As Trent students, we all know that our university boasts some exceptional faculty and staff. Whether you are an English major routinely seeking help from the librarians at Bata library, a nursing student being trained up in the DNA building, or a chemistry minor investigating in the labs, you have no doubt felt the positive influence of Trent University’s dedicated team of professors and staff.
To honour the success of these individuals, there are a number of teaching awards available at Trent. These awards include:
Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching
This award recognizes faculty and staff who: stand out from others in encouraging learning, bring unique experiences to the teaching space, challenge students to do their best work, serve as inspiration for students, and demonstrate exemplary concern for students.
Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation
This award recognizes faculty and staff who make a distinctive impact on their department through their leadership, teaching, and successful communication.
Excellence in Teaching Assistance Award
This award recognizes staff and student teaching assistants who excel at encouraging learning in workshop, tutorial, seminar, laboratory or field settings.
CUPE Award for Excellence in Part-time Teaching
This award recognizes contract instructors who have a strong, positive impact on students’ learning.
In 2008, English literature professor Dr. Elizabeth Popham won the Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award. When describing her reaction to receiving the award, Popham admitted, “I was overwhelmed, and extremely grateful to the people who went to the trouble of nominating me. I teach Medieval and Renaissance literature, and so I am very aware that there are going to be difficulties with the language and cultural differences. I spend a lot of time trying to think of ways to engage my students, and the LIFT award was explicitly for innovation. It was wonderful to feel that my students had enjoyed the experience of working with me.”
As Popham illustrated, “It is important to recognize good teaching. In so many universities, research is valued above all else and teaching is considered secondary, or even incidental to the main “work” of the institution.”
As a professor, Popham has gained a reputation for addressing the learning needs of each individual in her class.
“Whatever the level, I try to design my courses to stimulate dialogue and independent investigation. I hope my students are aware that they are entering a lively ongoing discussion of the material. I hope they have fun in the process. My role is to be a coach and guide.”
Similarly, anthropology professor John Purcell has been nominated in the past for the CUPE Award for Excellence in Part-time Teaching. He has taught students attending Trent University since 2006, at both the Oshawa and Peterborough campus. Purcell currently teaches biological anthropology, primate behavior, and medical anthropology.
“These teaching awards are a great opportunity for us to share enthusiasm for teaching,” Purcell said during a phone interview. “My whole approach is based on energy and enthusiasm, and that rubs off on the students. They take it on their own time to nominate, because they want to. This reflects the enthusiasm of getting an education at Trent.”
When Arthur asked Lady Eaton students what qualities they thought contributed to a great professor, the response was varied.
“When you can see the passion they have for the subject they teach in – this shines through to students and actually engages us,” said Jessica Vuong.
Anastasia Kaschenko mentioned that it is important for professors to “interact with students.”
David Greaves, a math student in Concurrent Education, noted that he likes “the professors who take time to make sure you understand the theory behind what’s being taught so that you can apply things to many topics. Professors that come to mind in this respect are Prof. Bing Zhou and Prof. David Poole.”
The student population was then asked who they would consider nominating. Nadia Bowser exclaimed, “Brenda Smith-Chant! She has a great teaching method; she’s extremely helpful, very clear and concise. Not to mention her awesome shoes.”
The deadline to nominate a faculty or staff member for the Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation is November 15th. Nomination forms and information can be found on the Trent website.