Wide range of research funded through 2019 Chancellor’s Chairs awards

Over the next three years, recipients of the 2019 Chancellor’s Chairs for Teaching Excellence awards will contribute to enriching the Brock student experience while having an impact on best teaching and learning practices to benefit educators in diverse fields.

Assistant Professor Robyn Bourgeois (Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies), Associate Professor Keri Cronin (Visual Arts) and Associate Professor Chris Fullerton (Geography and Tourism Studies) will receive $5,000 a year for three years to pursue innovative projects that include research into creating new Indigenous-centred curriculum and pedagogy, the effectiveness of current Art History coursework and the impact of experiential education in Geography and Tourism Studies.

The Chancellor’s Chairs program was established by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) in 2005 and is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and Vice-President, Academic. The 2019 appointments took effect July 1.

Chairs present project updates and findings annually at the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning event, typically held in March.

CPI Director Jill Grose says there is so much for students and faculty to gain from supporting evidence-based research into teaching practices.

“These are very dynamic projects that get to the heart of supporting the success of Brock students,” she says. “They focus on meaningful teaching in many contexts, from acquiring knowledge through the design of innovative pedagogy to ensuring that experiential learning at Brock provides students with highly effective opportunities to build skills. On another scale, the projects also stand out for being rigorous in their examination of current pedagogical practices and how we might be more open to new ideas and insights.”

Projects funded through the 2019 Chancellor’s Chairs for Teaching Excellence awards include:

Robyn Bourgeois — Indigenizing Women’s and Gender Studies: Developing Indigenous-centred Curriculum and Pedagogy at Brock University 

In a first for Brock, Bourgeois will develop, implement and evaluate a Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) course organized around Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. Focusing on the interests and needs of Indigenous students and their communities, she will consult widely with Indigenous communities, from Brock, with a particular focus on students, and urban Niagara, to surrounding areas including Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of New Credit. 

“This project is driven by a single research question: what would an Indigenous-designed course examining Indigenous understandings of gender, sex and sexuality look like at Brock University?” Bourgeois says. “While Indigenous feminist and gender studies courses are now commonplace in Women’s and Gender Studies departments across Canada, there doesn’t appear to be a single case study examining what decolonizing curriculum development and pedagogical delivery might look like within the field of WGST.” 

The research will contribute a unique set of practice-based insights to the broader national and international fields of WGST and potentially inform practices in other disciplines.

The project is clearly aligned with the Brock University Institutional Strategic Plan 2018-2025: Niagara Roots – Global Reach as it addresses two of the University’s core commitments: decolonization and experiential education.

Keri Cronin — Teaching and Learning Art History in a (Primarily) Studio Department: Experiences and Expectations

Cronin’s research goal is to learn more about how studio students at Brock are thinking about and learning from History of Art and Visual Culture (HAVC) courses. At the same time, she is focused on the experiences of faculty members who teach HAVC classes.

“In my own experience of teaching HAVC courses, I have repeatedly experienced initial resistance to my ‘required’ classes, as they are perceived to take students away from time they could be spending in their studios,” Cronin says. “I work hard to overcome this sense of resistance through pedagogical approaches that, whenever possible, move away from traditional and expected forms of teaching HAVC.”

Cronin will hold focus groups with current Brock Visual Arts students and she will interview colleagues across Canada to pursue answers to key questions such as: How can these findings help us rethink and shape course content and curriculum? How can we support HAVC instructors who are tasked with delivering these courses in an environment in which this type of inquiry does not tend to be as privileged as the creative practices that take place in the studio environments?

She intends to publish her findings and recommendations in Art History Pedagogy and Practice, an open access journal.

Chris Fullerton — Stakeholder Perspectives on the Benefits and Challenges of Experiential Education in Geography and Tourism Studies

Fullerton takes a deep look into the Geography and Tourism Studies experiential learning opportunities and outcomes.

“Up to now, there has been little research into the question of how experiential education opportunities in Geography and Tourism Studies programs are best structured and delivered, as well as the types of benefits that accrue to different groups involved within the experiential teaching and learning process,” he says.

He’ll carry out surveys and interviews with current students, recent alumni, faculty members and community partners to investigate how to maximize experiential learning opportunities for students and community partners. 

By sharing the results of this research across the department, the University and with academic colleagues elsewhere, Fullerton hopes the project will contribute broadly to future experiential educational practices. 

Read more about the 2019 Chancellor’s Chairs for Teaching Excellence projects on the CPI website.

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