I teach a wide range of topics and particularly enjoy animal behaviour, ecology, evolution, and statistics! I share my enthusiasm readily when teaching and relate concepts to sports, psychology, sociology and economics. Relating course material to current topics engages and adds value to what students learn.
I have taught guest lectures in animal behaviour, population ecology and community ecology. I enjoy relating concepts such as foraging decisions to human food preferences or population growth to world demographics. Animal behaviour is a prominent aspect of my research interests so teaching it is a pleasure. My current research projects use population models to investigate food web dynamics and evolution under climate change so I am also comfortable teaching theoretical approaches. Because evolution is at the root of biology I find teaching it as enjoyable as it is essential.
Finally, I thoroughly enjoy teaching statistics because I have come to realize what a powerful (and essential) tool it is for all sciences. I have had the privilege to run a statistics course (labs) in addition to workshops, providing consultations and mentoring. One of my on-going goals is to continue developing activities to facilitate learning statistics and make it fun! Another goal is to integrate statistics to other courses in order to engage students and help them see its value.
I enjoy the feeling of grasping a new idea and aim to share this feeling when teaching others. I constantly work towards my teaching objectives: to engage students, promote active learning, and develop their learning skills. I also believe that each audience is unique and gather feedback regularly to personalize my teaching style.
Engagement is one of the best ways to make learning proactive and I try to achieve this every time I teach by relating course material to the students’ interests. For example, getting summary statistics on themselves piques the students’ curiosity in addition to grow their network and encourage teamwork. Testing hypotheses about topics that concern everyone such as health also engages students (e.g. does vitamin C help against the common cold?)
I believe that promoting active learning is key to building a solid education. This is especially important for learning concepts such as evolution or hypothesis testing. I find that participatory activities are often ideal for this purpose. For example, preying on coloured candies can simulate the evolution of cryptic colouration. In statistics courses, I have made classes construct probability distributions by flipping cowry shells and find that students can read and explain these figures instantly afterwards. These activities help students construct knowledge, and allows them to rebuild it at a later time.
There are times when learning involves mostly memorization. In these cases, I use repetition but provide verbal information, images, and text. I adapt my teaching method to the learning outcome, but whenever possible, I favour the use participatory activities.
In addition to teaching the material for specific courses, I strive to help students develop learning skills. I offer them the opportunity to learn through different methods such as proposing ideas, searching for information by themselves, learning by trial and error, critiquing studies, etc. Everyone has a preferred learning style, whether it is straight memorization, hands-on, using logic, etc. I do as well and am aware that learning through different styles can feel challenging. Education research shows that the more learning styles students are exposed to, the better they perform. This also makes us better learners and this will be useful in other courses, future jobs, and in life.
While I appreciate the value being challenged, I also understand that it can feel uncomfortable or scary. This is why insist on creating a safe learning environment. There is no such thing as a stupid question in my classes, my office, or anywhere else. I sometimes create a safe environment by allowing students to provide anonymous answers on a shared spreadsheet. This allows students to challenge themselves without the fear of showing others that they made a mistake. Teaching assistants can also provide a safe learning environment, and I value their work highly. I ask them for feedback and try to get them engaged as well; everyone benefits from it.
I believe in incorporating formative evaluations to find out which aspects of the course or learning style students find more challenging. I use techniques such as “the muddiest point” to quickly assess their progress and keep these anonymous to allow free speech. Quizzes and assignments provide additional feedback on specific concepts. I believe that attributing some marks is often required to motivate students to complete them. However, these should be a small proportion of the course because at this stage, they should be given the chance to make mistakes and learn. If they grasp all the material at the end of the course, I consider them successful so I prefer attributing more grades to final exams.
- Laboratory coordinator for Introduction to biostatistics, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, Canada (2012).
- First steps: Using R and RStudio, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, Canada (2012).
- An introduction to R workshop: statistics and programming (with Alex Chubaty) Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada (2009, 2010).
- Lecture in community ecology (Bernard Roitberg), Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada (2010).
- Scientific consultation for elementary school teachers and public outreach in science fairs, Eclairs de Sciences, Montreal, (2006-2009).
- Teaching assistant for Statistical Methods I (P Dutilleul and B Pelletier), Department of Plant Science, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (2004-2006).
- Teaching assistant for Behavioral Ecology, Population Ecology, Introduction to Biostatistics, Organismal Biology, and Biology of Algae (LA Giraldeau, E Maly, M Maly, J Grant). Biology Department, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada (1998-2001).
TRAINING IN TEACHING
- Instructional Skills Workshop. Teaching and Learning Services, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada (2012).
- Effective teaching. Teaching and Learning Services, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (2008).
- Training in scientific consultation for school teachers. Eclairs de science, Montreal, Canada (2005-2008).
- Teaching science. Tomlinson Graduate Teaching Resources, McGill University, Montreal, Canada (2005).