Michael MacDonald, recipient of the Distinguished Teacher Award, 2015

English Language and Literature

Michael MacDonald headshot with books in the background
Michael MacDonald, an associate professor in the Department of English Language and Literature joined the University of Waterloo in 2001. MacDonald surpasses student expectations as a result of his remarkable ability to “communicate content seamlessly through his ability with speech”. Teaching material that can be viewed as ancient is a challenge that MacDonald breaks down and assists students in grasping. He ensures students have an understanding of what is expected, and structures his courses such that students are able to remain focused and on-track. MacDonald does more than just ensuring that his students complete academic requirements. He encourages students to “develop new ways of thinking about language and rhetoric”, which is one way a former graduate felt inspired by MacDonald’s teaching. Outside of the classroom, MacDonald is dedicated to remaining connected and fostering constant interaction with his students. He responds “promptly to students queries on the LEARN discussion boards” and “makes himself available to students” if they ever have questions. MacDonald is always happy to make time to explain concepts further, which provides a highly positive impact on student learning. As an undergraduate describes, “his easy-going but professional demeanour ensured that he commanded respect from the class, while also creating a non-intimidating atmosphere that made the classroom feel like a safe place to speak and promote ideas”.