Text Only Page



Trent University Announces Recipients of Distinguished Teaching Awards


Recipients of Educational Leadership and Innovation in Instruction, Excellence in Teaching Assistance Awards to be Honoured at March 31 Reception

Monday, March 17, 2008, Peterborough

Trent University is pleased to announce the recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Awards: the Distinguished Teaching Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation in Instruction has been awarded to Professor Alan J. Slavin of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance has been awarded to Barry R. Best in the Department of Chemistry.

Prof. Slavin and Mr. Best will be among the internal teaching award winners recognized at a special reception on Monday, March 31 at 5 p.m. in Trent University’s Alumni House at Champlain College. Award presentations will begin at 5:15 pm. All are welcome.

Distinguished Teaching Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation in Instruction – Prof. Alan Slavin

In recognition of other areas of instruction, and especially to the introduction of innovative methods in teaching and leadership in promoting an enhanced learning environment, Trent University has awarded the 2007–2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation in Instruction to Professor Alan J. Slavin.

Prof. Slavin has been a part of Trent’s faculty since 1973. He is currently chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science and a Masters of Science from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. In addition to receiving this award recognition, Prof. Slavin is a past winner of the prestigious Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has also been awarded the Canadian Association of Physicists’ Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education’s 3M Teaching Fellowship, and the Ontario Lieutenant-Governor's Award for Teaching.

This award recognizes Prof. Slavin as “a leader among faculty, in his own department, at Trent and in the broader educational community” – a leader who is “fuelled by a genuine desire to improve teaching and learning in physics.” He is described by his nominators as an “advocate for innovative teaching and as a mentor” whose efforts are “above and beyond his regular research and teaching commitments.”

A true innovator in the realm of teaching, Prof. Slavin has been among the first in Canada to adopt some of the new approaches which research has shown to be more effective in developing lasting conceptual understanding in physics, including Peer Instruction and Just-in-Time Teaching. Most recently, he has spearheaded the use at Trent of electronic “clickers”, a tool that effectively facilitates the Peer Instruction process.

Prof. Slavin’s involvement in teaching goes far beyond the classroom level. He encourages excellence in teaching and learning through sharing his pedagogical experience and strategies with others. Since 1998, he has delivered 15 presentations at Trent and at other universities and conferences; has eleven journal and conference papers on teaching in higher education, and has developed a handbook for new faculty members in physics which has served as a template for other departments at Trent. His influence has had an impact not only on undergraduate education, but also on post-graduate and pre-university education. For example, he has been involved in the Peterborough Regional Science Fair for most of its 35-year existence, was central in the establishment of the Applications in Modelling in the Natural and Social Sciences graduate program, and was an active participant in the launch of the new graduate program in Materials Science. He also has over 50 peer-reviewed scientific publications in the physics of solid surfaces.

In response to receiving this distinguished teaching award, Prof. Slavin commented, "I am honoured to be included among the company of Mary Jane Pilgrim and Marg Hobbs, the inaugural recipients of this award. Trent University's reputation for teaching excellence is a long and proud one, built on a combination of active involvement by students, and the expertise and commitment of faculty and staff. My thanks to the many students and colleagues who have inspired me in my work, and rewarded me with their own enthusiasm for learning and sharing their knowledge."

Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance – Barry Best

Trent University remains proud of its reputation for encouraging learning through small groups where others beyond the course instructor can and often do play an invaluable role. The Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance acknowledges the contributions of academic assistants, and those that facilitate learning in workshop, tutorial, seminar, laboratory, and field settings. An individual may only receive this award once during his or her career.

The 2007–2008 recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance is Barry R. Best, the Chemical & Instrumentation Technician/ Demonstrator in the Department of Chemistry.

Mr. Best is recognized for his in-classroom work with undergraduate students in the use of chemical instrumentation. A Trent alumnus, Mr. Best completed his Bachelor of Science from the University in 1980. He has held various research and technician positions within the Department of Chemistry from 1978–1984, and returned to Trent as full-time staff in 1994 after working in an industrial research and development centre for 11 years.

His nominators noted that Mr. Best is deserving of this recognition because of his “remarkable teaching skills,” “broad knowledge base” and “professional mannerisms” that provide students with a solid understanding of chemical instrumentation and analysis. Such attributes are apparent when he tutors students in the laboratory: “Barry takes the time to explain to each student not only how the instrument works, but also why the instrument is useful and what the output means.” Such an approach, according to one of his nominators, effectively allows students to “discover the analytical instruments for themselves, while laying down the foundation for safe exploration.”

In response to receiving this award distinction, Mr. Best commented, “I am really honoured to receive this award. Working with students is the most rewarding and enjoyable component of my position.”

Nominations for both distinguished teaching awards were submitted to Trent’s Teaching Awards Sub-committee on behalf of University faculty, staff and graduate student teaching assistants. This is the second year the Distinguished Teaching Awards have been awarded.


For more information, please contact:
Sue Robinson, Secretary, Teaching Awards, Trent University, (705) 748-1011 ext. 7255