Acadia University launches Evans Teaching and Learning Scholar Program, appoints Scholars
Acadia University has appointed three scholars to the inaugural Evans Teaching and Learning Scholars program. A collaboration between the Centre for Teaching and Learning and the Office of Advancement, the program supports teaching innovation and creates communities of practice around teaching and learning. The program has been generously funded by Donna and Rod Evans (’73).
The Evans Scholars will represent the Arts, Professional Studies, and Pure and Applied Science faculties. Each will serve a three-year term, receive a three-credit-hour course release, and have an annual budget of $5,000 to support their project work.
"Acadia's commitment to exceptional teaching and learning, as well as the creation of unique and comprehensive teaching innovations, is reflected in this program," says Dr. Laura Robinson (’88), Interim Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning Excellence. She is confident that the Evans Scholars will create opportunities to contribute to the academic community and leave a lasting impression inside and outside the classroom.
The Evanses say they have always held Acadia University in high regard for its pioneering spirit in delivering a liberal arts education, a reputation that earned global praise with the launch of Acadia Advantage in 1996. Today, innovation continues to be at the heart of Acadia.
"We were aware that Acadia was a trailblazer when they initially introduced the Acadia Advantage, which supplied laptop computers to all students, elevating their learning experience," say Donna and Rod Evans. "This forward-thinking use of technology in education inspired us to support establishing a Centre for Teaching and Learning. The Centre will help harness the skills of extraordinary educators by creating a platform for them to exchange best practices and design inventive tools to enrich student learning."
The Evans family partnered with the Office of Advancement to generously support faculty members, ultimately enhancing the academic experience for students throughout the campus.
"Acadia can provide remarkable opportunities for both our faculty and students, thanks to families like the Evanses who believe in giving back and fostering excellence in teaching and learning," says Nancy Handrigan (’92), Acadia's Vice-President, Advancement. "Their generous gifts will create a lasting impact this year and for future generations as our students thrive from engaging and transformative educational approaches."
Meet Dr. Daniel Blustein, an assistant professor of psychology and the Evans Scholar in the Pure and Applied Science faculty. He's the brain behind the Acadia Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Scholars’ program, which aims to support students historically excluded from STEM fields. Through recruitment and focused mentorship, the program will empower these students to excel academically and pursue a career in the sciences, promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM fields and encouraging a new generation of STEM scholars.
“I’m honoured and thrilled to receive one of the inaugural Evans Scholar positions. The STEM Scholars program I will implement through this position will support the success of students from groups historically excluded from the sciences,” says Blustein. “I also hope the program will help catalyze meaningful progress on campus as we strive to build a more inclusive and equitable academic environment.”
Dr. Michelle Boyd (’01), an instructor in the School of Music, is the Professional Studies faculty Evans Scholar. She has proposed a project to create an open-access educational resource on Canadian music history. The goal is to challenge the centrality of Western music in university music education and address the lack of resources on Canadian music history for university students.
“The project I will undertake – developing a new open-source textbook and learning resources for Music in Canada – will impact my students and my teaching and contribute to the discipline of Canadian music pedagogy at large,” says Boyd, adding that she is grateful to be supported as she pursues the work.
“I look forward to involving my students in this research, connecting with colleagues as I develop this project, and sharing this learning journey with the Acadia community,” she says.
Dr. Chelsea Gardner, associate professor of history and classics, is the Arts faculty Evans Scholar. Her project aims to introduce innovative pedagogies and experiential learning into undergraduate courses at Acadia, particularly through digital and interactive assignments. The ultimate objective is to create a more engaging classroom environment, challenge traditional teaching and learning methods, and move beyond dated assessment methods. She will be offering three distinct projects over three years.
“I'm very grateful for the opportunity to explore alternative pedagogies in my classrooms and am thrilled to share my progress with the entire campus community," says Gardner. “I'm especially looking forward to recruiting student and faculty volunteers from across campus for the workshopping and beta-testing of these various activities.”
Her projects will include archaeological lab sessions, Reacting to the Past microgames, and Wikipedia Education training.
About the Centre for Teaching and Learning
Acadia University takes great pride in its commitment to quality teaching and fostering student learning. Under the guidance of the Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning Excellence, the Centre for Teaching and Learning assists faculty members in improving and expanding their courses, regardless of the format or location. The centre facilitates and recognizes faculty achievements in teaching innovation and excellence while promoting professional growth through various programs and workshops. Services offered include assistance in assignment or quiz revision, course redesign, crafting a teaching philosophy, developing a teaching dossier, implementing universal design for learning, utilizing Moodle effectively, and much more - all to provide comprehensive support for faculty members.