Academic Director’s March Update

There are many new and exciting initiatives to highlight. CTL is happy to announce the creation of a new UBC Okanagan Teaching Fellow program recognizing 10 individuals that broadly contribute to our teaching and learning community and CTL initiatives. Teaching Fellows are recognized annually based on their current, ongoing, and planned work, and recipients receive $2000 to fund their teaching related activities. The deadline to apply is April 1st with details available on the website.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) activities are critical to improving the quality and efficiency of programs and delivering excellent student learning experiences. SoTL is also a key component for promotion and tenure for Educational Leadership Stream faculty. UBCO has existing programs to support SoTL including ALT-2040 and Faculty-level funding and awards. In partnership with the Institute of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISoTL) at UBC Vancouver, CTL is funding a pilot program to provide access to the SoTL Seed Grants and SoTL Dissemination Fund for UBCO researchers. The SoTL Seed Grant program provides access to SoTL specialists to help researchers with various SoTL activities including data collection, analysis, survey construction, and ethics applications, and $500 for other expenses. ISoTL has a long history of supporting SoTL research with these grants. The call for proposals will be released in May. Hiring for a SoTL specialist at UBCO is in process and qualified Ph.D. students may apply to the job. UBCO researchers may now also officially apply to be a member of ISoTL that will connect researchers on both campuses.

Teaching has never been harder with the lingering challenges of COVID requiring balancing in-person and online instruction, decreased student engagement, and increased time for instructors on preparation, student accommodations, and assessment, especially with the rise of AI authoring tools like ChatGPT. CTL will continue to distribute information and recommendations on best practices and host events and workshops on key areas. Unfortunately, as the teaching difficulty has increased, our recognition of excellent instructors has not kept pace. Up to 2018, UBCO had a teaching Honour Roll that recognized excellent instructors based on student experience surveys. It was discontinued due to reasonable concerns about the need for an integrative approach to the evaluation of teaching but was never replaced. Although some Faculties have teaching awards and recognitions, overall we need to improve how we recognize our instructors for the excellent work that they do. One possibility would be to keep the general idea of the Honour Roll (top 10% of instructors) and have the individual departments/Faculties award these recognitions during their merit/PSA review process. I would be interested in ideas and thoughts from the community on how we can better recognize our people. Email me at