Teaching and Educational Development

Jump to: Teaching | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) | Educational Development

Teaching

My primary goal as an educator in the post-secondary environment is to empower students learn to “think like scientists.” That is, I want to help create a community of people who value evidence, and think critically about the implications of science for us and our planet. As a scientist, I particularly value using evidence-based teaching practices, i.e. those that are well-supported by peer-reviewed research (i.e. scholarship of teaching and learning; more on this below), such as active learning and authentic scientific inquiry opportunities.

In my teaching career at Canadian universities, I have been the primary instructor for two courses: Principles of Animal Development (lecture and laboratory; Acadia University, Wolfville NS, 2013) and Evolution (lecture; Dalhousie University, Halifax NS, 2014). As an instructor for Principles of Animal Development, I designed an authentic scientific inquiry laboratory, during which students designed and conducted their own experiments on how stress impacts development of the brine shrimp Artemia franciscana. I have also been a teaching assistant during my B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. in variety of biology courses from 2008-2018 – ranging from cell biology and genetics to botany and animal physiology. In all my courses, I view myself as a guide who is there to help students identify the tools and strategies they need to become better thinkers and learners.

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Combining my love of science and teaching at a poster session in 2015 (Photo credit: Lauren E. Des Marteaux)

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Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

As someone who values evidence-based teaching practices, I have also engaged in scholarship on teaching and learning. During my Ph.D., I researched the ways that post-secondary students structure their understanding of animal physiology. I also studied classroom techniques that can help students think more “experts,” facilitating the growth of their critical reasoning and problem solving skills. I presented these results at the Western Conference on Science Education in 2017, and you can read the abstract here.

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Presenting at the Western Conference on Science Education in 2017 (Photo credit: Jacqueline E. Lebenzon)

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Educational Development

What is educational development, you might ask? It is essentially professional development of teaching or education skills – so if you’ve ever attended a workshop on how to improve your teaching, or consulted with someone on topics like how to design a course or help your students learn better, you have participated in educational development. During my M.Sc. completed the Dalhousie Certificate in University Teaching and Learning, and during my Ph.D. I later completed the Advanced Teaching Program and (internationally-recognized) Instructional Skills Workshop to further my personal educational development.

Because educational development made such a difference in my own teaching, I want to facilitate similar experiences for other people teaching at post-secondary institutions. I dipped my toe into the educational development world during my M.Sc., when I led my first workshop for teaching assistants (TAs) on best principles for facilitating labs at a TA Professional Development Day held by the Dalhousie University Centre for Teaching and Learning. I also wrote an article on the value of incorporating authentic scientific inquiry into laboratory instruction, which you can read here. During my Ph.D., I expanded my involvement by working part-time as a graduate student educational developer at the Western University Centre for Teaching and Learning. In this role, I facilitated workshops (e.g. the TA Training Program) on effective teaching for graduate TAs for three years (2016-2018). I strongly believe that facilitating the professional development of academic instructors (at all levels) is important to the teaching quality at post-secondary institutions.

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