Teaching Conference

Teaching Conference

A day of sessions for faculty, graduate students, post docs, librarians, and staff.

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9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
SSC 2050

John Doerksen, Vice-Provost (Academic Programs)
Nanda Dimitrov, Acting Director, Teaching Support Centre


9:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
SSC 2050

Teaching with Our Signatures: Cultivating Disciplinary Habits of Mind

Dr. Nancy Chick (University of Calgary)

Just over twelve years ago, Lee Shulman introduced the idea of “signature pedagogies,” or approaches to teaching that cultivate disciplinary habits of mind. This concept challenges us to ask some pointed questions: how does the biologist, for example, teach so that her students experience thinking like a biologist and even doing biology? How does the historian teach students to practice historical thinking? How does the artist teach students to see the world through artists’ eyes? What about the other disciplines? And ultimately, why should the biologist, the historian, the artist, and the rest of us care? Dr. Chick will share how a variety of disciplines have responded to the challenge, consider some of the criticisms that have emerged, and suggest potential avenues for exploring signature pedagogies moving forward.

Nancy Chick is the University Chair in Teaching and Learning and the Academic Director of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary.  With Gary Poole, she is also the founding co-editor of Teaching & Learning Inquiry, the journal of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL).

Refreshment Break

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.



11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
SSC 2050

Quality in Research on Teaching and Learning: Evidence from the Field

Nancy Chick (University of Calgary)

How does the multidisciplinary, multinational, multivalent field of research on teaching and learning --specifically the field of the scholarship of teaching and learning--talk about issues of quality? What are the explicit and implicit markers of “good” research on teaching and learning? In this interactive session, we will explore some of the publications, rubrics, processes, and other materials that—intentionally or not—establish these standards of quality. We’ll also consider the implications on research on teaching and learning’s purposes, participants, projects, and impacts.


11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
SSC 2020

Practicing to Hear Each Other Better: Pedagogy of Presence

Cathy Benedict (Music)

One of our department goals is to help students listen and respond to others differently than they are used to doing. We do this because our philosophy of education is grounded in what it means to be a more just citizen in the world; we do this because validation resides in being seen, heard, and known. Many of our classes are framed by readings that are chosen to facilitate interrogation, uncover assumptions, and provoke discussion. In those discussions, we work towards removing statements that do not further reflection including, “I” responses, agreeing/disagreeing and ‘liking’. In this session, I will demonstrate with the participants the scaffolding of six activities I do with students (including doctoral students) that help facilitate a deeper awareness of who we are and can be by developing a pedagogy of presence.


11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
SSC 2032

Planning for and Operationalizing an Online Connection between Western University & University of Rwanda Nursing Students to Learn About Cross-Cultural Nursing Decision Making

Carole Orchard (Nursing)
Marilyn Evans, (Nursing)
Yvonne Kasine (Nursing)
Benoite Umyubyeyi (Nursing)
Sibylle Ugirase (School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Rwanda)
Evelyne Nankundwa (School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Rwanda)
Pauline Uwajeneza (Ruli Higher Institute of Health, Rwanda)
Germaine Tuyisenge (Geography, Simon Fraser University)

The Intercultural Learning: Leadership in Clinical Decision Making in Nursing course received funding through the 2016 Western University International Curriculum Competition with the goal of connecting nursing students across two countries (Canada and Rwanda) to focus on cross-cultural issues impacting application of nursing clinical decision-making at three cultural levels, (1) individual country, (2) nursing practice, and (3) within health systems. The course was designed to integrate three models/theories.  Tanners’ Model of Clinical Judgment in Nursing (Tanner, 2006); Schim, Doorenbos, Benkert and Miller’s Culturally Congruent Care Model (2007); and Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Model were used to create the structure for students’ learning.  Equal numbers of students from the same level of nursing program were placed in inter-country small groups and provided with four case studies containing interactive scripting between the patient and a nurse to provide the means for students in their small groups to reflect on their clinical decision making across the three culture levels. Online group presentations and individual reflections on cross cultural learning form a major part of their course grade. Challenges encountered and strategies used to collaboratively develop and implement this course using the Western OWL online platform will be presented.

Homework Assignments: It’s the Journey, not the Destination

Eugene Wong (Physics & Astronomy)
Ryan Hopkins (Physics & Astronomy)
Aycha Tammour (Physics & Astronomy)
Megan Tannock (Physics & Astronomy)

In science courses, we want students to develop competency in problem solving and produce reliable quantitative results. Online tools (e.g. WebAssign) are suited for science courses in particular because they can check numerical results entered by students and can be deployed for large first year classes. Over time, students are then accustomed to doing problem after problem, and getting the right answers becomes a confirmation that their concepts are correct. Focusing entirely on the answer (destination) causes many students to lose sight of what is actually important (the journey): spending time to understand the fundamentals and seeking out their own individual misconceptions.

In this initiative, we propose to focus students’ attention back onto the process of learning by using an online tool for peer review, originally designed for essay-based courses used primarily in the social science and humanities. We trade quantity of problems to quality of written solutions that includes reflections of underlying concepts. Instructions and review rubric will be presented.


12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.



1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
SSC 2036

Indigenizing Quebec and French-Canadian Literature at Brescia University College

Carmen McCarron (French Studies, Brescia University College)

At Brescia University College, we are working to decolonize and indigenize Quebec and French-Canadian Literature courses as part of a larger effort to “create an educational system that is a place of connectedness and caring, a place that honors the heritage, knowledge, and spirit of every First Nations student.” (Battiste, 67)  In consultation with Indigenous elders and scholars, content and pedagogy are being restructured in order to reflect culture and literature in a more accurate and inclusive way.

Recently published French-language Indigenous texts are being studied alongside texts by well-known French Canadian authors. Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are encouraged to appreciate Indigenous texts through traditional means of gathering knowledge, such as sharing circles and storytelling.

Qualitative data on student reactions to this initiative will be gathered and analyzed at the end of the semester, and students will be asked to contribute ideas for indigenizing future courses. The results will inform ongoing indigenization efforts within French Studies, and will be shared with colleagues who may be interested in indigenizing their own courses as part of Canada’s collective “responsibility to live up to its reputation as a compassionate and innovative nation on the way to becoming a truly just society” (Battiste, 65)

How Can You Empower Students and Boost Their Performance? Flip Your Classroom

Ana Garcia-Allen (Modern Languages and Literatures)
Adriana Soto-Corominas (Modern Languages and Literatures)

“Flipped Learning is a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter” (Flipped Learning Network, 2014). We will present the implementation of the Flipped approach in a Spanish Beginners course to empower students and increase their performance as an example that could be followed in other disciplines. Samples of students’ and instructors’ comments from an experimental study that compared the flipped classroom approach to the traditional (lecture-like) approach in 15 sections of Spanish for Beginners (with over 200 students) will also be presented. Results from our study indicate significant gains in the flipped treatment, as measured in test performance. It also shows the efficacy of the flipped classroom approach for grammar instruction in a first year language course.


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
SSC 2020

Partnering for Change: A Model of Community Engaged Public Health Education

Lloy Wylie (Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health)

An emerging pedagogy in Community Engaged Public Health at Western University is being developed and tested through linked courses in the one-year case-based cohort Master of Public Health program. Shaped by community engaged learning, a philosophy of social responsibility, and a team-based approach, the educational model offers an innovative teaching and learning environment.

In the Managing Health Services class students develop and apply skills in health care management to support effective programs and services. Using a matrix model of role play, students are trained in management strategies, inter-professional collaboration and team-based problem solving. The content is based on case material and real world issues from local and global contexts.
The Community Health Assessments and Program Evaluation (CHAPE) course covers the process of planning, implementing and evaluating programs in community health and wellness. Student teams work with community partners on priority issues, with the curriculum and student assignments tailored to community needs. Students produce evidence-informed recommendations and strategies to achieve program goals and evaluate success.

This workshop will run a matrix role play exercise with participants, and then reflect on the effectiveness of the pedagogy for developing learners’ confidence in taking on real world challenges facing community partners.


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
SSC 2032

Simulations & Case Studies: Welcome to My Education Classroom

Deanna Friesen (Education)

A key competency for a successful teacher is to examine critical dilemmas from multiple perspectives before deciding on a course of action. Simulations and Case Studies enable us to consider multiple solutions, engage in professional discussions and critically reflect on teaching practice (Hutchison, 2004). In this session, you are welcome to my 2nd year class on Academic Learning for Exceptional Students offered to teacher candidates at the Faculty of Education. Here we will simulate an experience faced by struggling writers, and from this experience identify why these difficulties may occur. We will build on this knowledge by working through a case study from the perspective of an elementary school teacher. In the ensuing debriefing, we will discuss how asking students to write their own case studies leads to their professional development. Finally, we will discuss how this approach engages students, meets the course’s learning outcomes and how these approaches may be used in your discipline.

Refreshment Break

2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.



2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
SSC 2036

Exploring Energy Controversies through Simulation and Role Play

Carol Hunsberger (Geography)

Access to energy is crucial to human wellbeing – but disputes over energy projects are among the hottest political issues today. Protests and legal challenges over pipelines, dams and wind projects suggest that many are unsatisfied with the outcomes of energy decisions and the processes through which such decisions are made. My course, Energy and Power, explores issues of justice and fairness in energy systems. Through simulation and role play activities, I challenge students to navigate energy controversies both cognitively and affectively. One activity is a role play: the Philosophers’ Cocktail Party. After reviewing various philosophers’ ideas about justice, students are given invitations to a party to be held in class – addressed to Aristotle, Rawls, etc. At the party students mingle and, in their roles, discuss questions that push them to apply theories about fair rules for society to specific dilemmas. The main learning activity in the course is a series of three simulated energy board hearings where students act as stakeholders, panelists and journalists debating and communicating real-life topics. The 2017 hearings explored the Site C dam, Energy East pipeline and Deep Geological Repository for nuclear waste. This session reflects on experiences with these learning activities.


2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
SSC 2032

Utilizing Cross-Campus Partnerships to Build Multi-modal Online Learning Modules for Supporting Undergraduate Student Skill Development

Adrienne Sauder (Learning Skills Services, King's University College)
Emma Swiatek (Research and Information Services - Library, King’s University College)
Jeremy Greenway (Writing, King’s University College)
Darcy Harris (Thanatology, King's University College)

Professors commonly see the researching and writing abilities of undergraduate students as essential skills that need improvement across almost all disciplines (Bruce, 2001). There is evidence that online opportunities for learning can be utilized as a means of addressing students’ learning gaps in information literacy, writing, and referencing (Mery, Newby, & Peng, 2012; Johnston, 2010; Stetter, 2013). This presentation explores the success of a collaborative pilot project that used an embedded online module to provide essential skills training within an undergraduate course. This module was linked to curricular expectations and was tailored to the unique needs of a particular discipline. Data analysis revealed general areas of struggle for students and showcased areas of improvement for students after completing the training. The findings from this study will be of benefit to a range of stakeholders, including faculty, curriculum developers, and student success professionals. Implications of these findings will be presented/discussed.


2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
SSC 2020

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Team-Based Learning

Shannon Sibbald (Health Studies; Family Medicine; Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health)
Ava John-Baptiste (Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Anesthesia & Perioperative Medicine; Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health; Centre for Medical Evidence, Decision Integrity & Clinical Impact (MEDICI))

Team-based Learning (TBL) is a flipped, student-centered practice, designed to enhance collaborative learning and student engagement. TBL has been shown to produce high-performing, self-managed teams that demonstrate many of the attributes of successful teams, namely commitment to team processes and success, interdependence, open communication, positive feedback, and accountability. Our public health master’s program integrates TBL with case-based learning and competency-focused curriculum. Through the use of TBL, we emphasizes the principles of collegiality to promote critical thought and a multidirectional exchange of ideas. Several challenges exist with TBL: (1) social loafing (team members fail to fulfill their responsibilities, yet benefit from the effort of their peers) and (2) authentic methods of evaluation. While several evaluative tools exist, there is no perfect formula. We have developed a blended model that allows assessment of the outcome (i.e. term paper or final report), and the process (i.e. how the paper or report was created). We believe evaluating process and outcome provides a more well-rounded picture of performance and helps deal with the challenges inherent in TBL. Our approach is designed to encourage approximately equal contribution to teamwork within teams and to discourage social loafing. We will describe our approach along with the evaluation strategy.

Refreshments will be available at 8:45 a.m. and during the morning and afternoon breaks.

Please note that some of the sessions will be video-recorded and made available on the TSC website.