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All courses for every first-year Science student will be delivered online this fall. A limited number of students in their second, third and fourth years will return to campus for part of the semester.

Take 5 - Advice For First-Year Students

Maureen zoom meeeting with 5 profsRather than deliver a lecture to first-year students, Dean Maureen MacDonald shared the digital stage with five colleagues who are recognized for their excellence in teaching. The recording of Maureen's conversation with Adam Van TuylKrista HowarthJoe KimRosa da Silva and Veronica Rodriguez Moncalvo was watched by 750 students during their first Sci 1A03 class. After the video played, Maureen had a live-streamed question and answer session with Ana Campos, Director of the School of Interdisciplinary Science.

Students Help Their Department Move Online

Evan and DarrenWhen the pandemic cost them their co-op placements, Physics students Evan Vienneau and Darren Tran were recruited to help their department prepare for online teaching and learning.

Darren was in the Netherlands working with a company that produces single photon detectors while Evan was tutoring in the math learning centre at Mohawk College. When their placements abruptly ended, the Department of Physics & Astronomy received funding from the Dean's Office to hire Evan and Darren. The duo spent the summer helping faculty members and students prepare for online teaching and learning.

Darren (pictured right) and Evan researched best practices and then shared their findings in workshops with instructors and teaching assistants. Their work led to a departmental Microsoft Teams community that discusses online teaching along with weekly online Physics teaching drop-in sessions. Darren created an extensive student manual to help students succeed in their online first-year Physics course. The manual includes study tips and explanations for basic concepts. Evan created an online module to help students get started with the Python programming language. His module will soon be available in Avenue to Learn's Learning Object Repository.

"It feels great to know that fellow undergraduate students are benefiting from the Python module that I developed, especially considering how daunting it can be to get started in programming," says Evan.

"I am proud of the projects that I worked on and hope they helped professors and students adjust to online learning," says Darren. "I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop on online learning to all my professors which was a formidable yet rewarding experience."

Evan and Darren were supervised by professor Cecile Fradin, who credits sustained and invaluable help from Sara Cormier, along with Miranda Schmidt, Rob Cockcroft and Reza Nejat. "I found it particularly useful to learn how to see things through their eyes," says Cecile. "Evan and Darren helped broaden my perspective from a 'how can I help our instructors" to also include "how can I help our students".

So after exploring best practices in online teaching and learning, what advice do Darren and Evan have for faculty members and students?

"I would say that patience and understanding is key to thriving in our current situation," says Evan. "Both profs and students have been thrown into this nearly 100 percent online world and are just trying their best. I think that mutual understanding is important to uphold during these times."

"Have empathy for one another," adds Darren. "We are in unprecedented times and there will be growing pains that come with adjusting to online learning and teaching. Have open conversations about the courses you are taking or teaching and what methods are successful and what methods need to be re-evaluated."

Darren adds that he's now more disciplined with time management after researched best practices in online learning. "Keeping track of time is hard when you're stuck inside all day so I've had to make sure to set up time to relax, talk with people and take care of mental well-being while also making sure I am on top of my classes." Evan says he's more aware of which online methods best suit his personal learning style.When the pandemic cost them their co-op placements, Physics students Evan Vienneau and Darren Tran were recruited to help their department prepare for online teaching and learning. 

Darren was in the Netherlands working with a company that produces single photon detectors while Evan was tutoring in the math learning centre at Mohawk College. When their placements abruptly ended, the Department of Physics & Astronomy received funding from the Dean's Office to hire Evan and Darren. The duo  spent the summer helping faculty members and students prepare for online teaching and learning. 

Darren (pictured right) and Evan researched best practices and then shared their findings in workshops with instructors and teaching assistants. Their work led to a departmental Microsoft Teams community that discusses online teaching along with weekly online Physics teaching drop-in sessions. Darren created an extensive student manual to help students succeed in their online first-year Physics course. The manual includes study tips and explanations for basic concepts. Evan created an online module to help students get started with the Python programming language. His module will soon be available in Avenue to Learn's Learning Object Repository.

"It feels great to know that fellow undergraduate students are benefiting from the Python module that I developed, especially considering how daunting it can be to get started in programming," says Evan. 

"I am proud of the projects that I worked on and hope they helped professors and students adjust to online learning," says Darren. "I had the pleasure of presenting a workshop on online learning to all my professors which was a formidable yet rewarding experience."

Evan and Darren were supervised by professor Cecile Fradin, who credits sustained and invaluable help from Sara Cormier, along with Miranda SchmidtRob Cockcroft and Reza Nejat. "I found it particularly useful to learn how to see things through their eyes," says Cecile. "Evan and Darren helped broaden my perspective from a 'how can I help our instructors" to also include "how can I help our students".

So after exploring best practices in online teaching and learning, what advice do Darren and Evan have for faculty members and students?

"I would say that patience and understanding is key to thriving in our current situation," says Evan. "Both profs and students have been thrown into this nearly 100 per cent online world and are just trying their best. I think that mutual understanding is important to uphold during these times."

"Have empathy for one another," adds Darren. "We are in unprecedented times and there will be growing pains that come with adjusting to online learning and teaching. Have open conversations about the courses you are taking or teaching and what methods are successful and what methods need to be re-evaluated."

Darren adds that he's now more disciplined with time management after researched best practices in online learning. "Keeping track of time is hard when you're stuck inside all day so I've had to make sure to set up time to relax, talk with people and take care of mental well-being while also making sure I am on top of my classes." Evan says he's more aware of which online methods best suit his personal learning style.

Investing In New Faculty & Postdoctoral Fellows

Posdoctorl fellowsTwo first-of-their-kind programs are back to support 28 new faculty members and postdoctoral fellows in the Faculty of Science.

The Faculty of Science was the first at McMaster to introduce a New Faculty Mentoring Program last year while the McCall MacBain Postdoctoral Fellows Teaching & Leadership Program remains the only one of its kind among Canadian universities.

Fifteen new faculty members are participating in the year-long mentorship program. Mentees and mentors met for the first time in late September (pictured above). Lovaye Kajiura, Robin Cameron and Ben Evans from Biology, Krista Howarth from Kinesiology and Kalai Saravanamuttu from Chemistry & Chemical Biology were recruited to serve as mentors. Over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year, new faculty members will take part in a series of online workshops, forums, meetings and lunch and learns, including:
  • MacMindfulness workshops led by Jill Axisa
  • New Faculty Orientation and Teaching and Learning Forum delivered by MacPherson Institute
  • Monthly Quad Mentoring Meetings, with one mentor and three mentees.
  • Peer Observations of Teaching throughout the fall and winter terms. academic year
  • MacPherson Professional Development Teaching Workshops.
  • Pan-University Faculty Development Series and Faculty Lunch &Learns presented by the VP Faculty Office, and a
  • Mentorship Program Wrap Up event in May 2021
The mentoring program was introduced during the largest renewal of faculty members in Science's history. The Faculty of Social Sciences has introduced a similar mentorship program this year.

Investments are also being made in future faculty members, with 13 postdoctoral fellows from six Departments and Schools participating in the McCall MacBain Postdoctoral Fellows Teaching & Leadership Program. The one-year program, developed by Connie Imbault and Joe Kim from the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior and supported by John and Marcy McCall MacBain, develops the next generation of exceptional teachers, researchers and academic leaders. Several leadership workshops have been added, along with a redesigned education cognition journal club. Postdoctoral fellows will work on a discipline-based education research project and write a research-themed op-ed. Several postdoctoral fellows in last year's program had op-eds published in national media outlets and secured tenure-track faculty positions.

Inspiring McMaster Educator Receive Recognition For Outstanding Teaching

MadsenCongratulations to Krista Madsen and the BioBlend Team on receiving the McMaster University President's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Teaching and Learning.

Krista is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Kinesiology. Her nominator wrote, "at the heart of Prof. Madsen's teaching approach and philosophy is a sense of shared humanity, where moments of failure and vulnerability are seen as central to the growth, problem-solving, community and creativity of students in her classroom."

The BioBlend Team created a first-year Cell and Molecular Biology course that is unique among Canadian universities. The course combines online modules, in-class learning and a laboratory project grounded in a core research question. Team members are Robin Cameron, Kim Dej, Rosa da Silva, Lovaye Kajiura, Joanna Wilson, Alison Cowie and Alastair Tracey.
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