Merv Mosher chosen as one of Ontario’s top 10 best lecturers

It takes real skill to turn tough subjects like statistics into something students would find interesting, but York lecturer Merv Mosher seems to have done just that. He was chosen as one of the top 10 lecturers in Ontario for TVO’s 2009 Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition by a panel of judges earlier this week. Now it’s up to the public and York community to vote for their favourite lecturer.

Right: Merv Mosher lecturing

Students at York first nominated Mosher in September 2008. He teaches research methods, data analysis and skilled performance & motor learning – three required courses – in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health. “Not many students would take them if they weren’t required,” says Mosher. “My task is to try and make the courses interesting. I try to apply the learning to real world situations. I try to show them why it’s relevant, why it’s useful. Statistics can be quite theoretical in nature, but it can have real world applications.”

Take the mortality rate. According to the way the data is presented, it looks like the average age a person lives to in North America is increasing, and while that is true to some extent, Mosher says that’s not the whole picture. “What is actually happening is we’ve removed infant mortality as a factor.” Infant mortality rates have plummeted in North America and other western societies and that pushes, at least on paper, the average age of mortality up. It makes it look like people are living longer. “That’s something the students can relate to.”

Left: Merv Mosher

Students have called him witty, enthusiastic, humorous, intelligent and someone who grabs their attention and keeps it. “I don’t take myself too seriously,” says Mosher. “I take my teaching seriously, but I poke fun at myself.” Learning to lecture in a way that would capture his students’ attention took years of hard work, but it’s something Mosher loves to do. “I live for the light bulb moment when the students go, ‘ah, now I understand’.”

Mosher’s lecture “Statistics: What’s the Point?" will air on Sunday, March 29 at 4pm. Voting starts immediately after the lecture has aired. There are three ways to vote for Mosher as Ontario’s Best Lecturer:

  • Online through the TVO Web site.
  • By phone to 1-866-281-3536.
  • Through a mobile device by texting the word "vote" to short code 333111.

The public can vote for Mosher starting Sunday, March 29 at 4:45pm until Monday, March 30 at 3pm and again from Tuesday, March 31 at 12:01am until Sunday, April 5 at 6pm. A brief excerpt of Mosher’s lecture will air again on the "Big Ideas" shows on April 4 and 5 on TVO. The winner will be announced on "Big Ideas" on TVO Saturday, April 11 with a repeat on Sunday, April 12. Viewers who vote online will be eligible to enter a draw to win a 50-inch plasma HDTV and DVD home theatre system valued at $5,000, sponsored by TD Insurance Meloche Monnex. For more information about voting, click here.

Mosher has received teaching awards from York’s Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Health and was inducted into the York University Sport Hall of Fame (2002) for his outstanding success as a varsity volleyball coach. In 2005, he was given a Syl Apps Special Achievement Award for volunteer work on behalf of the Ontario Volleyball Association by the Ontario government and the Sport Alliance of Ontario. Two years later, Mosher was inducted into the Volleyball Canada Hall of Fame.

To view a clip of Mosher lecturing, click here.

About TVO’s 2009 Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition

Created to recognize the best and brightest lecturers at the province’s colleges and universities, the competition invites Ontarians to pay tribute to professors whose love of learning has helped to stimulate imaginations, open eyes and push boundaries. Now in its fourth year, TVO’s 2009 Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition, sponsored by TD Insurance Meloche Monnex, celebrates the most engaging and intellectually stimulating lecturers in Ontario. TVO viewers and a panel of judges will help judge the winning lecturer, and the winner’s school will be awarded a $10,000 TD Insurance Meloche Monnex scholarship. This year’s competition began with a six-week nomination period beginning in September 2008, during which students nominated a record 160 professors.

For more information, visit the TVO Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition Web site.

TVO’s 2009 Big Ideas Best Lecturer Competition Jury Members

Suanne Kelman worked for seven years as the arts producer on the CBC Radio show "Sunday Morning", creating her own documentaries, supervising arts coverage and eventually serving on the main current affairs desk. She spent another four years producing short television documentaries and booking interviews and panels for "The Journal". She is the author of All in the Family: A Cultural History of Family Life.

Donna Bailey Nurse is a literary journalist and the author of Revival: An Anthology of the Best Black Canadian Writing and What’s a Black Critic to Do?: Interviews, Profiles and Reviews of Black Writers. She is a frequent book reviewer for The Globe and Mail, the Ottawa Citizen, the Toronto Star and a contributor to CBC Radio and She has two children and lives in downtown Toronto.

Jesse Hirsh is a broadcaster, researcher and Internet evangelist in Toronto, Canada. He frequently appears on CBC Radio and has a weekly spot on CBC Newsworld, where he explains and analyzes the latest trends and developments in technology using language and examples that are meaningful and relevant to everyday life. He owns and operates the consulting firm Openflows Networks Ltd., which specializes in using free software for open source intelligence.