William Hardy Alexander Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching

Dr. Laura Schechter is the recipient of the William Hardy Alexander Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

C. Devereux - 01 May 2018

EFS congratulates Dr. Laura Schechter, recipient of the William Hardy Alexander Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Laura holds a PhD from the University of Alberta (2011). She is a scholar of early modern gender, court culture, politicized writing, and Shakespeare; she also works with travel and exploration texts, epistolary culture, and translations, particularly translations of Latin or French. During the years of her doctoral studies and since, Laura has emerged as one of the most highly respected instructors in EFS, with a record of exceptionally strong student evaluations and peer reviews, and a remarkable record of generous contributions to the department's support and development of teaching that have made her a vital member of this community of teachers, students, and scholars. In 2017, Laura received a Faculty of Arts Contract Instructor Teaching Award in recognition of her significant contributions to the learning experience of students and the broader learning environment in the Faculty.

Laura teaches across the EFS undergraduate curriculum, including junior English courses as well as senior classes in Shakespeare and in Early Modern writing and culture. She makes very clear that she is concerned with the learning of all her students and with developing a student-centred environment. "I view my students as didactic agents in their own right," she maintains, "as fully capable of choosing and shaping their educational experiences. My students have the ability to negotiate my pedagogical techniques, to make their assignments relevant to their interests, and to use in-class discussions as opportunities to not only express their opinions, but to listen to and build on the opinions of their peers." Her students overwhelmingly see her as an excellent instructor, observing not only her skill as an instructor and the value of the courses she teaches, but her ability to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning. "The learning environment within the classroom," writes one student, "is one of the best I have had at the university." "I couldn't have asked for a better English experience," writes another; and, another, perhaps most tellingly, writes, "I felt at home." It is small wonder that her students see her, as one observes, as "a spectacular instructor."

With last year's EFS recipient of the William Hardy Alexander Award, Dr. Lucinda Rasmussen, Laura demonstrates this department's commitment to strong and effective teaching and to providing a great learning experience for students. She will be recognized, along with other recipients of University of Alberta teaching awards at the Celebrate! Teaching. Learning. Research event to be held in the Fall. Laura's teaching in the 2018-19 academic year includes courses in Shakespeare (ENGL 339) and Medieval Literature and Culture (ENGL 325).