My primary aim as an instructor is to facilitate and encourage learning to prepare students for their chosen careers. To accomplish this I see my role as an instructor as the interface between the course material and student. To me, this requires three important skills, which I strive to continually employ. First, instructors must possess the basic background knowledge to be able to deliver course material. Out of the list of skills; this is the skill most scrutinized by potential employers (i.e. hiring committees), but in my opinion it is the least valuable in an instructor’s arsenal. Second, instructors must possess the ability to deliver the course material in a manner in which students can utilize. For example, a good instructor can balance the need to deliver complex information with the need to deliver it in a manner comprehensible to diverse set of learning styles and backgrounds. This task is infinitely more difficult to accomplish than the first, it is somewhat scrutinized by employers through presentation skills and student evaluations, but it is rarely stressed formally as a key teaching skill. Finally, an instructor must be adaptable to alter the first two skills to suite the needs of their students, make it appropriate for the time and context in question, and deliver it at a pace that the students can follow. Surprisingly this skill is rarely evaluated or acknowledged as an important factor in teaching. My philosophy and strength as an instructor is to make concepts relevant for the students so that they may be empowered to learn. I strive to help each student to achieve his or her full potential by adopting in practice these skills that make for an excellent instructor. To this end, I attempt to be a mentor and an advisor who remains available, approachable, and academically current while fostering an atmosphere of mutual fairness, trust, and respect. I strive to inspire, challenge, and motivate each student to learn, to think independently, and to be passionate about a topic.
I strive to meet the challenges of classroom instruction through a variety of means. To a large extent, I rely on my own enthusiasm, interest and preparedness. Students can expect to be challenged on a daily basis by the ever-changing dynamics within the classroom, including individual and group activities. Wherever possible, I incorporate a field component into my courses. While lecturing is an efficient method to convey information, students benefit immeasurably from hands-on experience. And because water resource management is a discipline that does not easily lend itself to a classroom, field instruction is both necessary and essential. My emphasis on practical experience is part and parcel of an overall philosophy to prepare students with real world skills. I believe that an ability to plan, execute, and communicate are essential to most disciplines and careers. Today’s complex problems also require successful collaboration and a multidisciplinary approach. So that students are competitive for employment, I will continue to design projects through which students gain both knowledge and skills. Building on a successful model that I employed as a course and laboratory instructor, I will develop projects that teach students to work together, plan ahead, think creatively, organize their time, synthesize data and information, and communicate orally and in written form.
Current Courses :
RENR 476/576 – Advanced Methods in Fisheries and Wildlife Management ( since 2015)
RENR 376/771 – Fisheries and Wildlife Management (since 2014)
RENR 299 – Field School – Fisheries Methods (since 2013)
RENR 307- Environmental Assessment Principles and Methods (since 2014)
RENR 401/501 – Special Topics (independent study done by request)
Description of Main Courses Taught
i) RENR 376/771 – Fisheries and Wildlife Management
There are 3 hours of lecture per week, divided into three 50-minute sessions. Normally, Mondays and Wednesday I use class time for lectures. On Fridays, I normally go through a case-study that deals with the lecture material. For these case studies I use videos, in-class discussion, in-class debates, and online resources, to help students understand the fishery/wildlife issue. This course introduces the basic principles of fisheries and wildlife management. It is broken into five modules: i) management paradigms, ii) regulatory approaches, iii) managing overharvest, iv) recovering populations, and v) contemporary issues. This is a medium sized class with between 55 and 65 students every year. This is a core (i.e. required) course for students in the Conservation Biology major of the Environmental Conservation Science (ENCS) program. Students from other majors in the ENCS program such as Land Reclamation, Wildlife and Rangeland Resources Management, or Forestry can take this course as an approved program elective (APE). This course is also offered for thesis-based graduate students (RENR771), with extra requirements..
ii) RENR 476/576 – Advanced Fisheries and Wildlife Management
There are 4 hours of lecture/lab per week, divided into two 90-minute sessions (Tuesdays/Thursdays) and a one-hour help session on Friday. This class teaches tools used in fisheries and wildlife management. Topics include: population growth models, managing harvest, life table analysis, age structured models (Leslie matrices), developing population estimates, organismal growth (i.e. growth models), biodiversity indices, and biomonitoring tools. I use a combination of lectures and computer labs to facilitate my teaching goals. I normally lecture on Tuesdays on a given management tool and Thursdays we go through the tool/issue in detail in a computer lab. I use Fridays as a help session and to individually answer questions. One of the unique pedagogical tools I use in this class is a self-compiled textbook that is annotated with R code to allow students to take lecture material and apply it to real data and analyze it on their own. The major project for this course is to apply the concepts learned in lecture and lab and develop their own species-specific analysis assessment and provide management advice from that assessment. The students appreciate the ability to use real data and see the importance of applying uncertain information in a real-life setting. At first (2013-2016) this was a small sized class with around 5 students. Since 2017 this is was listed as a pseudo-core course for students in the Conservation Biology major of the ENCS program. Students in the Conservation Biology major have a choice to take this course or Protected Areas Planning and Management (RENR 462) towards their degree. Students from any major (including Conservation Biology) in the ENCS program can take this course as an APE. Enrollment in 2017 and 2018 is between 15 and 20 students. This course is also offered to graduate students (RENR576), with extra requirement/s.
v) RENR 401/501 – Special Topics in Aquatic Ecology
This is a special topics course that is offered by request and taught to both undergraduate (RENR 401) and graduate (RENR501) students. This class is one-on-one, focuses on applied fisheries research. I typically discuss a research issue with a student and we work together to help solve this issue throughout the semester. Students are responsible for collecting their own data (although depends on course length, i. e. one or two semesters), analyzing data, and writing up their project. I meet with the student bi-weekly to assess their progress.
Description of Courses Co- or Team- Taught
i) RENR 299 – Field School
This is a team-taught three-week field course for 2nd year undergraduate students required for all ENCS students. Between 80-100 students travel to Lac La Biche, AB at the beginning of May and stay at Portage College. Students typically take day trips to different field locations where instructors lead exercises in basic navigation and orienteering, biometrics, plant identification, and ecosite classification (AB specific ecosystem taxonomy). I teach for one and a half days. On the first day, I lecture for three hours on sampling of freshwater fishes using electrofishing. Students are required to pass a test to ensure they are able to safely use a backpack electrofisher. On the second day, we travel to a river and sample fishes. By the end, most students get to sample and identify common fish in the area and get certified as a Level 3 Crew Member.
ii) REN R 307 – Environmental Impact Assessment
This is a team-taught course held in 3 hour sessions one day a week. Each week is a description of a different topic in environmental impact assessment. I teach one class (3 hours) on implementing the Fisheries Act, Canada’s main legislation for protecting fisheries. I discuss the intricacies of the Act and how project proponents navigate the Act during development, including Pathways of Effects model, mitigation measures, and habitat/fisheries offsets. I use the iClicker in class to improve student engagement. This is a large class, typically 80 -100 students.
iii) BIO 321 – Community Ecology, University of Toronto, Department of Zoology
This is a third year course that I co-taught. My main lecture topics were theory in community ecology (e.g. community assembly, island bio-geography) and multivariate statistics. Responsibilities included: lecture and instruct sixty third years students; devise and prepare lectures, readings, lab exercises, field trip, exams, and other graded material; provide effective feedback on graded material.
Previous Labs Taught
2008-2009 Organisms & Their Environment (1st year: BIO150), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.Ŧ† ‡ *
2008 Organisms & Their Environment (1st year: BIO150), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. (Summer). Ŧ† ‡
2007-2008 Organisms & Their Environment (1st year: BIO150), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. Ŧ† ‡ *
2006-2007 Aspects of Human Biology (2nd year: ZOO200), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. N/A
2005- 2006 Environmental Factors (3rd year: ZOO375), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.N/A
2005- 2006 Aspects of Human Biology (2nd year: ZOO200), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON. N/A
2005-2006 Community Ecology (3rd year: ZOO321), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.Ŧ† ‡
2004-2005 Population Ecology (3rd year: ZOO319), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.Ŧ† ‡
2004-2005 Community Ecology (3rd year: ZOO321), University of Toronto, Toronto, ON.N/A
2003-2004 Animal Behavior (4th year: ZOO4070), University of Guelph, Guelph, ON.N/A
2002-2003 Introductory Ecology (2nd year: ZOO2060), University of Guelph, Guelph, ON.N/A
Ŧ Rated by > 95% of students as effective overall.
† Rated by > 95% of students as helpful and approachable.
‡ Rated by > 95% of students as an effective communicator.
* Nominated for most outstanding teaching assistant.
NA – No rating available.