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Laurier names outstanding teaching award recipients
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Recipients of the Wilfrid Laurier University 2012 Awards for Teaching Excellence were recognized for engaging students, building community and fostering interaction in their classrooms.
Full-time faculty award: Penelope Ironstone, associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies
Ironstone was recognized for her innovative teaching methods, her ability to motivate her students, and her superior intellectual command of the interdisciplinary fields of communication, cultural and media studies.
In his nomination letter, Andrew Herman, chair of the Communication Studies program, says Ironstone approaches teaching as a vocation.
“(Penelope) practices the craft of teaching as a calling, as a set of ethical practices whose overarching purpose is the empowerment of students through learning how to critically interrogate how media and popular culture shape their everyday lives,” Herman writes in his letter. “Her goal is to enable students to evaluate their own progress, thereby enhancing their sense of ownership over the learning process.”
Ironstone is passionate about her subject and says her teaching approach is one that allows her to both challenge and entertain her students. One technique she uses is mnemonics, which is a learning technique that aids memory. For example, Ironstone may tell jokes to help make a concept more memorable or use gestures to link to a certain idea.
“If delivery bores me, it will definitely bore the students,” says Ironstone. “So I like to bring the lecture more into the present moment.
“Ultimately my goal is to make sure that by the end of their program, my students don’t need me anymore. They can think critically on their own.”
Part-time contract academic staff award: Ronald A. Ross, an instructor in the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies and in the Interdisciplinary Medieval Studies Program
Ross has been teaching at Laurier since January 2000 and is known for his professionalism, engaging students inside and outside of the classroom, and his ability to create a learning environment in any class size.
“The Part Time Appointments Committee for Medieval Studies has been hugely impressed year after year with Ron’s abilities to construct clear, transparent, and practical lesson plans and course outlines,” Robin Waugh, an associate professor in the Department of English and Film Studies, says in his nomination letter. “Over the years, his reputation for superb teaching has only grown, as his consistently excellent teaching evaluations demonstrate.”
Waugh, who was the coordinator of Medieval Studies in 2011, adds that Ross is keenly interested in students’ longer term plans, and that he takes measures to engage students to help them reach their goals – a point echoed by one of Ross’s students in a nomination letter.
“Dr. Ross has always shown compassion and concern for students and never failed to make himself available to students to discuss any issues,” says a student. “From schoolwork to courses and even future careers or grad schools, Dr. Ross is never too busy to assist others.”
“What it means to me is that what I’ve been doing has worked,” says Ross. “It validates the amount of effort I’ve put into my teaching, mentoring of students and community service.”
Ironstone and Ross will receive their awards at Laurier’s spring convocation in June.