2016 Outstanding Teaching Award Winners
Steve Engels of computer science, Kyoungrok Ko of East Asian studies and Melanie Newton of history are this year’s recipients of the Faculty of Arts & Science Outstanding Teaching Awards. Established in 1993, the awards highlight excellence in teaching. Recipients are selected based on nominations by peers and students. David Cameron, dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science, presented the awards on April 14th.
Steve Engels, Computer Science
Steve Engels has supervised 60 fourth-year students in his project course, as well as 44 teams on more than 210 projects — and this is only in the past five years. One of the terms that comes up frequently with respect to Engels is “coach.” Whether students are creating video games for seniors, integrating computer science into Nuit Blanche or working with industry, Engels guides while allowing room for self-direction, exploration and risk taking. In the course of teaching them computer science, Engels supports the development of their skills as members of a team as well as entrepreneurship and leadership abilities — transferable skills that will help ensure their success in whatever future path they choose.
Kyoungrok Ko, East Asian Studies
Kyoungrok Ko is a specialist in language education with an unquenchable zeal for teaching Korean. Since joining U of T in 2010, he has taught all four levels of Korean language and completely transformed the language program. Ko revised the curriculum, adapted the inverted-classroom model, created extracurricular activities like the Korean Speech Contest, instituted a TA-training program and interviewed every student seeking to enroll in first-year Korean. While Ko credits the recent increase in demand for Korean language instruction at U of T to a growing interest in K-pop and Korean pop culture generally, his colleagues and students place much of the credit closer to home.
Melanie Newton, History
What is most striking in Melanie Newton’s nomination is the impact she has had on students. One describes feeling “broken open to a new reality” by the content of one of her courses. Others report changing their academic focus as a result of their interaction with her. Many more have benefitted from her curricular improvements. While serving as director of Caribbean studies, Newton oversaw a deep rethinking of the broad aims of the program which resulted in significant renewal. Through consultation with colleagues and students she expanded the program to reflect the broader Francophone and Hispanophone Caribbean in ways that enrich student experience and reflect the linguistic and historical complexity of the region.