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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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March 4, 2004
 Top Stories


Top teachers heading to
international conference

By David Sorensen
Memorial will be well represented at an important and innovative gathering of university teachers next month. When the American Association of Higher Education meets in San Diego, it will bring together for the first time a group of award-winning teachers from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The American Carnegie Fellows will host a session with United Kingdom’s Teaching Fellows and Canada’s 3M Teaching Fellows. And of the dozen 3M Teaching Fellows attending the meeting, two are from Memorial: Shane O’Dea, English, and Dr. Michael Collins, acting vice-president (academic) – the highest number from any Canadian university.

“This will be an international collaboration on teaching and learning issues,” said Mr. O’Dea, “and it will likely develop a long-term level of contact that we haven’t had before.”

The issues up for discussion include the impact of high-level teaching awards on policy and change at the campus and national levels; commitment indicators: mapping the progress towards institutional commitment to teaching and learning; external reviews of teaching and the scholarship of teaching when important decisions are pending; identifying projects that would benefit most from international dialogue and effort; and strategies whereby seasoned award-winning teacher-scholars could share their legacy at the international level.

Mr. O’Dea said while the meeting is a good start, it is crucial that it leads to further collaboration among university teachers. He said there’s a real need to promote good teaching on campuses across the country. “How do we re-assert the importance of teaching in increasingly research-intensive institutions?” he said. “How should we fund and staff instructional development offices? How should we measure teaching quality?

“These are among some of the questions we might discuss in San Diego.”

3M Teaching Fellowships recognize excellence in teaching over an extended period of time, principally but not exclusively at the undergraduate level, and also acknowledges educational leadership in commitment to the improvement of university teaching within the candidate’s own institution. Mr. O’Dea received the award in 2002 and Dr. Collins was honoured in 1998 while teaching in the Department of Biology.


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Next issue: March 18, 2004

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