Dave Andrews says he has always struggled with names.
The thousands of students who have taken his first-year course in Functional Anatomy would say otherwise.
Each year, the kinesiology professor learns the names of all 200 or so students in the class. He does it by encouraging discussion, paying attention when students share personal anecdotes. To get the answers to the questions they get wrong on the weekly tests in the course, he encourages them to see him outside of class time.
By the end of the semester, he not only knows all their names, he usually knows things like his students’ favourite movies, what sports they enjoy, and where they grew up.
“I want them to know they’re not just a number,” said Dr. Andrews.
This personal touch helped him win recognition this year as a 3M National Teaching Fellow. Described as Canada’s Stanley Cup of teaching, the award from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education recognizes teaching excellence and educational leadership.
Andrews’s office on the ground floor of the Human Kinetics Building is filled with mementos of the affection students have for him. A T-shirt, signed by every student in his class one year, hangs under glass in a frame. On another wall is a black-and-white illustration of a pair of skulls a student drew for him as a gift. On the table next to his desk is a crocheted pumpkin another former student made for Andrews knowing how much he loves Halloween.
“If Halloween falls on a class day, I teach dressed up,” Andrews says. This past Halloween, he wore a poodle skirt. Past years, he’s been Cruella de Vil, Cleopatra, and Katy Perry.
“Dave delights in teaching,” said Douglas Kneale, UWindsor provost and vice-president academic. “He makes extraordinary efforts to engage students, foster a sense of belonging, and help them succeed.”
Dr. Kneale nominated Andrews for the teaching award on behalf of the University. There was no shortage of students willing to write letters of support.
“Dr. Andrews acknowledges every student — whether it’s in the classroom, down the halls, or on the sidewalk,” said former student Zikra Nilam.
“Being in a classroom with Dr. Andrews is refreshing and uplifting because he radiates with passion for the subjects that he teaches. He is the professor you keep in contact with when you want to share any good news or accomplishments or when you need advice or guidance, even years after graduation, because you know he genuinely cares about you and your growth.”
The award includes a citation and an invitation to participate in retreat at Château Montebello in Quebec. This year, Andrews was among 10 recipients from across the country.
He said the university has supported him for years, thinking he had the potential to one day win the accolade. That motivated him to think more about his approach to teaching.
He has developed courses and organized retreats. He mentors other professors and speaks at forums and conferences about teaching. He does research in teaching and learning in addition to research in his discipline in ergonomics and biomechanics focussed on injury prevention.
He helps others along their career paths.
“Dr. Andrews was a true mentor, meeting with me before my first day as a sessional instructor, reminding me to make a true connection with my class, to remember back to what it was like as an undergraduate, to shift my perspective to that of the students,” said graduate student Sara Santarossa. “Our HK family would be nothing without Dr. Andrews.”
Andrews is the seventh UWindsor faculty member to be named a 3M National Teaching Fellow. Past recipients include biology professor Joseph Habowsky, philosophy professor Ralph Johnson, psychology professor Ken Cramer, law professor Donna Marie Eansor, School of Creative Arts professor Veronika Mogyorody, and nursing professor Judy Bornais.