Welcome to the April 2020 issue of ‘Innovatus’

Innovatus featured image

Welcome to the April 2020 edition of ‘Innovatus,’ a special issue of YFile that is devoted to teaching and learning innovation at York University.

Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt

This month, as everyone works together to flatten the curve during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, I am delighted to partner with the Faculty of Health on this special spotlight edition focused on the excellent work underway within the Faculty to advance teaching and learning and the student experience. Together, Dean Paul McDonald and I have the pleasure to share with you a handful of the exciting endeavors that the Faculty has undertaken recently to enhance teaching and learning for health students. The stories are interesting and uplifting, they offer a perfect tonic in this COVID-19 world.

Over the last five years, the Faculty of Health teaching and learning objectives have been developed to promote and augment innovative, high quality, mission-relevant programs and products for academic excellence as well as to enhance the educational quality and delivery of teaching. This has been achieved by developing and promoting high-impact practices that include development, integration and implementation of experiential education (EE) opportunities both on and off campus; by promoting and supporting technology enhanced learning (TEL) innovations in teaching to support student retention and success; and through the promotion and celebration of high-quality teaching.

Paul McDonald

The Faculty of Health is enabling faculty members to develop and integrate innovation in teaching and learning through a program called Funds for Innovation in Teaching (FIT), by providing all new teaching stream hires with start-up funds, and through the hiring of an educational development specialist. High-quality teaching is promoted and acknowledged by creating an additional teaching award that celebrates curricular and pedagogical innovation and educational leadership. Health also is enhancing the student learning experience by hiring a second experiential education coordinator to further develop the breadth of experiential learning opportunities, including placements, for Faculty of Health students.

Looking to the future, augmenting and promoting Indigenization and internationalization of the curriculum is very important and to this end, there is now an Indigenous advisor role within the Faculty to assist with developing a strategic plan to advance Indigenization of the curriculum. This new role will also work to help students and faculty learn more about Indigenous perspectives. Health has started to build cultural competence in students by infusing more international perspectives into some programs. A new international relations manager has joined the Faculty and we are working now to significantly increase international student placement opportunities.

Featured in this edition of Innovatus

Atypical Development psychology course offers students important experiential learning opportunities
Faculty of Health students in a fourth-year honours seminar on child psychology have spent 32 hours working one-to-one with students from schools throughout the City of Toronto as a way of broadening their understanding of child and youth development. They are participants in community service learning, a type of experiential learning where students engage in activities that support community priorities while meeting their learning goals. Read full story.

Inaugural practicum drawing interest from community partners and students
The inaugural practicum offered in the winter term by York University’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health connected students with community partners. As part of the practicum, students engaged in a variety of diverse tasks, some of which included policy review and writing related to accreditation, working on data collection and analysis for organizational and system implementation, and quality improvement. Read full story.

Community benefits from work by psychology and kinesiology students in C4 capstone course
Frontline workers who deal with people in poverty who are the victims of trauma, in Toronto and globally, will soon have a new online resource, thanks to the innovative work done by a group of students, including three Faculty of Health undergraduates. The students are participating in one of York University’s new interdisciplinary Cross-Capstone Campus Classroom (C4) courses and the results are inspiring. Read full story.

Teaching innovation allows nursing students to see the world through the eyes of a person living with dementia
Pat Bradley, an associate professor of nursing at the Faculty of Health, has created a meaningful experiential education opportunity for the students in York’s Internationally Educated Nurses program. For her Health and Aging course, Bradley hit upon the idea of pairing inexpensive cardboard Google virtual reality (VR) glasses with videos to provide students with the experience of seeing the world through the eyes of someone who is living with dementia. Read full story.

Anatomy students receive a helping hand from innovative pedagogical approach
There are no knives or probes involved when the students in Professor Nicolette Richardson’s upper-year Regional Anatomy II class dissect a human cadaver, because it is all done virtually: no mess, no smell, but plenty of opportunity to learn in this highly experiential education endeavour. Prof. Richardson created the innovative learning experience with the assistance of a grant from the Faculty of Health. Read full story.

‘Innovatus’ is produced by the Office of the Associate Vice-President Teaching & Learning in partnership with Communications & Public Affairs.

In closing, I extend a personal invitation to you to share your experiences in teaching, learning, internationalization and the student experience through the ‘Innovatus’ story form, which is available at tl.apps01.yorku.ca/machform/view.php?id=16573.


Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt
Associate Vice-President Teaching & Learning

Paul McDonald
Dean, Faculty of Health