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Dr. Jo-Anne Brown, Assistant Professor

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2013/07/15 - 11:34am.

Teaching Awards

Great teachers foster safe learning environments. How do you create a positive climate for learning?

I believe it is important that the students understand that making mistakes is a necessary part of the learning process. The failure itself should not be the focal point, but rather what is learned from it and how the student chooses to move forward. After a disastrous midterm in my physics class, I will talk about my own experience in first year. In that year, I failed my first semester calculus and algebra midterms, and then failed (miserably!) my second semester physics midterm. Panning forward 17 years (through undergrad, MSc, working in industry, and then a PhD), I went on to win a national thesis prize (the Plaskett medal for the Canadian Astronomical Society) – the point being that I didn’t let my first year ‘mistakes’ determine the outcome of my academic career. Letting the students know that “I have been there”, and still survived, can help bridge the gap between “them” and me, while still maintaining our clear roles. Besides, if nothing else, the stories I tell during class bring the students’ attention back to the classroom, if their brains have temporarily wandered to the beach!