University of Calgary

Expert hails Qatar campus approach to ‘situated learning’

UToday HomeFebruary 26, 2013

Mark Brown, director of the National Centers for Teaching at Massey University in New Zealand, kicked off UCQ’s Distinguished Speaker Series.Mark Brown, director of the National Centers for Teaching at Massey University in New Zealand, kicked off UCQ’s Distinguished Speaker Series. It’s always a good feeling to know when you’re doing something right. It appears the University of Calgary – Qatar (UCQ) has got it right when it comes to teaching in the 21st century, according to a leading expert in the field.

“Leading universities are now investing heavily in optimising teaching to promote student success in learning,” says Mark Brown, PhD, from Massey University in New Zealand.

“This is evident at UCQ where ‘situated learning’ is used to actively engage students in highly realistic and meaningful learning experiences. For example, rather than being taught maths in isolation, students participate in clinical simulations to learn first-hand how to make correct calculations and use numerical information for distributing medications and determining rates of intravenous flow in hospital clinical work,” says Brown.

The director of the National Centers for Teaching and Learning at Massey’s three New Zealand campuses, Brown kicked off UCQ’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

The UCQ Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has established a new Certificate of Professional Inquiry and Scholarship for faculty and instructors. This program supports 22 faculty as they learn to inquire and study their classroom and clinical teaching.

Ken Ryba, CTL teaching and learning specialist, says, “U of C is entering a new era in which the study and improvement of teaching will be emphasized throughout the faculties and departments. U of C main campus recently announced the establishment of a new Institute for Teaching and Learning which will engage faculty and students in innovative projects for improving and rewarding teaching across the university. Likewise, the UCQ Center for Teaching and Learning recognizes and supports teaching excellence through awards, certificate programs and special teaching and learning project initiatives.”

“UCQ’s approach is to create a ‘culture’ of scholarship in which faculty work in project clusters (professional learning communities) to learn how to use and share evidence of new teaching methods and strategies for improving student engagement and achievement,” Ryba adds.

Brad Johnson, director of CTL, is pleased with the many innovative projects the faculty are conducting to improve teaching for better learning. “The CTL is now adopting what Professor Brown refers to as third-generation teaching and learning support.”

Kim Critchley, UCQ dean, notes that the Distinguished Speaker Series promotes connections with other stakeholders in Qatar. Faculty from Qatar University, Weill Cornell University, College of the North Atlantic, and Hamad Medical Corporation were present at Brown’s address.

Critchley explains, “The bottom line is that all the people of Qatar will eventually benefit from the knowledge being exchanged through improved health care and healthy living.”


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