Venturing into Researching our Teaching: Lessons Discovered by a Physicist

Visiting Speaker: Dr. Adam Sarty, Professor of Physics, 3M National Teaching Fellow, Department of Astronomy & Physics, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
When: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 (1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.)
Where: Cameron B-12

My entry into university teaching mirrors that of many: having been hired based on the merits of my research, my only knowledge of teaching was that of my own experience … which led to a great deal of learning on the job! This on the job learning, coupled with much needed professional development teaching workshops from SMU's Instructional Development office, AAU Teaching Showcases, and national sessions from within my own discipline (physics), led me to become aware of many potential teaching methodologies - and the decision to adopt and incorporate some of these into my own teaching. But the researcher in me couldn't help but wonder if there was merit to these methodologies, and if my students were learning more (or less?) because of my choices. During this presentation, I will use the example of my own venture into a research project aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of my favourite methodology as the platform to discuss some general aspects related to researching teaching (from the viewpoint of a "regular" otherwise other-discipline-focused researcher!).

Adam Sarty is an experimental nuclear physicist and an avid teacher/promoter of physics. He is the Associate Dean of Science - External & Student Affairs at Saint Mary's University, where he has been a professor in the Department of Astronomy & Physics since 2000.

Dr. Sarty holds an undergraduate degree in engineering physics and a Ph.D. in experimental nuclear physics from the University of Saskatchewan. Following graduation, he spent three years at the Laboratory for Nuclear Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he began a program of research into the electromagnetic structure of light nuclei and the nucleon at the MIT-Bates Linear Accelerator, the Mainz Microtron (MAMI), and Jefferson Lab. Dr. Sarty also spent five years as an Assistant Professor at Florida State University before joining the Faculty of Science at Saint Mary's.

Dr. Sarty's enthusiasm for his continued research at Jefferson Lab and MAMI is matched only by his passion for teaching and science outreach. Over the years, his teaching excellence and commitment to educational development has been recognized with various awards, including CAP's Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2008), the Science Champion Discovery Award from Halifax's Discovery Centre (2008), the Educational Leadership Award from the Atlantic Association of Universities (2008), and a 3M National Teaching Fellowship (2011).

To further his goal of communicating science, Dr. Sarty engages in many community presentations about physics each year to groups ranging from preschool to high-school age and beyond. He also co-chairs and organizes the annual Halifax regional science fair, and has chaired or served on numerous boards and committees: Canadian Association of Physicists President (2015-16), CAP Lecture Tour Atlantic-Canada Coordinator (2003-7); CAP's Division of Physics Education (2010-13), NSERC's Scholarship & Fellowships Committee for Physics (2009-12); the Canadian Institute of Nuclear Physics (2007-9); Science Atlantic's Physics & Astronomy Committee (2003-9); and, currently serves on Halifax's Discovery Center Board of Directors; the Board of the Nova Scotia Youth Experiences in Science; and is SMU's representative to the Board of Management for TRIUMF, Canada's national subatomic physics laboratory in Vancouver.

Sponsored by:
Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Visiting Speaker Grants