Lisa Christian, associate clinical professor in the School of Optometry and Vision Science and Brenda Lee, lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy have been awarded the Faculty of Science's 2021 Excellence in Science Teaching Awards in recognition of their innovative and engaging teaching methods.
With the transition this year to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been important to develop new strategies to teach courses in an online environment. Dr. Christian and Professor Lee have both showed a willingness to not only adapt but find new and innovative ways of using technology to connect with their students virtually.
Lisa Christian, School of Optometry and Vision Science
Dr. Lisa Christian has a long-standing record of exceptional teaching in didactic and clinical education and training programs in the School of Optometry and Vision Science.
She is a leader in clinical education who has earned the respect of her colleagues and peers at Waterloo and other optometry schools across North America. Demonstrating a keen interest in adopting new technology and teaching practices, she is one of the first instructors at the University of Waterloo to use PebblePad, and her work has become a model for others looking to incorporate this technology into their classrooms.
Furthermore, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to transition teaching and learning to an online environment, Dr. Christian created virtual options available for clinical teaching to supplement, and in some cases replace actual hands-on patient care.
"I love helping students connect what is learned in the classroom to clinical practice,” says Dr. Christian. “Because our students are studying to be optometrists, it is often challenging for them to see how a concept that is being taught in lecture can be applied to a patient. Seeing students make these connections is such a rewarding experience."
Brenda Lee, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Professor Brenda Lee is a very bright, creative and hard-working educator in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. She is an instructor who consistently demonstrates sensitivity to student needs ensuring that weaker students are not left behind using the right balance of rigor and compassion.
Throughout the past year, she has developed professional-quality lecture slides and videos using computer-aided graphics and animations, as well as leveraged a custom-developed Discord server with WatIAM verification to help run her classes online. This commitment to the innovative use of technology has supported her sustained high-quality classroom and remote teaching with a strong emphasis on student engagement. This approach, along with Brenda’s willingness to support her colleagues, has been particularly successful in responding to the requirements of remote teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Teaching is not only my passion, but a privilege that I do not take for granted,” says Professor Lee. “Through all of my efforts in and out of the classroom, I see teaching as a gift that touches and inspires both students and faculty and has a lasting impact on everyone's future."
Congratulations Lisa and Brenda!
The Excellence is Science Teaching Award (ESTA) was initiated by Earth and Environmental Sciences Professor Mario Coniglio in 2011 when he was the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the Faculty of Science. This award was established to recognize and reward excellence in teaching and outstanding instructors within the Faculty of Science. Each year, the ESTA award is awarded to a maximum of two candidates from the Faculty of Science.