Dr. Alba Agostino encourages her students to think critically: commenting on, inquiring about and, yes, even rebutting, her course material in the Child and Youth program at Trent University Durham GTA.
“I believe lectures should provide students with opportunities to discover and construct their own knowledge and think critically about course material, as opposed to fostering an environment where students focus on taking notes to simply recall information for an upcoming test,” she says.
For her engaging classroom discussions and commitment to students, Professor Agostino has been awarded the 2018 Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) Teaching Excellence Award.
“My reaction was genuine surprise and I am delighted by this recognition,” she says.
Dynamic Discussions. Critical Conversations.
Prof. Agostino, joined the Child and Youth Studies program in 2016 when the program was in its first year. She’s currently the program coordinator and a senior lecturer. The interdisciplinary degree program attracts students from various programs such as Social Work, Psychology and Sociology.
“This often leads to dynamic discussions in which students learn from each other and are challenged to think more critically,” she says.
Students work in small groups to reflect on theories or concepts discussed in class. They also apply theories to real-world scenarios, which Agostino says helps them better retain information and later apply it to their chosen field of work.
Inspired to Strive for Excellence
The Child and Youth Program is now moving into its third year, and Prof. Agostino says she’s excited to introduce new courses such as Playful Context of Children, Youth and Learning; Indigenous Knowledge for Child and Youth; and Imagination of Child and Youth Culture. Next is to finalize the curriculum of year four, which focuses on bridging the theoretical with application through community placement and research.
Meanwhile, Prof. Agostino finds the OUSA award an inspiration to keep striving for excellence.
“It was an honour to be recognized for my work with the students,” she says. “I feel appreciated and inspired to continue to develop in my role as an educator.