Distinguished Teaching Award

The Brock University Award for Distinguished Teaching is presented annually to a faculty member who, in the opinion of his or her peers, has made an outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning environment at Brock University.

Please review the criteria and guidelines for this award below.

Application Guidelines

Note: Any review of past nomination packages must take into account that criteria and guidelines that have changed as of March 2021. 

The criteria and guidelines for this award are based on those established for the 3M National Teaching Fellowship Award.

Nominees are expected to demonstrate excellence in three equally weighted categories: 

  1. Educational Leadership:

Educational leadership involves leading significant transformation in teaching and learning at an institutional, disciplinary, community, and/or societal level. Educational leadership fosters and supports change, and leads to a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse post-secondary education landscape. 

  1. Teaching Excellence:

Teaching excellence refers to the intentional actions of an instructor to create an exceptional learning environment through engaging in pedagogical practices designed to maximize student learning. Excellent teachers engage in inclusive practices, scholarly teaching and ongoing reflection of their own teaching practice. 

  1. Educational Innovation:

Educational innovation is the novel execution of ideas that contribute to more effective teaching and learning practices. The result of educational innovation impacts people in academia and beyond to reach mutual goals. 

The adjudication committee tends to look for those that demonstrate impact on students and institutions, those that tell a story, that “jump off the page.” What impresses is depth and harmony in the dossier, not simply a long list of activities.

All faculty members of Brock University are eligible to apply, however current members of the Senate Teaching and Learning Policy Committee who are nominated will be excused from any deliberations related to the award.

A faculty member is only eligible for one award every ten (10) years.

Each candidate must submit a digital application package to the teaching award online repository by May 30 annually to be considered for this award.

Questions? Contact Center for Pedagogical Innovation at cpi@brocku.ca.

Every reviewer in the Adjudication Committee appreciates the time and energy you devote to completing a nomination dossier. Please accept what follows as guidance to improve your nomination. 


Well-organized dossiers help the reviewer find key pieces of evidence quickly. Please follow the recommended format and structure outlined in this Call for Nominations. 

A dossier prepared for some other purpose (e.g. tenure, promotion, another teaching award) should be significantly revised to fit the structure, criteria, and documentation required for the Distinguished Teaching Award and 3M National Teaching Fellowship. 

Supporting letters should be recent (ideally dated within the last 18 months). In the letters, please address specifically the criteria for this Award. Address letters to the Distinguished Teaching Adjudication Committee. 

Do not include a full CV. 

Keep the dossier succinct—there is a 35-page limit. Mere lists are unhelpful in making a compelling case. Mentions of workshops, addresses, and articles can be persuasive if supported by commentary on their impact. 

Please remember, only material contained in the dossier is considered in the Committee’s assessment. 

As nominator and nominee, be optimistic as you prepare your dossier, but remember, several recipients each year will have been nominated at least once before. Each unsuccessful nominations for a Distinguished Teaching Award will receive feedback, both general and specific, that may enrich the reflective process of resubmission and the resulting dossier. 

Please ensure all material—course materials, student comments, letters of support—is clearly dated. 


Consultations for dossier support are available through the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation, by contacting cpi@brocku.ca. 



  1. The dossier must not exceed 35 pages.
  • Cover pages, divider pages, the nomination brief, and the appendix are not included in this count. 
  • As nominees must demonstrate excellence in the three categories of: educational leadership; teaching excellence; and educational innovation, it is expected that page length will be approximately equal between these sections. 
  • The Adjudication Committee will consider online links. However, each hyperlink will count for 2 pages in the nomination package. Nomination packages exceeding 35 pages will not be sent to reviewers. 
  • Dossier sections are considered mandatory for a complete nomination unless otherwise indicated below.   
  1. Use a standard 12-point font with one-inch margins.
  2. Each page must be numbered.
  3. The file must be a searchable PDF. Do not scan the documents.
  4. Opinions about a candidate’s excellence are most credible if expressed by others. Clearly identify the authors or preparers of each of the dossier’s following subdivisions: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 9, 10, 11.


1.0 COVER PAGE AND TABLE OF CONTENTS  Not mandatory, but certainly appreciated. 


Note: All of section 2 ismandatory and does not count for the 35 page maximum. 


Please include all requested contact information. Someone from the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation or Chair of the Adjudication Committee, may want to reach you urgently. Please include your phone number and email addressAnd please do not hesitate to include alternate email and phone contacts. Please note: successful nominees will be contacted by phone and/or email. 


Please include full name, position,email and phone. 




Additional institution contact information is NOT required for the Distinguished Teaching Award, only 3M National Teaching Fellowship submissions.


The recipient will be recognized at both Fall convocation and the Tribute to Teaching and are expected to attend both events.



Good nominations begin with a comprehensive letter carefully encapsulating the whole dossier – similar to an Executive Summary. The letter tells the reviewers what to look for and where to find it. The nomination letter will be written by someone working closely with the nominee and who is familiar with the entire dossier. Bringing forward the reader’s first impressions of the nominee, the nomination letter is one of the most important documents in a successful dossier. The most compelling letter will evoke a vivid, three-dimensional sense of the nominee.


An authentic letter of endorsement from the Dean of the nominee’s faculty should show the extent to which the institution values the nominee. An authentic letter says something meaningful about the nominee; it communicates a sense of how the institution benefits from the nominee’s distinctive contributions. 

4.0 PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP (Only 3M National Teaching Fellowship submissions must be signed and dated) 

The nominee writes the Philosophy of Educational Leadership, giving a personal account of leadership. A helpful resource for crafting this statement can be found here.Please limit the Educational Leadership Statement to maximum two pages. 

As the Committee’s first opportunity to hear the nominee’s own voice, the reflective Philosophy of Educational Leadership is a crucial part of the nomination. An effective philosophy statement is personal and genuine. It distinguishes the nominee’s approaches to educational leadership. It provides a conceptual framework that explains the values, principles, and goals that underpin the nominee’s decisions and actions. It helps readers connect with the evidence provided elsewhere in the dossier. 

The Philosophy of Educational Leadership should not be the same as the Teaching Philosophy Statement (6.0). Include evidence for Educational leadership in the next section of the dossier (5.0), not in the philosophy statement. 

Past leadership statements have introduced teachers who changed institutional cultures with the persistent force of their ideas and passion. They persuade departments to revise their courses and programs, and the new courses and programs appear effervescent, even to an outsider. They create and offer professional development to colleagues in their home organizations and across the country because they want to share fresh ideas. They may present and publish on teaching and learning. They mentor colleagues who become better teachers. 


In this section, please include factual evidence to support the narrative in section 4.0. Highlight specific projects, recognition, assessments of impact, and other supporting documentation here. It is important to provide evidence of educational leadership at the Institutional or national higher education leadership demonstrating lived commitment to improving higher education and society. A long list of workshops presented or a list of committees the individual has served on will not be as convincing as summarized evidence to support the key points presented in the Leadership Statement. Please note that the committee is looking for the impact over time the nominee’s leadership has had on higher education in particular: clear evidence of this impact is essential. Nominees are encouraged to document the impact of their educational leadership at the departmental, faculty, institutional, national, or disciplinary level. 

Also, please keep in mind the significance of the nominee’s role. At its most persuasive, educational leadership goes beyond the nominee’s assigned duties, transcending the confines of the home institution and even the discipline or program. It makes a difference through deep and significant change. Serving on committees and attending teaching workshops will provide only modest support for a case. But creating campus or national initiatives or inspiring changes internationally can be persuasive. Explain why something is important, why and how it makes a difference, and what the nominee did to make that difference. 

An individual nominated for this fellowship will, in part, have provided leadership among faculty colleagues in developing structures and processes and in pursuing activities that help create an institutional environment which fosters and supports teaching excellence. What constitutes educational leadership will vary from institution to institution but regardless of what evidence you provide please be sure to indicate the impact your work has had on others. For example, the nominee might have 

  • participated in organizing the institution’s continuing efforts to improve the quality of instruction it offers to its learners, 
  • assisted colleagues, either formally or informally, in efforts to improve their teaching, for example through mentorship or peer consultation, 
  • provided guidance to new faculty members and other colleagues, 
  • organized or participated actively in workshops, symposia, or conferences on college or university instruction, 
  • contributed to the scholarship of teaching and learning 
  • been involved in collaborative efforts to develop innovative methods of teaching, 
  • been actively involved in curriculum development or program renewal, 
  • developed curricula or learning programs (such as co-op learning, service learning, or internships) that benefit the entire campus, 
  • implemented institutional change as a result of leader’s efforts 
  • Had a measurable amount of impact on mentors 
  • participated in knowledge translation 
  • measured change under individual’s leadership 
  • measured staff/student turnover 
  • contributed actively to institutional committees whose work has created or influenced institutional policies related to teaching, learning, or assessment, written or substantially contributed to the development of institutional policies to enhance teaching or learning, such as teaching evaluation, academic advising, academic integrity, etc., or 
  • served in leadership roles on regional, national, or international organizations dedicated to teaching 
  • helped improve learning outcomes or access to education for under-represented groups such as First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, Indigenous peoples of North America, racialized persons, persons with disabilities, and those who identify as women and/or 2SLGBTQI.

Focus in this section on leadership in improving teaching and learning beyond the nominee’s own classroom. This is not the place for descriptions of excellence in teaching or working with students, nor for academic leadership in projects or committees focused on issues other than teaching and learning. 

Teaching excellence, educational leadership and educational innovation are typically aligned. Nonetheless, evidence for educational leadership must be distinct from evidence for teaching excellence and evidence of innovation.

6.0 TEACHING PHILOSOPHY STATEMENT (Only 3M National Teaching Fellowship submissions must be signed and dated)

The reflective Teaching Philosophy Statement, like the Philosophy of Educational Leadership, is a crucial part of the nomination. An effective philosophy statement is personal and genuine. It distinguishes the nominee’s approaches to learning and teaching. It provides a conceptual framework that explains the values, principles, and goals that underpin the nominee’s teaching decisions and actions. It helps readers connect with the evidence provided elsewhere in the dossier. 

There are many examples and guides to preparing a Teaching Philosophy Statement. Please limit the Teaching Philosophy Statement to maximum two pages. 

Claims made in the philosophy statement should be substantiated in other parts of the dossier. 


This is an important section to set the context for your work as a teacher. Explain briefly your normal teaching responsibilities: for example, you might tell us the normal teaching assignment in your unit and for your type of contract, relevant details about the student profile in your classes, whether your courses are required or elective, or anything that is unique to your context. If you have an administrative position, clarify the course release (if any) that goes with that responsibility. Include a statement of the normal number of courses taught by faculty in the candidate’s department. 

Since your readers will probably not be from your discipline, give any context that will help them understand how much, what, and when you teach. 



Begin with a paragraph listing all teaching awards for which the nominee is eligible. Include brief information about the awards, their criteria, and their selection processes. 


List the nominee’s teaching awards. Other useful information includes the number of faculty members eligible for the award and the number of such awards granted in any given year. Please note that receiving a previous teaching award is not a requirement for receiving this award.  

8.3 EFFECTIVE TEACHING STRATEGIES (Only 3M National Teaching Fellowship submissions must be signed and dated)

The nominee writes this section. It is often presented as a narrative. Two or three samples of effective strategies can be clear windows into the nominee’s teaching. Please focus on those things that are extraordinary, not just good practice. The nominee should tell a story of what was done, provide the rationale behind the strategies, offer evidence for their effectiveness, and describe the learning outcomes. The story might describe an original assignment, a series of lab experiments, exceptional fieldwork, innovative lecturing, and so on. This section should help the Committee understand how the nominee’s teaching philosophy is enacted. 


Evidence for teaching excellence should come from several sources such as, student evaluations of teaching, peer review of teaching, course development efforts, or course materials. Many teachers demonstrate excellence and commitment in unconventional, unprecedented, radical, unheralded, or novel ways. For instance, pre-post learning tests to demonstrate knowledge gains, producing scholarship, demonstrated use of evidence-based approaches to pedagogy or success in student learning outcomes. It is up to the nominee to decide what evidence to put forward in this section. Some suggestions are provided in the rest of this section. 

Student evaluation of teaching 

Student evaluations of teaching is one piece of evidence that can be used. If the nominee chooses to do so, please include data from the last five years. A typed list of all student comments from two or three classes (prepared at arm’s length from the nominee) is to be included in the appendix. 

Provide a table showing course titles, course level, dates, class sizes, number of completed evaluations, mean ratings for the global question for each course and other pertinent information, covering courses taught within the past five years. Note: this table should be compiled by year. 

Because of the huge diversity in the ways Canadian post-secondary institutions conduct teaching evaluations, the Adjudication Committee members are very appreciative of anything you can do to help them interpret your nominee’s formal student ratings. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Explain how student ratings are normally conducted. 
  • Exclude uninterpreted raw data. 
  • Identify the person(s) who summarized the data and how the summary was prepared: this person cannot be the nominee. 
  • Usually, dossiers should not rely entirely on feedback from classes with fewer than ten students because such small samples tend to be less reliable and persuasive than data from larger classes. That said, the Adjudication Committee recognizes that small class sizes are the norm in some disciplines, such as clinical teaching, art, music, or drama. If such feedback predominates in the dossier, please explain how the numerical data and comments were collected and how they are significant. 
  • Help your nominee by accounting for irregularities in the data (low ratings that result from significant changes to a course, gaps in ratings that are due to a leave of absence or special assignment or reduced teaching responsibilities, change in the rating form, etc.). 
  • In the absence of a global question (one that asks students to express an overall judgment about the instructor as a teacher), you might calculate a mean if possible for all available questions. Please explain what you are substituting for the global question and why. 
  • If student evaluations are included in the dossier, we ask that complete sets of comments from two or three classes be included in the dossier, but please put them in the appendix. 

Peer review of teaching 

The Adjudication Committee appreciates peer reviews of the nominee’s teaching. The value of such evidence increases with details and specifics—anecdotes, examples, descriptions, stories, and observations. If peer review of teaching is used as part of the evidence for teaching excellence, it is important the reviewer take a scholarly approach to the peer review. For instance, they will have used multiple sources of data to perform the review such as feedback from students, review of course materials, websites etc. and an in-depth discussion with the instructor on how their syllabi, including assessment methods, help them meet student learning outcomes. This would be in addition to visiting several of the instructor’s classes. For more information on effective peer review please view this resource.  

Course Development Efforts 

Please provide evidence for excellence in the design of no more than three newly-developed courses. Describe the rationale for and process used to develop and refine the course. If the course is successful because of design innovation, explain what is unique and effective, giving evidence. Are students learning something different because of the design? How do we know? 

Examples of Course Materials 

Please do not simply copy course outlines and major assignments into the dossier without interpretation. If you are convinced that certain course materials will clarify or burnish claims of teaching excellence, excerpt noteworthy elements and explain why they are significant. 

The explanation is crucial because the Committee needs to connect the materials with other messages in the dossier. Do the materials illuminate some part of the nominee’s attitudes and orientation? Some aspect of the teaching philosophy? A novel or important teaching method appearing earlier in the dossier? Please be explicit in your explanations. 


Evidence for educational innovation may occur in the classroom, the post-secondary institution or beyond. In this section it is important to highlight how the nominees’ innovation goes beyond their own classroom.  When describing innovative practices, please tell us why you believe they are innovative, perhaps addressing what theme in innovation you were trying to address. Current themes for innovation include for example, students-as partners, student and university well-being, decolonization, remote learning, work integrated learning and open educational resources. 

In providing evidence, you may wish to annotate those practices to explain why you consider them innovative. Please include unique examples of educational innovation that have not been used in other sections of the dossier. For instance, evidence for a unique teaching strategy could be presented under teaching excellence but in this section, we would want to see evidence of the impact of that strategy on others. Similarly, evidence for educational leadership might include the production of the scholarship of teaching and learning. In this section we would like to hear what has been the impact of that scholarship. Have others, for instance, changed their pedagogical practices as a result of your scholarship. Evidence for educational innovation may include but is not limited to: 

  • Adoption of innovation by others 
  • Development of initiatives or innovations that have had a significant impact on higher education (at their institution or beyond) 
  • Data showing impact (performance measures, institutional change, baseline data for comparison purposes, learning impact, outcome evaluations) 
  • Innovative work around effective implementation of instructional design principles for effective teaching and learning experiences and evidence for your success 
  • Creative work around designing educational development activities for faculty and others and evidence of impact 
  • Development of educational resources that have been used by others 
  • External recognition 
  • Resulting course delivery tools 
  • Resultant scholarship 
  • Learner feedback 


The best letters are specific and authentic. These are signed and dated letters from colleagues or former students. 

To avoid redundancy, each letter should address a separate facet or two of the nominee’s teaching, leadership and innovation. The focus in the letters should be on the impact the nominee has had on the individual, group, institution or discipline. Elements might include commentary on student engagement, support for student learning, professional value of the courses, effective teaching strategies, curriculum design, campus-wide impact, teaching reinforced by research, peer mentoring, and so on. Examples are stronger than adjectives. 


Please do not ask for letters from current students. They are vulnerable by definition, even if they express a strong, unprompted desire to play an active role in supporting the nomination. 


Note: No more than 3 may be included. 


Note: No more than 3 may be included. 


Write a 250-word press release to describe what is special about the nominee’s achievements and show memorably and persuasively how and where they made a difference. It should summarize the nominee’s dossier persuasively. Try to identify the truly unique impact the individual has had on their post-secondary institution and beyond. Bring out the voice of the nominee or their impact on students in a way that differentiates them from other excellent instructors. 

The press releases must make sense to a general audience outside the institution and to other instructors. It may include short quotes directly from the rest of the dossier, such as a strong comment from one of the letters. 

The press release will be used in promotional materials announcing the new Distinguished Teaching Award recipient, the Brock News, including but not limited to CPI website content, media releases and other applications as needed to promote the award. Include a high resolution headshot 200 x 200.

Please look at examples of previous 3M Fellowship recipients on the STLHE web site as an example of what this section should contain. 


This section is optional. 

The Appendix is an optional section of the dossier and may only include a copy of the student evaluation of teaching instrument and student comments from two or more classes. No other information will be read. If student evaluations are included in the dossier, include a blank copy of the student rating form, or at least a clear statement of the global question(s), together with the possible responses. 

Also, if student evaluations are included in the dossier, unedited student comments from two classes must be included here. A brief analysis of student comments by someone other than the nominee should accompany this section. Please explain how the comments were prepared. You might consider highlighting what the comments say about the nominee’s teaching. Please include the number of comments and the total number of students in the class. These comments are not included in the page count. 

Do not include other material in the appendix: it will not be read.

NOTE: Criteria and application guidelines for Distinguished Teaching are currently under review for the 2025 application year. Please reach out to cpi@brocku.ca if you are interested in starting a dossier for the 2025 competition.

Nominations for the award can be made by Senior Administrators, Deans, Directors, Chairs, or faculty members to the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation teaching award online repository found here.

Written permission of the nominee is required.

The Selection Committee is chaired by the Associate Vice-Provost, Teaching & Learning or the Director of CPI (or their designate) who serves in a non-voting role. The remaining voting members of the Committee include:

  • a Dean or an Associate Dean,
  • three members of the academic community,
  • one undergraduate student
  • one graduate student

CPI makes all possible efforts to ensure that the Committee consists of representation from all Faculties. A nominator of a candidate for this Award is not eligible to serve on the Selection Committee for that year.

The Chair of the Selection Committee will report its recommendations to the Senate Committee, which will in turn recommend the candidate to the Vice-President, Academic.

The award need not be made each year if, in the opinion of the Committee and the Vice-President, Academic, there are no suitable candidates.

The award will consist of University recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching, acknowledged at a Fall convocation by the presentation of a certificate and monetary award. The monetary award will be made available to the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award in the form of a tax-sheltered professional allowance. The funds will not be attached to any specific activity or proposal, but must be spent according to the University policy for professional allowances.

Recipients of the award may also be recognized at the annual Tribute to Teaching event hosted by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation at the end of the Fall term.


  1. Is it 35 pages or fewer, not including the cover and divider pages, the nomination brief, and the appendix (if needed)?
  2. Does the nomination letter serve as a guide, directing readers to specific examples? Think of the nomination letter as an executive summary of the entire dossier. 
  3. Does the dossier “flow”? You can achieve this flow by carefully weaving the evidence, from one section to another. 
  4. Is the evidence aligned and integrated with the claims made in the nomination letter? 
  5. Are there discrepancies within the nomination, claims unsupported by evidence?
  6. Does the dossier use clear, plain language? If you have used jargon, is it necessary? 
  7. How effective or important are any lists you’ve included? 
  8. In Teaching Strategies, what pedagogical issue was the nominee trying to address? How effective was it? Is the explanation concrete? 
  9. How much teaching is the nominee doing? We expect at least 3 classes yearly, or the equivalent, but do explain different contexts that are still considered normal at your institution. 
  10. If student evaluations are included is normative data missing from student evaluations, or do negative or critical student comments appear to have been omitted from the document? 
  11. If there are negative or critical student comments, how did the nominee respond to them? 
  12. Did the committee work included in the “Educational Leadership” section make a real difference? How does the dossier reveal deep, influential leadership? 
  13. What is the scope and nature of nominee’s leadership, e.g. campus-wide, student groups, outreach, politics, national, international? 
  14. Did course development activities make a difference, improve a program, inspire others, enhance student learning? 
  15. Have the nominee’s activities and achievements been contextualized within the discipline and post-secondary institution at large? No two institutions are alike, so have you explained what is unique about your institution or program? 
  16. Have nominees in leadership positions clearly demonstrated how their work and accomplishments exceed duties normally expected of them? 
  17. Have you described why a particular strategy or course materials or new policy development was truly innovative? What evidence is presented? 
  18. Did you include no more than 2 or 3 letters of support from students and 2 or 3 from other referees? If you have additional and forceful letters, quote from them elsewhere in the dossier. 
  19. Who solicited the support letters? Why were the writers chosen? 
  20. Is every page legible? 
  21. Have you identified the author(s) – by name and position – including the preparers of student evaluation results, and hired, professional consultants? 

The deadline for submissions is May 30 each year.

There are three components of the Distinguished Teaching Award nomination packages that must be submit to the online repository:

  • the completed nomination form
  • the dossier in a single searchable PDF file (name the file this way, surname first: “DTA_LAST NAME_First Name_Year.pdf”, “DTA_SMITH_Brenda_2021.pdf”) and
  • a high resolution (minimum 300 dpi) digital photograph (head and shoulders) of the nominee to be used for the promotion of the teaching award and the recipient.

Submissions are to be made to the online repository below.

Submit all components of your application for the Distinguished Teaching Award here.

All files received in the online repository will be acknowledged by an automated email reply.

Please do not forward hard copy documents, flash drives, or other electronic media.

Questions? Contact the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation at cpi@brocku.ca.