Highlights from STLHE 2015

SoTL CTSIFrom June 16-19, many U of T faculty and staff, including members of the CTSI team, participated in #STLHE2015. The Society for Teaching & Learning in Higher Education’s annual conference – this year’s theme was “Achieving Harmony: Tuning into Practice” – was co-hosted by the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University. There were two keynote presenters:

  • Dr Marsha Lovett, Carnegie Mellon, Applying Principles of Learning to Teaching – With or Without Technology¬†
  • Dr. Dee Fink, 5 High Impact Teaching Practices

Dr. Marsha Lovett, Director, Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence and Educational Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University

A highlight to the event is the presentation of 3M Teaching & Student Fellowships. This year, Steve Joordens, Psychology, UTSC, was awarded a Teaching Fellowship and two students – Karen Young, Psychology and Health Studies, UTSC, and Wali Shah, Sociology – won Student Fellowships.

“All of us from the University of Toronto felt a tremendous sense of pride when Professor Steve Joordens, Psychology Department, was presented with one of 10 3M National Teaching Fellow awards, and two U of T students received 3M National Student Fellowships: Karen Young, 3rd Year Psychology and Health Studies, U of T Scarborough and Wali Shah, 2nd year BA Sociology, U of T Mississauga. These awards honour the important contributions to teaching, learning and leadership that these award recipients have made.”
Carol Rolheiser, Director, CTSI, and Professor, Curriculum, Teaching & Learning (OISE)

3M Fellowship Recipients

Steve Joordens, Psychology, UTSC, and Karen Young, Psychology and Health Studies, UTSC

For Erin Macnab, CTSI, Programs Coordinator, this was her first opportunity to attend a faculty and educational developers conference of this size and scale:

“Attending STLHE for the first time was an eye-opening experience. It was so valuable to me to see the range of work being done across Canada in teaching and learning. I’ve come away from the conference with a huge number of ideas for programming and resources for CTSI. It was wonderful to also see the hard work of our 3M Student and National Teaching Fellows recognized – a great acknowledgement of the incredible work being done here at U of T!”
Erin Macnab, Programs Coordinator, CTSI

STLHE 2015

Steve Joordens, Psychology, UTSC, and Carol Rolheiser, Director, CTSI

Over the next few weeks we will continue to share photos and insights on the STLHE conference. Please check back in for more information and/or share your stories if you attended.

Working with CTSI: from Work Study to Videographer

By Wes Adams, Videographer, CTSI

It’s been almost a year now since I started working at CTSI. I began this position a little under a year ago as work-study student with the role of video editor and assistant to the department’s talented Communications Coordinator, Kathleen Olmstead. Other than the exciting prospect of getting some hands-on experience in video production and editing and satisfying the lack of practical applications in my cinema studies program, I really had little idea what CTSI was. As a student of film (double major in cinema studies and political science), especially in a strictly theory-based program, I could not wait to sink my teeth into a project that involved actually planning and creating a visual work as cinema and filmmaking have been passions of mine from a very early age. Over the nine months, my duty in this role has evolved into much more than that, especially in terms of my understanding and appreciation for what CTSI does.

Having had experience as a production assistant, as well as filming and editing projects such as PSAs, promotional videos, and personal short films, I felt that this position would allow me to grow in terms of technical skill. On top of the technical experience I’ve gained, I also feel that the experience of collaborating on projects related to pedagogical practices and research has really opened my eyes to what goes on behind the scenes at the university. The amount of research and effort that goes into improving teaching practices within U of T is something that a small amount of undergrads get to experience or even comprehend. The benefit for a student to experience this backstage view is that it takes the impersonal aspects of an undergrad degree, at such a large institution as U of T, and makes tangible the intangible aspects of how courses are designed and why professors and TAs teach the way they do.

In a similar sense, my role of creating video content that highlights the behind-the-scenes aspects of teaching and learning at U of T makes this hidden process of teaching research and course design accessible to undergrads and faculty alike, which creates a more inclusive atmosphere. Apart from the valuable experience I’ve had applying both my passion for and knowledge in film and capabilities in editing, I’ve also gained a greater appreciation for the education I’m receiving.

What I find most appealing about this position is the ability to creatively fuse a practical medium I have great passion for with an academic field. It is the capability to use an artistic yet accessible medium in order to convey what is typically an inaccessible academic area. Of the many videos I’ve collaborated on with CTSI’s Communications Coordinator I have and continue to enjoy working on the TATP Shorts series, which are short videos featuring a TA elaborating on a teaching strategy, or ‘tip’, that they use in their classroom presented in a colourful, fast-paced, and quick-cutting format. I find that these videos have not only enlightened me in terms of the different pedagogical practices that can be implemented to improve learning, but also have allowed me to improve my own skills as a videographer in terms of attempting to create a work that intellectually stimulates, entertains, and informs. What I like most about this series is that it has given me an opportunity to be more creative in terms of stylistic features and structure while still adhering to coherent, formal features to articulately present the information. I thoroughly enjoy the freedom of creativity, but the necessity for concise and comprehensive information delivery creates a fun challenge.

These past nine months working at CTSI I feel has truly helped me develop stronger critical, academic, and, importantly, technical skills. Importantly, over these past nine months I have developed a greater sense of community at U of T, which appeared in my first year of study to be a somewhat daunting institution. I excitedly look forward to collaborating on future projects and can’t wait to continue to engage in more critical, artistic and creative endeavours with CTSI.