Undergraduate teaching award winners see 'bigger picture'

(Edmonton) When it comes to selecting winners for the University of Alberta’s annual Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, it’s not easy choosing the best of the best, says Elisabeth Le, chair of the University Teaching Awards Committee.

“To figure in that very select group, it is not sufficient to just receive top evaluations from one's students year after year,” said Le. “A lot more is required for a U of A teaching award.”

Le notes that the winners repeatedly demonstrate a number of attributes that made them worthy of this year’s awards. Participating in teaching improvement initiatives and a willingness to take risks, becoming involved in curriculum development and helping students to develop into critically-thinking, socially engaged citizens, are some of these key criteria in being chosen for the award.

The awards, whose recipients were announced last week, recognize excellence in undergraduate academic staff teaching in four categories: continuing academic staff, academic staff (lecturers and sessional instructors), early career( first five years) and a collaborative/ teaching unit awards (two or more instructors).

“These qualities demonstrate that awardees pay attention to the ‘bigger picture’ and make sure that their students do so as well,” said Le. “This year, this is particularly evident with the recipients of the teaching unit award.”

The group who were the recipients of this year’s teaching unit award winner consists of Lili Liu, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy; the Department of Industrial Design’s Robert Lederer and Greig Rasmussen; Cheryl Sadowski and Lisa Guirguis, from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and the Department of Computing Science’s Eleni Stroulia and Ioanis Nikolaidis.

“Thanks to this teaching unit, students specializing in very different disciplines have experienced how the respect of others and value of their work benefits all by resulting in a better quality service or product,” said Le.

The remaining 2011 Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching award winners are:

Rutherford Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching:

   Kim Fordham, Augustana Campus
   Lise Gotell, Women’s Studies Program, Faculty of Arts 
   Suzanne Kresta, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering,      Faculty of Engineering 
   Mitchell McInnes, Faculty of Law 
   Janet Scott Hoyt, Department of Music, Faculty of Arts 
   Nesé Yuksel, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

William Hardy Alexander Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching 
   Anne Boerger, Campus Saint-Jean 
   Lisa Prichard, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science

Provost’s Awards for Early Achievement of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching 
   Dan Barreda, Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (Joint Appointment with the Faculty of Science) 
   John Nychka, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.