Skip to main content Skip to local navigation

Blog 250

Blog 250

New Faculty Reflects on her Professional Growth

By Gloria Orchard

Over the last year or so, as a new faculty member, I have had the opportunity to participate and learn through a variety of teaching courses and workshops offered at the Teaching Commons here at York University.  I found the Instructional Skills and the Course Design Intensive workshops gave me the opportunity to assess my teaching skills and obtain an understanding of designing a complete and organized course by creating learning outcomes using Blooms taxonomy and incorporating active learning and creating fair assessments.  Along with the useful material relevant to each course and workshop I attended, another learning experience has been working and discussing teaching practices with the participants in these courses and workshops.  I enjoy hearing other people’s perspectives and experiences on teaching and sharing my experiences (ex. active learning techniques and assessment methods).  It is my way of brainstorming and thinking about the endless possibilities of teaching practices out there.  Reflecting on different teaching practices provides a basis for developing a course with a more universal design approach.

      Through my instruction I look for ways to guide, inspire, and motivate students to want to learn and understand the content of my courses. This is an on-going hard challenge and there is no easy answer. The path to learning is variable and each individual student has their own learning process. Students must realize the effort of learning is a personal commitment. As their instructor I aim to guide them through the learning process, using in-lecture activities to practice problem-solving skills, encourage group discussion, demonstrations to help visualize and relate the concepts to real life, and provide them with the skills they need to continue learning on their own. I hope students see this and put in the effort to continue learning outside the classroom. Sometimes it is not evident at first that the skills developed during an undergraduate degree will become very useful in the future paths a student will decide to take. One of the most challenging aspects of teaching is trying to engage students during a lecture and most importantly leaving a positive impression to continue learning outside the classroom.

       As I continue to learn more about teaching skills, pedagogy and course design through these courses and workshops I continually adapt and experiment with my teaching skills to enhance student learning (active learning, laboratory experiences, assessment methods).  Developing effective learning outcomes provides a summary of the course content and also guides me through the term and helps me plan how and what I teach in my lectures. As I become more aware of the pros and cons of different types of teaching tools available, like generative artificial intelligence, and how they impact learning, I am also now more comfortable with the type of assessment methods I design for what students need to learn in my courses. Finding a balance on how to teach course content and maximize student engagement is one of my personal challenges as I continue to journey through my own learning process on teaching and learning. I foresee many more courses and workshops on teaching and learning in my future as I continue to assess and learn more about teaching practices and how students learn!  

About the author

Gloria Orchard is an Assistant Professor in the department of Physics and Astronomy.  Her post-secondary education includes a BSc in Applied Physics from York University followed by an MSc from the University of Toronto in Medical Physics. During her PhD, also in Medical Physics, from McMaster University, she was awarded a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).  Before returning to York University, she completed an NSERC postdoctoral fellowship and was a sessional instructor in the field of radiation science at Ontario Tech University.  During her PhD and post-doctoral fellowships her main research interests were in microdosimetry and radiation detector development.  Her strong interest in teaching developed during her PhD studies as a Teaching Assistant for a variety of physics courses followed by the development and instruction of several radiation science courses as a course director during her postdoctoral studies.

Headshot of Gloria