People Profiles

We're putting the spotlight on innovative teaching practices at UTM!

This page contains excerpts of interviews with faculty involved in advancing teaching practice on our campus.


Chester Scoville, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Dept. of English & Drama



Chester Scoville, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Dept. of English & DramaChester Scoville

You’ve just started an inaugural teaching fellow position at CTSI. What exactly is a teaching fellow?

That’s an excellent question! Because I am one of the first such people at the University (Charly Bank from Earth Sciences UTSG is the other one), the role is being defined as we go. So far we are participating as we can in the CTSI’s programs, such as the Teaching Assistant Training Program, and getting to know the community of specialists at the Centre and drawing on their expertise towards the completion of our projects.


Can you expand on the teaching & learning project that are you focusing on while at CTSI?

I am working on revising and developing new materials and techniques for an old course, ENG205 (Rhetoric); rather than using the textbook materials and the lecture-based technique that I have in the past, I am developing an electronic textbook/workbook for the course and building the classroom experience around active and collaborative learning.


How did this project come out of your teaching & learning experience at UTM?

Very directly! We are currently in the middle of a multi-year pilot project on Active Learning Classrooms; I’ve already run one course in these experimental spaces and am running two more this year. The idea for the project came directly out of that experience, finding out the possibilities and limitations of the space and the materials we use in it.


What does this suggest for the future of teaching & learning at UTM?

The plan currently is for the expansion of ALCs at UTM, so more and more classes will find themselves in these new spaces as time goes on. What I and a number of other people on this campus are currently working on is the development of best practices and resources for faculty and students who come to be in those spaces.


You are currently the chair of UTM’s Active Learning Working Group. What exactly is active learning?

The most basic definition is, students engaged in doing things and critiquing their own process as they do them. In other words, it’s not a foreign concept for most of us in higher education; we’ve been modeling and fostering reflective critical thinking for our whole careers. Active Learning Classrooms and other environments are just spaces that are designed in such a way as to bring those techniques into the centre of our teaching practice.


What advice do you have for professors that are interested in bringing active learning into their courses?

Although we will be developing new spaces, you don’t have to have a specialized room to do active learning. It is a style of teaching that is adaptable in pretty much any situation, even, to some extent, in large lecture halls. The best way to start is to develop some student exercises (the RGASC or CTSI can help you with this) and start incorporating them into your work when you see opportunities to do so.


What piece of advice would you give to junior faculty that are interested in teaching & learning?

Again, a great place to start would be the RGASC or the CTSI, both of which have resourceful and helpful experts on staff. If you are new teaching-stream faculty, another thing that I have found helpful is to make friends with teaching-stream people in other departments; often you will have as much in common with their experience as you will with research-stream faculty in your own department.