Eight faculty honoured for teaching excellence

Eight exceptional faculty members have been awarded Western’s highest honours for leading and inspiring their students. Collectively and individually, they exemplify the heart of excellence in teaching – and their influence has stretched across faculties, disciplines and decades.

Established in 1980-81, the University Awards for Excellence in Teaching were later named in honour of Edward Gustav Pleva, Western’s first Geography teacher (1938) and Head of the department (1948-68).

Established in 1989-90, the Award for Excellence in Teaching by Part-Time Faculty were later named in honour of Angela Mary Armitt, BA’36, MA’67, LLD’87, a champion of lifelong learning, and Western’s first Dean of the Faculty of Part-Time and Continuing Education.

Established in 1996-97, the Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented for outstanding contributions in the area of classroom, laboratory or clinical instruction. The award was later named after Physiology professor and Educational Development Office coordinator Marilyn Robinson, who prized the idea of students’ active learning and problem-solving.

Faculty members were also recognized with the Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) Award for Excellence in Collaborative Teaching and the Vice-Provost (Academic Programs) Award for Excellence in Online Teaching and Learning.

Recipients of the 2020 awards for teaching in excellence are:

Randal Graham
Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching

Randal Graham has received teaching evaluations, during the past two decades, that are among Western Law’s finest – an achievement all the more remarkable because the feedback comes from having taught only large enrolment-mandatory and large enrolment-optional courses.

A winner of several previous awards from peers and students, Graham is known as a mentor who cares deeply about his students’ development and well-being. In the words of one former student, now a lawyer, “(without Randal’s) teaching and guidance in matters scholastic, professional, and personal, I would not be the person I am today.”

Graham is also one of Canada’s leading creators of legal education materials. He is the sole author of published materials in statutory interpretation and legal ethics, which are used to teach courses at law schools across Canada.

Robert Cockcroft
Physics & Astronomy
Marilyn Robinson Award for Excellence in Teaching

Robert Cockcroft believes the world needs more and better science education and literacy. A professor of Physics and Astronomy and in Western’s Integrated Science Program, he communicates with students and the public in ways that bring local and global change. Peers describe him as a generous colleague who embraces team-teaching and helps everyone make connections across different and inter-related disciplines.

Integral to Cockcroft’s approach is a vision of social justice that moves his students to work with local partners in the London community, addressing pressing needs through the lens of science. He has co-created and co-teaches an Indigenous astronomy course with a number of Indigenous student and faculty colleagues. In this work, he collaborates with local Indigenous elders, community members and students to share local Indigenous astronomy stories with Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences.

Fabiana Crowley
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Physiology and Pharmacology
Marilyn Robinson Award for Excellence in Teaching

To Fabiana Crowley, the classroom is not just a place to share and acquire information – it’s a place where students should be challenged to think critically about what they’ve learned and apply that information to clinical cases and the real world. Crowley’s expertise covers a wide range of course teaching: from undergraduate Science, Medical Science and Kinesiology to graduate students, Doctor of Dental Surgery and Doctor of Medicine students.

Her work doesn’t start or end in the classroom. She has played a leadership role in designing and developing the new competency-based medical curriculum for first-year Medical students. She also co-chairs the committee responsible for teaching in the first two years of the new medical curriculum, one of the many leadership roles that have won her awards and recognition from the Canadian Association for Medical Education and The Association for Medical Education.

Kimberley Jackson
Health Sciences
Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing
Marilyn Robinson Award for Excellence in Teaching

Kimberley Jackson is an expert in the field of maternal-child health, a leader in curriculum development and advancement and a sought-after resource to other faculty members.

Jackson has received numerous recognitions of Excellence in Teaching at the faculty level and has received top undergraduate course evaluations, including several perfect scores in courses with more than 70 students. She is described by her students as someone who treats “every class and every professor-student interaction as an opportunity to develop (and) inspire.”

She strives to provide nursing students with research and growth opportunities. In addition, she is committed to creating a safe space for discussing and learning about difficult and controversial health care topics, and she fosters an environment of mutual respect and free of judgment.

Lauren Barr
Social Science
Angela Armitt Award for Excellence in Teaching by Part-Time Faculty

Lauren Barr’s teaching philosophy extends beyond the classroom, beyond research labs and into the world. She wants her students “to be committed to find solutions where there are none, to see struggle as opportunity, to see the power in collaboration.” This philosophy is perhaps best exemplified by Barr’s community-engaged learning project in her Sociology of Deviance course. The project gives students an opportunity to connect with organizations and the individuals they serve. During the past five years, she has helped more than 200 undergraduate students in community-engaged learning with 35 different organizations.

Barr is a creative instructor, willing to try new techniques to teach and engage students more effectively. Colleagues note her ability to motivate students in large, first-year enrolment classes by incorporating active learning, music and social media into her instruction. She also shares her innovations with others through her involvement in the Centre for Teaching and Learning and her presentations to colleagues in the Sociology department.

Christine Bell
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Physiology and Pharmacology
Angela Armitt Award for Excellence in Teaching by Part-Time Faculty

Christine Bell has been a leader and innovator in developing accessible, dynamic online education for students since she started at Western in 2014 in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Her colleagues describe her as demonstrating “superb forward thinking” in curriculum planning and course design and as a “caring and supportive teacher” for students at all levels. She is dedicated especially to making online education an excellent learning environment for students with accessibility issues of all types.

Students regularly cite Bell as a primary reason they have developed critical-thinking and collaborative skills in the field. Her engagement does not end in the classroom; she is also an active community leader in mentoring and advocacy for high-quality accessible education.

Susan Scollie
Health Sciences
Communication Sciences & Disorders
Western Award for Innovations in Technology-Enhanced Teaching

Susan Scollie, Director of the National Centre for Audiology, has a strong track record of effective teaching in technology-focused areas including hearing aid fitting and evaluation, pediatric hearing assessment and calibration requirements. She served as the curriculum manager for Audiology in the School of Communications Sciences and Disorders from 2012-18, spanning the onset of a new curriculum through a doubling of enrolment so that, now, the school is North America’s largest professional training program in audiology.

She is internationally recognized for her research and teaching leadership in hearing science and pediatric amplification/audiology, and has received university and national professional awards for teaching and mentorship. As one referee noted, “she is a mentor’s mentor in that leading scholars and clinicians use her award-winning, peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in their own courses and clinical practice.”

Among her recent achievements was guiding the design and fabrication of a simulated patient head (Canadian Audiology simulator for Research and Learning – or CARL), which adds new dimension to students’ hands-on, experiential learning and practice in audiology training programs.

Dianne Bryant
Health Sciences
Physical Therapy
Award for Excellence in Online Teaching and Learning

Dianne Bryant is an educational leader in online and blended teaching in the Faculty of Health Sciences. At the core of her teaching practice is a deep commitment to student engagement through eLearning. Bryant uses an impressive array of technologies, including Articulate Storyline, GoAnimate (now Vyond), Zoom, Notability, and OWL, to deliver core content through online modules in ways that empower students to control the pace of their learning.

Her courses include learning activities that enhance students’ opportunities to interact with peers and the instructor to apply course and practise critical thinking skills. Colleagues in the faculty note she uses technology to address accessibility and universal design, with evident thought given to diverse student needs and engagement.