University of Calgary

Science instructors thrive in teaching and learning workshops

UToday HomeJuly 29, 2013

By Marie-Helene Thibeault

For Douglas Storey, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, the Faculty of Science’s Teaching and Learning Workshops have helped him gain new skills on how to teach science scientifically.For Douglas Storey, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, the Faculty of Science’s Teaching and Learning Workshops have helped him gain new skills on how to teach science scientifically. Left to right, professor Storey is shown supervising students Kurt Ebeling, Jessica Duong, and Brock Chappell in his lab. Photo by Marie-Helene ThibeaultThe Faculty of Science has reached the midpoint of its summer Teaching and Learning Workshop series and thus far, close to half of its faculty members have taken part.

Why is the series so popular? Anthony Tang, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, is one of 94 faculty members who have taken advantage of this new initiative which features bi-weekly, two-hour teaching development opportunities. “I think most academic staff members are perfectionists,” he admits. “We're here because we want to be awesome at everything we do. Teaching is an important part of my activity portfolio and I see this as an opportunity to think about and improve these skills.”

The Faculty of Science’s summer Teaching and Learning Workshops — on topics ranging from making sense of student feedback, to writing a teaching philosophy statement, to designing course and learning objectives, to assessing student learning — have been intently focused on attracting a broad audience and developing key skills for instructors.

“It's always nice to know that you're not the only one feeling like you are making mistakes,” adds Tang. “I find that the conversations with other workshop participants are excellent and allow me to learn about others’ tips, tricks, and strategies. This open dialogue encourages me to think about how I can apply them in my own practice.”

For Douglas Storey, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, these workshops have been enlightening with regards to how teaching theory applies to the advanced education environment.

“The most eye-opening concept that I have learned is that there is a very large amount of research on ‘teaching science scientifically,’ ” says Storey. “This includes research on everything from student motivation and learning types to how to assess your own teaching in the middle of the course.” 

Launched in January 2013, the Teaching and Learning Workshop initiative started off with monthly pilot sessions held throughout the winter and spring terms. The initiative ramped up this summer, offering a total of 14 sessions between the months of June and August.

“Workshop participants are unanimous in their feedback about the sessions,” explains Leslie Reid, associate dean (teaching and learning) for the Faculty of Science. “They value the opportunity to meet and learn from colleagues across the faculty and appreciate learning about the current research regarding learning and teaching.

“Our faculty is intent on fulfilling the institution’s Eyes High vision and delivering a world-class learning and teaching environment,” she adds. “We’ve committed to offering a wide array of innovative initiatives aimed at supporting the ongoing teaching development of all our members and it’s been extremely motivating to see so many join the workshops.”

To register for upcoming Faculty of Science Teaching and Learning workshops, visit: https://www.eventbrite.ca/event/6642226077?ref=ebtnebregn

 

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