Natalie Hutchings and Marcel Pinheiro receive the 2019 Excellence in Science Teaching Award

Monday, March 18, 2019

Vision scientist Natalie Hutchings and Biology continuing lecturer Marcel Pinheiro have been awarded the Faculty of Science's 2019 Excellence in Science Teaching Award for their innovative and engaging teaching methods.

Natalie Hutchings, School of Optometry and Vision Science

Natalie HutchingsAssociate Professor Natalie Hutchings has exhibited excellence in all areas of teaching within the School, including classroom teaching for the Doctor of Optometry (OD) and Vision Science Graduate Program, practical skills teaching in laboratory classes and clinical supervision.

Hutchings was also recognized for leadership in curriculum development, her efforts to mentor early career faculty and a deep concern for student well-being.

She has a strong and consistent track record on teaching evaluations with course material that many consider above average in difficulty. Her positive reception is largely due to her fantastic communication skills and ability to engage students in discussions and activities that connect applied basic sciences to support strong clinical decision-making.

The undergraduate courses are often challenging for professional optometry students who tend to prefer biology-based courses over physics-based courses. She is very patient and works with the students to make the material accessible for long term retention.

"Dr. Hutchings is not only beyond intelligent and an incredible educator, she is also caring, supportive and understanding," said student Tanisha Lutz. "Students feel comfortable approaching her to ask questions and she is always more than willing to help.

She keeps abreast of new developments in teaching using the current academic literature and interactions with Teaching Fellows at the faculty and university level. She has successfully incorporated a number innovations within her teaching to help translate core concepts in applied real-world understanding. These include small group problem solving within lectures combined with guided reflections to identify points of confusion.

Hutchings is committed to enhancing teaching quality across the School and is currently working on initiatives to update the curriculum, equate teaching loads across faculty members and institute summative and formative clinical teaching evaluations to support tenure-track clinical faculty.

Marcel Pinheiro, Department of Biology

Marcel PinheiroContinuing Lecturer Marcel Pinheiro is dedicated to using the best and most innovative pedagogical techniques. He is an active and regular participant in the Centre for Teaching Excellence courses and workshops, Teaching and Learning conferences and an active member and contributor to the Ontario Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators.

Pinheiro's expertise is in parasitology and zoology. Over the past three years, he has taught at least 6 difference courses and developed three courses from scratch (Biol 101, 310 and 414). He consistently scores in the top 5 for his teaching evaluations. His students consistently comment that he presents content in a clear and fun way and deeply cares about them and their success.

He uses the latest educational software packages, teaching techniques and technology to enable a positive learning environment that works for students with different learning styles. His teaching style takes a student-centred learning approach that encourages inquiry-based learning rather than memorization.

His passion for teaching goes beyond his classes at UWaterloo. He's also committed to sharing his enthusiasm and love of biology with elementary school students and the local community. 

Pinheiro is also a great team player and positively contributes to the Department of Biology. He is a member of numerous committees and is the academic advisor for the Biomedical Science program, the largest in the department.

"The Department of Biology is very proud to have Marcel as a colleague and our students are lucky to have him as their instructor," said Hugh Broders, department chair. "This recognition is very well deserved.

The Excellence is Science Teaching Award (ESTA) was initiated by Associate Vice-President, Academic Mario Coniglio when he was the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies in the Faculty of Science. Since 2011, the ESTA has be awarded annually to a maximum of two candidates from the Faculty of Science. Nominees are evaluated by a committee on their ability to:

  • demonstrate sustained and high-quality teaching in their courses
  • utilize current and best practice teaching techniques
  • present high quality subject matter with intellectual rigour and integrity
  • use and/or has developed innovative and state-of-the-art teaching techniques 
  • contributes to the improvement of teaching and learning within the Department/School or University
  • has, as an instructor, had a favourable and lasting influence on students or colleagues

  • demonstrates a sensitivity to the needs of students and a sincere concern for their overall learning, and academic and personal growth

Congratulations Natalie and Marcel!

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