External Awards

The Northeaster Association of Graduate Schools (NAGS)’s Graduate Faculty Teaching Awards recognize excellence and creativity in the teaching of graduate students with an emphasis on pedagogy, including classroom-based and/or distance learning instruction. They also recognize innovation graduate curriculum development and implementation.


Pierre Pluye: 2021 NAGS Graduate Faculty Teaching Award (Doctoral Level)

I enjoy helping students to learn. I try to share my enthusiasm for gaining new knowledge while providing explicit knowledge (demonstrations, discussions, lectures) or mobilizing tacit knowledge in an apprenticeship context (hands on exercises and workshops). I believe that students learn best when they have opportunities to reflect on their own practice, in particular when they are in contact with their peers. When facilitating group discussions, I view my role as enabling participants’ aptitudes towards rigorous thinking and opening new horizons on the diversity of perspectives and fields.

Tamara Sussman: 2019 NAGS Graduate Faculty Teaching Award (Master’s Level)

Involving graduate students in their own learning process is one of the key tenets of my graduate teaching philosophy. All social work graduate students enter the Master’s or PhD program with practice-based expertise garnered from their work in health and social service settings. I believe it is my role both in the classroom and in supervision to help students access this practice-based wisdom and use it as they engage with the theoretical and empirical scholarship associated with their graduate work. In graduate seminars, for example, I aim to expose students to major theoretical or empirical debates on a given topic and help them to locate themselves and their experiences within these debates. I do this by using reflective questioning, encouraging discussion between students, and developing assignments such as journaling to provide students with a forum for reflection on academic readings.

Victoria Talwar: 2018 NAGS Graduate Faculty Teaching Award (Doctoral Level)

I believe it is important to foster skills that enable students to be life-long learners; in consequence, I focus on the necessary skills to access and appreciate the significance of research, both theoretically and practically. My goal is for my students to have not only the academic knowledge they need for their studies, but also a grasp of how to use that knowledge to effectively communicate, write, and engage with others in academic and non-academic circles. Thus, at the end of the graduate seminars, students have a better appreciation of the subject matter as well as professional skills that will benefit them in their respective careers.

Julie Cumming: 2017 NAGS Graduate Faculty Teaching Award (Doctoral Level)

Medieval memory handbooks state that an emotional charge aids memory: visualize a tiger leaping out from behind the object you are trying to remember and the shock will keep the memory vivid. I have three ways of helping students acquire knowledge and remember it: excitement about the material, experience of the music through performance, and organizing knowledge into stories. I express my own excitement about what I teach, and it is contagious. Learning music means being able to play it back in your mind – and the best way to learn to do that is to sing it or play it. I teach a course (Music Paleography) on Medieval and Renaissance music notation, in which we sing the music from the original notation in class, before students transcribe it into modern notation. I also run a group (with both graduate and undergraduate students) that sings Renaissance music from original notation every week. Students learn repertoire, discover how Renaissance musicians experienced the music, and learn to both produce and listen to music. I have recently begun to teach graduate seminars in which students learn to improvise in Renaissance style. After initial trepidation the students wonder why they had not been taught this way from the very beginning. Stories are an essential human tool for organizing material: if you can tell a story about something, you can remember it. I work with many musicology PhD students on preparation for their comprehensive exams. I focus on getting the students to organize the material into memorable historical narratives that become frameworks into which they can insert new information for the rest of their lives.
(Photo by Owen Egan)

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Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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