Brock prof wins prestigious teaching award

Brock University Recreation and Leisure Studies Professor Timothy O’Connell has won a teaching award from an association representing 17,000 faculty members in Ontario.The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations announced its 2014-15 Teaching Award recipients Tuesday morning and O’Connell was one of five to make the list. “The University is delighted to receive the news that Prof. Tim O’Connell is a recipient,” said Anna Lathrop, Vice Provost, Teaching and Learning at Brock. “He epitomizes student-centred learning both within and outside the classroom. He is a distinguished researcher in the field of teaching and learning scholarship, most notably in the area of experiential education.” O’Connell said the award is the result of having good students to work with.“It’s more of a testimony to the students and just how much they engage in things. It makes it easy,” he said, adding that the University has given him the support needed to do “good and different things.” O’Connell launched the Brock Basecamp program in 2010 that takes first-year students on multi-day outdoor excursions involving hiking, canoeing or rock-climbing. The trips are led by upper-year Brock students or recent grads. “It’s a way for the incoming students to make friends, which is one of the biggest concerns for students coming from high school to university,” he said. “It’s also a way for the student leaders to share information on things like making healthy decisions, physical activity, and drug and alcohol awareness.” Lathrop said the Basecamp program has had a national impact.“It’s a stellar example of an orientation program that has a significant positive impact on students’ sense of community and campus affiliation. As a result, many other universities have sought to emulate this example.”O’Connell, who has taught at Brock since 2006, also makes experiential learning a priority in his classes. “In all of the traditional classes I teach, I try to have an experiential learning component. We do a little bit of theory and knowledge, but we also try and make it real through practical, hands-on experience,” he said. “Prof. O’Connell is a champion of experiential learning, and believes the pursuit of knowledge is as much about doing as thinking,” said Andrea Buchholz, Chair of OCUFA’s Award Committee. “It is perhaps no surprise that he is taking learning beyond the classroom to astounding new heights.”O’Connell will receive his award at a ceremony Oct. 24 in Toronto. Other recipients were: Greg Evans, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Toronto; Prof. Vincent Hui, Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University; Pippa Lock, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, McMaster University; Trent Tucker, College of Business and Economics, University of Guelph.

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