Professor Steven Penney honoured with Hon. Tevie H. Miller Award for 2020

Criminal law professor earns UAlberta Law’s highest accolade for teaching excellence

Sarah Kent - 14 August 2020

Professor Steven Penney isn’t afraid to shake things up in the classroom and that principle helped earn him the 2020 Hon. Tevie H. Miller Teaching Excellence Award.

His innovative teaching methods include the flipped classroom model in upper-year courses on criminal procedure and evidence and creative assignments in his first-year criminal law class.

The flipped classroom model builds on Penney’s strengths — his ability to clearly explain material to students and encourage energetic discussions.

Students learn the core concepts before class by engaging with Penney’s online video lectures. Class time is then devoted to discussion, active learning and problem-solving, with Penney posing thought-provoking and challenging questions.

Students who are visual learners are entertained by the dynamic images on his slides, auditory learners are engaged by his carefully constructed videos, and hands-on learners benefit from the interactive elements of his class discussion.

Assignments and activities for Penney’s first-year class range from a skit in which students act out a Supreme Court of Canada case to a creative video project for which students explain a topic in criminal law.

Penney also regularly uses Top Hat, a teaching app with features such as live polling, to encourage participation and assess learning.

Outside the classroom, Penney has hosted regular Q&A sessions at Hello My Friend Cafe in the Law Centre, where students can drop by to ask Penney questions over a coffee.

“It is another tool for students to get together in a low-pressure environment,” said Penney.