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Teaching excellence

Educators honoured for making positive impact on students

Teaching and Learning

By Courtenay Griffin

Memorial University recognized five individuals that have demonstrated excellence in teaching and graduate supervision with a series of four President’s Awards recently.

Drs. Caroline Schiller, School of Music, and Christina Thorpe, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science, are the recipients of the 2021 President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Dr. Erin Fraser, School of Science and the Environment, Grenfell Campus, received the President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching (Faculty).

Edward Whalen, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, received the President’s Award for Outstanding Teaching (Lecturers and Instructional Staff).

Dr. Michelle Ploughman, Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, was awarded the President’s Award for Outstanding Graduate and Postgraduate Supervision.

Common traits

These awards honour individuals who have made a positive impact on their students, colleagues and communities with their commitment to effective teaching and to their students’ learning.

While they may hail from varied disciplines and professional experiences, recipients of these awards have a few outstanding traits in common.

They stimulate intellectual excitement in students, and facilitate their education and academic progress in a way that transforms students’ learning, career paths and lives.

On top of that, these educators stand out by contributing to a progressive teaching and learning culture, inspiring students and making a positive impact in the university community.

The photo essay below celebrates the 2021 recipients, with quotes from former students that highlight the impact they make through their teaching and supervision.

Nominations for the 2022 President’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Graduate Supervision are currently being accepted; the deadline has been extended to March 18, 2022. Learn more about the awards and nomination process.

1/ Dr. Caroline Schiller, School of Music

"During my three years studying with Dr. Schiller, nothing has been more important to me than my one-on-one class time with her," said Duncan Stenhouse, a former student. "Not only did she help to instil ... fundamentals into my learning, but she also allowed me to think critically about the task at hand and form pathways to come to my own conclusions so that I could grow as a critical thinker. This is what I appreciate most about my time with Dr. Schiller."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

2/ Dr. Christina Thorpe, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science

"Dr. Thorpe will always discuss how concepts and skills learned within the course may be applied to future careers and situations, and she will often require that you take these concepts and skills and apply them directly in class," said Maria Halleran, a former student. "Her employment of various feedback techniques allows students many occasions to have their voices be heard. Dr. Thorpe is always trying to improve the courses that she teaches and her pursuit to deliver academic excellence is one to be both admired and emulated."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

3/ Dr. Erin Fraser, School of Science and the Environment, Grenfell Campus

"Dr. Fraser was always so keen to know what the students had to say about the curriculum, and where they were struggling," said Dr. Emily Bolt, a former student and colleague. "If there was a concept that students were really having a hard time with, she would use some of her class time to go over concepts that she had previously covered to make sure everyone understood it. She always upheld the utmost professionalism and enthusiasm for academia and really wanted to instil a love of biology in her students."

Photo: Lori Lee Pike

4/ Edward Whalen, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science

"Mr. Whalen was one of my favourite lab instructors at Memorial University," said Olga Trela, a former student. "He used his experience to anticipate which things may be more difficult for us and devoted his time to help us through them. The clarity of his instruction and the atmosphere he created made the labs enjoyable, made the subject interesting and allowed me to excel in this course. The labs gave a solid practical foundation that I have used during several courses in my current international marine biology master's degree course."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

5/ Dr. Michelle Ploughman, Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine

"One of the hallmarks of a high-calibre research environment is encouraging curiosities among students," said Dr. Augustine Joshua Devasahayam, a former student. "Dr. Ploughman provided me with adequate time and space to talk about unique insights from recent findings and discuss creative solutions to difficult problems ... [and] made sure that I had the right support and encouragement every step of the way. With such world-class training, I thrived in the competitive research environment, won several grants and received awards in international conferences. I am confident to say that the training here at Memorial under the supervision of Dr. Ploughman was best-in-class and has put me on par with top-tier researchers."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

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