Tales of a Teacher: Gordon Stubley
Stubley, a mechanical engineering professor who has been teaching in the Faculty of Engineering for 30 years, has been recognized with a 3M National Teaching Fellowship, awarded by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and 3M Canada. Up to 10 people from across the country are presented annually with the fellowship, considered Canada’s most prestigious award for excellence in post-secondary education.
by Sarah Forbes. This is the third of three Centre for Teaching Excellence Teaching Stories that will appear in the Daily Bulletin this week.
Since 1982, Dr. Gordon Stubley has been successfully integrating into his classroom the work that his Engineering students do on their cooperative work terms. He does this, he says, “by discouraging them from acting like students, and encouraging them to act like engineers.” This means that when they’re faced with a tough problem, he treats it like a work assignment and asks them to solve it with minimal guidance, just like they would do on the job. Most of his assignments are like this: they closely match what students have already experienced in the workplace. “By the time students get to me, they’ve already had a least two terms of work experience,” Stubley says. This means that he can assume they’ve previously handled tough problems outside of the classroom. His job is to extend their knowledge from their last work term to what they’re going to be expected to do on the next one.
In Stubley’s Fluid Dynamics course, he’s faced with students who are used to thinking about objects and movement through the perspective of solid items. Now, they are forced to change their way of thinking as they adapt to analysing the movement of fluid items such as water or oil. In order for them to understand the differences, he asks them to intuitively guess how something will behave, and then lets them observe how it actually acts. Often, their intuitive answer turns out to be wrong, forcing them to reevaluate their previous beliefs about movement. This is one of his favourite ways to teach – watching students figure out how things work on their own allows him to sustain his motivation and interest in teaching. “I get a real charge out of watching students work around an idea,” he explains. “When they finally grasp it and use it to do something new on their own, I know I did my job right.”
As well, he’s found that turning his own research ideas into forms that he can explain and teach his students allows him to make new connections, which is rewarding in itself. It’s these rewards that have sustained him through more than thirty years of teaching. Over his career, Stubley has watched the environment of the University of Waterloo change, developing more and more technology for teaching. Now, Stubley says, every class is accompanied by imagery and computer simulations – he no longer uses overheads to illustrate his lectures. The students have changed as well, according to Stubley. While he used to spend time training students on using technology, current students come in with a much higher base knowledge for using those tools. This allows him to spend more time actually using the technology to illustrate concepts of engineering.
Stubley originally undertook teaching to improve his communication and time management before entering the industry side of Engineering, but he quickly discovered that teaching was where he wanted to focus his energy. Now, he says, his classroom is an intense and busy place, perfect for developing both his own ideas and the ideas of his students. His decision to pursue teaching was evidently a good idea: he has received an Engineering Teaching Excellence Award, a 2007 Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award, a 2009 Distinguished Teacher Award, and a 2012 Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance Award for Excellence in Teaching.
An update on the U.S. Executive Order on Immigration and Travel
A message from Peggy Jarvie, Associate Provost, Co-operative & Experiential Education
As you are aware, on January 27 the U.S. President issued an Executive Order (EO) that temporarily blocks citizens from seven nations from entering the United States (on February 4, the order was temporarily suspended). Many of our work terms take place outside of Canada, including the United States. This EO may have an impact on some of our co-op students, and we are seeking answers for those who find themselves faced with uncertainty. This is an unsettling time for many people and we feel much empathy for co-op students affected or concerned about future opportunities.
Since the original announcement, we’ve been working on student-facing messaging in collaboration with the Secretariat, University Relations and CECA’s international experts. As the situation continues to evolve, we will continue working to ensure our information remains accurate and up-to-date. I’m hopeful that the campus community will find this a valuable resource when faced with student inquiries.
Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Retiree Day Recap
The 18th annual Fantastic Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Retiree Day took place Saturday February 11th 2017. The day was a huge success with over 700 spectators out to watch as the Warriors men’s and women’s basketball teams took on the Windsor Lancers. At quarter-time and half-time, there were fun games for spectators to participate in including the annual airplane toss. Almost $350 was raised through the purchase of paper airplanes in support of KidsAbility.
Airplane Toss Winners
- Alumnus Marti Killeen (BA ‘15) , Varsity Basketball - Bose Home Theatre System and Soundlink Speaker
- Owen Wills guest of Alumnus Sharon McCarthy (BA ’85) - Daniel Christian Tang Bracelet and $50 Boston Pizza Giftcard
- Zachary Ograda-Bratu (celebrated birthday on Feb 11) son of Costin Ograda-Bratu, staff member Faculty of Mathematics - $500 Enterprise Voucher and Fitbit
- Alumnus Terry Green (BMath ’87) - $500 Merit Travel Voucher and Warrior Swag
- Luis Solis, community member - Wonderland Season Pass Family Package
Special thanks to our affinity partner Manulife for sponsoring this event. Learn how Waterloo alumni can benefit from special privileges on life, health and dental insurance.
Thanks also to Athletics for their partnership on this event for alumni, faculty, staff and retirees.
Strategic Plan funds first round of classroom renovations
Last December, Waterloo’s Teaching and Learning Spaces Committee (TLSC) surveyed students, staff and instructors to discover what they like and dislike about teaching and learning spaces on campus. Their comments were practical and straightforward. Both students and instructors appreciate well lit, spacious rooms, with good sight lines and ample writing surfaces. There needs to be room for students to get in and out of seats without congestion and for proctors to circulate during tests. Students especially appreciate the availability of electrical outlets for charging mobile devices. Among the preferred classrooms were M3 1006, STC 1012 and AHS 1689, all relatively new rooms.
Classrooms most in need of improvement were described as cramped. Generally, they offered limited writing surfaces, were poorly lit, or had inadequate ventilation. Among such classrooms were AL 113, AL 116, and PHY 145, all heavily used.
The survey yielded valuable feedback from 1240 people, who were eligible to enter a draw. All three winners are undergraduate students: Celine Chang won the first prize (a $300 Waterloo gift card), and second and third prizes went to Sarika Paramananthan ($200) and Kitty Lin ($100).
We used the survey results to identify classrooms to look at in more detail and invited instructors and students who had taught or learned in these rooms to share with the committee their experiences. The combined feedback helped us determine how to address shortcomings in the classrooms to be renovated this year.
Renovations for classrooms are normally scheduled for the spring term because they are too busy to take off-line in the Fall or Winter terms. AL 116 and AL 113 seem obvious choices, but their issues are too complex for the Spring 2017 renovation cycle. Instead, we will be concentrating on PHY 145 and PHY 150. Both are crowded, poorly lit rooms, linked by a common ventilation system that needs replacement. While the PHY rooms are being renovated, we will explore both short-term and longer term alternatives for improving the AL classrooms.
The TLSC committee recognizes the importance of continuous user feedback on the quality of our teaching and learning spaces. A working group of students and faculty will be consulting on the redesign of the two PHY rooms. In parallel, the committee is revamping the Waterloo classroom standards document to inform a detailed classroom assessment later this year. Our goal is to develop a multi-year renovation plan for classroom upgrades and remodeling. Support for the renovations comes, in part, from funding announced by the President in 2015 for two Strategic Plan themes – Outstanding Academic Programming and Vibrant Student Experience.
Watch for an upcoming instructor survey that explores the room features and environments that help instructors teach best. Results will inform the renovation plans as well. Stay tuned!
Grade 10 Family Night
Grade 10 Family Night will take place next week, and will help students learn what they can do now to prepare for applying to any of Ontario's universities.
Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017
Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Applied Health Sciences Atrium and Mathematics 3 building, Waterloo Campus, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue
- 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. Visit information booths from all Faculties along with Athletics, the Student Success Office, Waterloo International, etc.
- 7:00 to 8:15 p.m. Students and families will gather in the lecture hall for a series of presentations, which will include student speakers and representatives from Admissions and Student Awards and Financial Aid.
- 8:15 to 8:30 p.m. Q & A.
Family Day, Reading Week and other notes
A long weekend followed by a study break for students beckons.
Monday is Family Day, a statutory holiday. In typical holiday fashion, a number of university operations and facilities will be closed, including Retail Services, the Physical Activities Complex and Columbia Icefield, (open 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 18 but closed Sunday, February 19 and Monday, February 20), and Food Services, unless otherwise noted on their schedule of hours.
The Dana Porter and Davis Centre libraries will be open from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday. Browser’s Café in the Dana Porter Library will be closed Saturday, February 18 through Monday, February 20.
Even on holidays, the university police (519-888-4911) will be at work, the Student Life Centre's Turnkey Desk (519–888-4434) will be open, and the central plant will monitor campus buildings (maintenance emergencies, ext. 33793).
Monday, February 20 also marks the beginning of Reading Week, which means there will be no classes next week. The University’s offices and services will be open, more or less as usual, Tuesday through Friday, which are regular working days for university employees.
Some Food Services outlets will have modified hours of operation during Reading Week. However, the CEIT Café, Eye Opener Café in Optometry, FRSH in BMH, H3 Café, Liquid Assets in Hagey Hall, ML's Coffee Shop in Modern Languages, the PAS Lounge in the PAS building, Pastry Plus Needles Hall, Starbucks in AHS/BMH, the Tim Hortons in Modern Languages, the Tim Hortons in UWP, the Tim Hortons in the Student Life Centre, and Williams Fresh Café will all be shuttered for the duration of reading week.
Retail Services operations will be open from Tuesday to Friday.
Retiree Professor Ronald Lambert passed away on February 1, 2017 at the age of 80. Professor Ronald Lambert started teaching at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Sociology on September 1, 1966, and retired on September 1, 2004.
Additional notes as the long weekend begins:
The Mathematics & Computer Building will be without chilled water from Saturday, February 18 at 7:00 a.m. to Monday, February 20 at 4:00 p.m. as new valves and lines are installed. The water will still likely be wet.