Research, experiential learning and graduate categories added to teaching awards

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Engineering, Social Sciences

Dr. Brent Mainprize (business) is the recipient of the Harry Hickman Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and Educational Leadership.

Dynamic teaching is a cornerstone of our extraordinary academic environment at UVic. Recognizing that the translation of knowledge has transformed the role of teaching in an ever-shifting, multimedia world, the university has redoubled its commitment to honour outstanding teachers with a trio of new awards for 2016.

The Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Supervision and Mentorship, Award for Excellence in Research-Inspired Teaching and the Award for Excellence in Teaching for Experiential Learning are the new awards presented for teaching distinction.

The new awards complement the longstanding Harry Hickman Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and Educational Leadership, the Gilian Sherwin Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Andy Farquharson Awards for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching.

“Our students benefit from the dynamic and diverse mentorship of their teachers and we are proud to celebrate those achievements through these awards.  Our honourees are exemplary models of excellent and inspired teaching at UVic; each of them engages and empowers students to rise above expectations and become tomorrow’s leaders,” says Vice-President Academic and Provost Valerie Kuehne.

The honourees for this year’s teaching awards were presented at a ceremony on May 24.

Harry Hickman Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and Educational Leadership

Dr. Brent Mainprize (business)

Entrepreneurial expert Mainprize strives to help his students feel the transformational power of education instead of simply gaining knowledge. Over almost 20 years of teaching at UVic, he has continually improved his curriculum, challenging students to be better entrepreneurs through innovative exercises like the venture challenge—start with $5 and build a business in a month—and creating and pitching business plans. He is the founder and program director of Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs, a program that takes business education to Aboriginal communities. His passion for entrepreneurial education reaches even farther with the Venture Intelligence Quotient, a software-based venture development tool used around the world that helps students determine the possibilities and potential weaknesses of start-up propositions.

Gilian Sherwin Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching

Mark Bridge (business)

“I think he should coach other profs on how to teach, because he's got it down!” says one student of professor Bridge’s business law class at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business. A graduate of UVic’s Faculty of Law, Bridge uses an engaging classroom style and focuses on helping students apply law to business situations they might expect to meet in life. As a first-time instructor at UVic in 1993, his course was such a success that students sent an unsolicited letter to the Dean of Law recommending he stay on so that future students could benefit from his teaching. He has also been a major contributor to programs like the North West Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs program, UVic’s Business Law Clinic and a number of other scholarship and training initiatives.

Excellence in Teaching for Experiential Learning

Dr. Erin McGuire (anthropology)

“I have come to understand that being a good teacher is rarely an accident, but rather a product of reflection and continuous learning,” says McGuire, who actively engages in learning as much as she does in teaching. Her teaching philosophy encourages students to take risks in their learning and to embrace failure as a possible and valuable step in the learning process. Even in large survey classes McGuire incorporates hands-on learning, discussion and collaboration in students’ experiences. “It is essential,” she emphasizes, “to begin experiential learning in the first year.” In courses such as Viking Archaeology and the Archaeology of Death, students take part in experiential workshops and gain fieldwork experience.

Excellence in Research-Inspired Teaching

Dr. Jim Tanaka (psychology)

“I aspire to bring excitement, passion and challenges of scientific research to the classroom,” says Tanaka. As a world-class psychological scientist in visual perception, Tanaka provides his students a rare and high-impact invitation to the world of research. Undergraduate students become an integral part of the lab environment, actively participating in lab meetings, sharing ideas and research questions, planning studies, interpreting results and solving research–related problems. As one student says, “Tanaka gives students the opportunity to become involved in cutting-edge research projects, and in doing so, he both creates and leads a culture of mentorship among research assistants, honour students and graduate students.”

Excellence in Graduate Supervision and Mentorship

Dr. Catherine Costigan (psychology)

“I was fortunate to be shaped by several influential mentors during my own training, and I have a great deal of respect for the importance of the mentorship relationship,” says Costigan. Her role as graduate supervisor encompasses a broad range of activities including research supervision, clinical supervision, well-being and mentorship for all of the graduate students who begin the seven-year-long program. Providing advice on work-life balance and support through life’s challenges is also part of Costigan’s supervisory role. As one student says, “Dr. Costigan has a collegial style of supervision that helps put her students at ease.” Another attests, “She gently shapes and guides her mentees, rather than directs their development.” Costigan has provided direct clinical supervision to 24 students and supervised 40 theses and dissertations since 1998.

Andy Farquharson Awards for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching

Andreas Bergen (computer science)

Bergen is well-known in his department for both enthusiasm and patience in his teaching, which he supports with strong communication and collaboration skills.  He was also instrumental in helping initiate, design and implement the Computer Science Assistance Centre, which supports undergraduate students in first and second year computer science courses—and co-led the centre for its first offering.

Elizabeth Hagestedt (anthropology)

Hagestedt has served as the department’s Head TA for the department’s largest course for the past three semesters, and this year also took on the role of Teaching Assistant Coordinator for the department. Her innovative teaching materials, and her use of current issues to illustrate anthropological concepts, has helped inspire new undergraduate students to major in anthropology.

Usman Khan (mechanical engineering)

In Khan’s teaching, his excellent grasp of technical content joins with his enthusiasm for problem solving—motivating his engineering students to do their best work. Khan has shown great skill and creativity in designing exercises and assignments that teach a wide range of knowledge and skill sets in formats that are engaging and accessible for students.


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Keywords: teaching, award, anthropology, psychology, computer science, mechanical engineering

People: Brent Mainprize, Mark Bridge, Erin McGuire, Jim Tanaka, Catherine Costigan, Andreas Bergen, Elizabeth Hagestedt, Usman Khan

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