Partnerships in teaching and learning: spotlight on year 2 implementation grant projects

Students sitting in a lecture hall while a professor teaches

With 2023-24 Partnered in Teaching and Learning grant applications now open and in celebration of Teaching and Learning Month in May, we connected with some of last year’s Partnered in Teaching and Learning grant recipients to see how their work has brought collaboration and partnership to life in teaching and learning communities across McMaster.

Partnered and Interdisciplinary Learning

Krista Madsen (Faculty of Science) and Daanish Mulla (PhD Candidate, Kinesiology)

One of the goals of Krista Madsen and Daanish Mulla’s work was to add more authentic learning opportunities in Biomechanics, a level II core course, for the undergraduate Kinesiology program. Madsen and Mulla curated a list of podcasts that relate to biomechanics and are connected to a variety of topics such as EDI/accessibility, fashion, evolution, music and more. Each month students are asked to pick a podcast and respond with a detailed written reflection. Madsen says this approach has been resonating with students because they can see how biomechanics connects to broader topics that interest them.

“The big theme is this — let’s make sure students don’t get so hung up on the details of the calculations that they miss the big picture. Why are we learning this in the first place? Instead of beginning each story with formulae, we start with real-life applications that students can relate to and hopefully be inspired by.”

— Krista Madsen, Faculty of Science

Inclusive and Scholarly Teaching

Kristina Durham (Faculty of Health Sciences)

Kristina Durham and the project team are working to develop the “AnatoME” resource, a curated catalogue of inclusive resources for clinical anatomy education. Durham and her team have started by identifying peer-reviewed literature on clinical assessment across diverse skin tones and plan to expand the catalogue to consider other areas of inclusivity in anatomy education in the future.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what will grow out of this project and where future researchers will take it next. We are also planning to create a catalogue of skin tone diverse resources to be open access and available on a global scale, so I am eager to see how that will impact this field and inspire other skin tone diversity initiatives.” 

— Adam Arca, Year 4 Bachelor of Health Sciences student

Robert Fleisig (Faculty of Engineering)

Robert Fleisig and the project team are exploring practices of scholarly teaching and seeking ways to advance the practices of teachers at McMaster. This past fall, Fleisig hosted Katarina Winka, associate professor from Umeå University, to explore and compare the teaching portfolio approaches between Canada and Sweden. During her visit she met with many members of the teaching and learning community at McMaster to discuss the differences in approach, process and substance to teaching portfolios. Fleisig’s work and the partnership with Winka are helping to identify gaps and possible alternative approaches that could be used to recognize, support and evaluate teaching at McMaster.

“We’re making an implied shift in what it means to teach and what’s valuable with a teaching portfolio — but it’s not explicit, and perhaps it should be. A teaching portfolio should be a unique story of an individual’s teaching supported by evidence, showing growth and demonstrating effectiveness and contributions over a long period of time. But most of the time it’s just a list of things people did. That’s really hard to read and even harder to make sense of what it means or why you did it. Reflection is crucial, but that takes time and space.”

— Robert Fleisig, Faculty of Engineering

Holistic and Personalized Student Experience

Lana Wylie (Faculty of Social Science)

Lana Wylie and the project team are developing an innovative new course titled “Pathways: Approaching Life with a Political Science Degree.” The course is meant to help students understand how their undergraduate education in political science translates to graduate or professional schools, first jobs and career opportunities, and will underscore the value of a liberal arts education while preparing students for life after graduation.

“I had students almost teary eyed, thanking me because when they began the course they had no idea what they wanted to do with their career. They felt so lost, adrift and stressed. By the time the course was over, I know many of them felt better, even if they didn’t know exactly what they wanted to do, they realized many of their peers were in the same position, and that this is normal, and they now had a plan to move forward. I didn’t realize how much the course was going to help student mental health.”

— Lana Wylie, Faculty of Social Science 

Active and Flexible Learning Spaces

Alison Biggs (Faculty of Humanities)

Alison Biggs and her student partners, Tienna Nagel and Jacob Rice, are working to increase flexibility and accessibility with the creation of a digital resource to be used in Linguist 2SY3, a course that relies heavily on in-person engagement. Biggs believes the changes she has made to the course and the impact it’s had on her students would not have been possible if not for the student perspective.

“It’s also great from a student perspective to be able to be involved in a project like this and to have a little bit of a say is a really nice thing. Because it’s very rare as a student to have input on how the courses are being run. To actually have a chance to make a bit of a difference is really nice.”

— Tienna Nagel, student partner and former student in Linguist 2SY3

Nick Marquis (Faculty of Social Science) and Anne Pottier (McMaster University Library)

The McMaster Hybrid Classroom Standard project team has been working collaboratively across all six faculties and with key central teaching support partners to develop a prototype “hybrid” classroom environment that is informed by intentional design. The project involves pan-university feedback from instructors who want to teach in spaces capable of supporting hybrid teaching delivery.

“It is very important to have diverse perspectives involved in this project to share the pain-points and successes across faculties for delivering hybrid teaching solutions to students at McMaster. This provides a more holistic approach to move toward solutions for better teaching and learning across campus.”

— Neil Kotch, DeGroote School of Business and member of the project team

“We hope this project may also influence future classroom renewal projects at McMaster, where classroom teaching features are guided by pedagogical function, collaboration across units and the intentional design of teaching spaces based on evidence as well as student and instructor feedback.”

— Nick Marquis, Faculty of Social Science and co-lead on the project team

The next round of Partnered in Teaching and Learning Grants opportunities are now open to receive applications. Learn more at 2023 PTL Grant Applications website or join one of the information sessions scheduled for May 10 or May 26 during Teaching and Learning Month.

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