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Passionate professoriate

Teaching and Learning Framework to provide holistic approach to educators


Dr. Evan Simpson

By Mandy Cook

Dr. Evan Simpson, Memorial’s vice-president (academic) pro tempore, says that the development of a teaching and learning framework will lead to a “passionate” professoriate.

The consultative process is currently being sponsored through Dr. Simpson’s office and is being led by Associate Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Doreen Neville, Albert Johnson and a working group.

Advisory committees have also been established to provide input on key themes including critical thinking, student-centered learning, academic support services, non-academic support services, diversity on campus and abroad, experiential learning, interdisciplinary activities, lifelong learning, program quality assurance, faculty recognition and complementarity with the research plan and community engagement activities.

“A good framework will lead over the course of perhaps five years to a professoriate with a passionate and holistic sense of educational mission,” said Dr. Simpson. “And as a fundamental element of higher education and our obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador alike, we realized that it was time for a conversation. The community is clearly ready for it.”

The energetic response to consultations that have already taken place is testimony to the desire to explore this crucial component of academic work. So far, professors and instructors have eagerly shared meaningful teaching experiences to illustrate how connecting with individual students as well as entire classes on a meaningful level can provide a deeper understanding for all.

“The great reward for teachers, then, is helping their students know the joy of discovery,” said Dr. Simpson. “Fostering such an environment can make Memorial a destination sought by students and professors alike.”

Stemming from the development of Memorial’s Research Plan, Dr. Simpson and the working group realized that teaching and learning at Memorial had not been reviewed in recent years. His office realized it was high time to come together to discover ways to reach students in new, authentic ways. He says that by comparing teaching practices, educators can appropriate new ones and adapt those practices to suit their own particular style.

As well, learning what others have found successful and how new technologies can help students learn and think better makes teaching more effective and more satisfying, Dr. Simpson said. Consultation participants are realizing that by paying careful attention to teaching methods, educators can better see how to create independent learners who have a realistic sense of their intellectual powers and their ability to change things for the better.

Dr. Simpson anticipates that once the framework is in place, the work of implementing its elements will begin. While understanding that change cannot occur “overnight,” he does expect professors and instructors to have greater access to enhanced services and support from Memorial’s Instructional Development Office, located in ED-3000. He also expects instructors to have a clear sense of how their research complements their teaching, foresees more attention devoted to teaching excellence as a criterion for appointment and promotion and the development of closer relationships between student services and academic services.

Mostly, Dr. Simpson is keen to witness a deepening of the learning relationship between student and instructor.

“I would hope to see Memorial’s educators be eagerly involved in first-year teaching and be acutely sensitive to the needs of students who are at risk of losing their way.”

Individuals are invited to respond to the discussion paper or provide any other comments they wish to make about the teaching and learning enterprise at Memorial University by emailing TeachingandLearning@mun.ca.

Consultation sessions continue until March 30. Please visit www.mun.ca/vpacademic/ for more information and a complete schedule. For any additional inquiries, contact Dr. Doreen Neville at dneville@mun.ca or Albert Johnson at albertj@mun.ca.

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