Associate Lecturer Tamara Kelly of the Department of Biology in York University’s Faculty of Science is a winner of the 2013-14 Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) Teaching Award. This award recognizes exceptional contributions made by professors and librarians to the quality of higher education in Ontario. Kelly is one of five recipients from Ontario universities named as an outstanding university teacher.
Kelly advocates for and gives students the best quality education by creating an environment where her students become self-sustaining critical and analytical thinkers. She is a scholarly teacher, with her teaching rooted in evidence-based practices, such as peer-instruction, two-stage assignments and tests, teamwork, and peer-review techniques – all with the goal of creating the best learning opportunities for students. She has made a clear and effective impact on her students.
“There was never a dull moment in any of Dr. Kelly’s classes,” says a former student. “She engages all students by providing real life examples and by stimulating critical thinking. Dr. Kelly made a positive impact on my learning experience, strengthening my ability to think critically and apply my knowledge to various scenarios.”
Kelly’s approach is deliberately multi-faceted, by using humour and providing real-life examples for almost every scenario, she makes even the most challenging and controversial topics in biology intriguing and easy to comprehend.
She also has a wide range of pedagogical interests including innovative methods, curriculum development, creation of educational materials, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. She is not only interested in impacting the lives of her students, but also in how science is taught within her own discipline and broadly across York’s Faculty of Science, as well as throughout the province (and further afield). This is shown in her grass roots efforts to support and mentor graduate student TAs and new faculty, involvement in strategic Faculty-wide initiatives, such as the science education journal club and speaker series at York, and province-wide activities such as Ontario Biology Day and the Ontario Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators (oCUBE), an organization of which she was a founding member. These have had an impact on the teaching practices of scientists across disciplines and institutions.
“Tamara’s award is most deserved,” says Faculty of Science Dean Ray Jayawardhana. “Her passion for high-quality education comes through in her own classroom teaching, in her mentoring and advising efforts, and in her work as a champion of effective teaching practices in Ontario. She is a role model not only for students, but for her peers as well. This award is a testament to her remarkable calibre and wide-ranging impact as an educator.”
OCUFA represents 17,000 professors and academic librarians in 28 faculty associations across Ontario. It has been celebrating outstanding achievement in teaching and academic librarianship at Ontario universities since 1973.