 Provost's Experiential Teaching Award, which is given annually to a professor who has made contributions to advancing teaching and learning at Ryerson with a particular focus on students' experiential learning. This award is an impressive testament to Dr. Janzen's personal pedagogical excellence and innovation. "What thrills me most about this award is the recognition it brings to the Department of English and the Faculty of Arts for our collective commitment to experiential learning and undergraduate research," says Dr. Janzen. Digital exhibits by her students, showcasing their research and skills in online publishing, can be seen at the Children's Literature Archive's Student Exhibition Site, opens in new window.

As this recognition makes clear, the Department of English at Ryerson offers students, both current and future, the opportunity to learn from and with high-calibre scholars, teachers and mentors, in an innovative experiential learning environment.