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Education a quest for discovery: award-winning professor

Knowing and trusting the strengths of each teacher candidate in her classes is what drives education professor Kara Smith.

In nominating Dr. Smith for the Alumni Award for Distinguished Contributions to University Teaching, acting associate dean Geri Salinitri said she most appreciated Smith’s creative approach to assessment.

“She varies her approach with each course and constantly reflects on the value of the assessment to the learning in the classroom,” wrote Salinitri. “Her style is dynamic and fluid and her belief in students’ talents directs their success.”

Kara SmithSmith, editor of the 2007 book Teaching, Learning, Assessing: A Guide for Effective Teaching at College and University, believes in helping her students to enter their careers with a thirst for continued discovery. She structured one of her courses as a game in which the students’ quest for knowledge posed challenges and rewards.

“Although the foundational course content remains the same, the conceptual framework of learning by gaming is substantially unique enough to engage and motivate the 21st century learners,” says Smith.

And she believes in continuing that learning through life. One of her former graduate students, Deanna Pecaski McLennan, wrote in support of her nomination: “Although it has been years since I graduated I still receive correspondence from her regarding an event or assignment that she feels I would be interested in. It’s very meaningful to have an educator like Dr. Smith, who continues to provide support and encouragement long after the graduation ceremony has ended.”

That dedication will be recognized during the morning session of Convocation on Wednesday, June 12, when the University of Windsor Alumni Association confers the award on Smith.

Established in 1987, the alumni teaching award recognizes excellence in all areas of teaching, including classroom presentation, curriculum development, versatility, teaching methods, and student support. In addition to Smith, chemistry professor Philip Dutton and English professor Dale Jacobs will receive the honour during the University’s 99th Convocation ceremonies this week. Click here for a list of past recipients.

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