2019 Don Ursino Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Large Classes – Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy 2019 recipient of the Don Ursino Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Large Classes

Don Ursino Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Large Classes
Professor Tim Murphy, Psychology

For more that 20 years, Tim Murphy has voluntarily chosen to teach one of the least liked, highest enrolment courses in the Psychology department — PSYC 2F23: Introductory Statistics and Research Methods.

This year’s fall/winter class has about 270 students plus another 100 in the spring. He has taught class sizes as high as 600 in one academic year fall.

Tim’s dedication to teaching, particularly his success in PSYC 2F23, has earned him multiple teaching awards including the 2018 Brock University Distinguished Teaching Award and 2017 Faculty of Social Sciences Teaching Award.

In Tim’s words: “When considering my approach to teaching this large class, it occurred to me that what I have been doing implicitly for years is working to make my class seem small.”

Tim enlists a variety of creative and innovative teaching methods to help overcome the fear and anxiety that many of his students experience. Simply put, he makes learning fun. Tim also is unwavering in his support to student — so much so, he provides his cell phone number for course emergency calls and texts.

In her letter of support, Associate Professor Dawn Good, comments:

“Despite the large classes he has taught, Tim’s students always feel like he cares about them and their success…. Many students are petrified of statistics, but Tim has a way of reducing their anxiety, explaining the material at a level they can understand before introducing them to more complicated material, and encouraging them in their confidence and determination that they can master the material.”

Another measure of Tim’s success, and one that gives him a great sense of satisfaction, is the feedback from other faculty regarding how well prepared his students are for their work in upper-year courses or research. Students also credit Tim with preparing them to move on in their academic studies.

Here are a examples of testimonials shared by his students:

“…I have Tim to thank for a very large part of my success, now in my own teaching and as a PhD student with a scholarship and external funding. It is largely due to him that I made it so far: I was determined to live up to his encouragement and faith in me…. Having Tim as a professor and mentor not only helped shape the way I learn as a student, but also how I teach as a teaching assistant and tutor.”

“…Everyone felt involved in his class because Tim viewed everyone as equals and as young scholars who had incredible potential to learn. It was amazing to see because stats is a topic some colleagues dreaded, yet everyone wanted to go to class because it was a fun, and a motivating environment to be a part of.”

“…Tim is known for being an incredibly enthusiastic and approachable instructor who can engage students in often difficult and stress-inducing material with his warm and charismatic style and his depth of knowledge.”