Department of Geography, Faculty of Social Sciences
2012 Andy Farquharson Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching
Jessica, what do you like about teaching at UVic?
The students! Their ideas, questions and feedback energize me and push me to continually improve.
Who or what inspires your teaching (past/present/future)?
Wade Davis! He inspires me to push the boundaries of how we conceptualize the world.
I return to his Massey Lectures, published as a book called The Wayfinders, and his TED talk over and over for inspiration. For me, he's the pefect blend between researcher, adventurer and teacher.
What is your favorite teaching tip?
I try to build each of my lectures around the question – so what? It helps me ensure that I’m making the connection between what we discuss in the classroom and the broader context. As a student, I always appreciated understanding the relevance of the material I was learning.
What is your philosophy towards teaching?
I build my teaching philosophy around three goals: 1) to inspire students, 2) to invoke their curiosity, and 3) to help them develop the tools they need to become lifelong learners.
When you design a course/teach a class, what are the main goals you have for your students?
I believe that critical thinking - the ability to analyze, deconstruct and interpret information - is one of the central goals of higher education. Therefore, I aim to design course material that will help students cultivate their ability to reflect on the accuracy of an argument and develop their own, informed opinions.
What do you take away from the students you teach?
I love teaching because of the students. They expose me to new ideas, new ways of sharing information and new ways of thinking through their assignments, by talking with me after class or by sending me videos or web links. They ask the most important questions and challenge me to become a better teacher.
What do you feel has been your most successful teaching innovation at UVic?
By encouraging student participation and being respectful of everyone’s ideas, I create an open, safe, inclusive classroom where students feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns and questions. This creates a fertile environment where higher learning can occur.