Creativity and innovation take time says teaching award winner Simmons

Assistant professor Nicola Simmons frequently asks herself a question often asked of students: Who cares, and what does it matter?

Simmons, from the Faculty of Education, won the Distinguished Teaching Award earlier this year and delivered a keynote address at the 12th annual Centre for Pedagogical Innovation Tribute to Teaching event Thursday, Dec. 8.

An educator who focuses on post-secondary teaching and learning, Simmons’s address — Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) as the Third Side of the Coin: Connecting Teaching and Research — was highlighted and driven by her exploration of what scholarship is and how it is applied in academic settings in conjunction with teaching and learning.

She also looked at how the various spheres of SoTL – micro, meso, macro, mega – impact and drive research forward.

“What’s the culture in your department that would allow you to use language as you move forward,” asked Simmons. “Context matters a lot; thinking about what happens through the stages matter a lot; thinking about how you can connect it beyond the institution matters.”

Simmons confessed that she asks herself that question of who cares and what does it matter?

“In some ways it’s easier to think of our teaching and research as separate and that they should stay that way, but that’s not necessarily true,” she said. “Creativity and innovation have become such keywords, but they take time and we don’t get to the deepest and best places in our work when we’re always in a hurry. We need to think about how we can integrate our work to help it feel less fragmented.”

Simmons believes the scholarship of teaching and learning can be the connective glue that brings the two sides of teaching and research together, contributing to a culture that values these beliefs and progressing our students as we communicate its benefits.

In addition to Simmons’ address, Robert McGray, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education was the recipient of the Brock University Award for Excellence in Teaching for Early Career Faculty.

Nicholas Vesprini, an instructor in Biological Sciences, was the recipient of the Don Ursino Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Large Classes.

Andrea Bishop, sessional instructor in the Faculty of Education, was the recipient of the Clarke Thomson Award for Excellence in Sessional Teaching.

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