A Northern Medical Program (NMP) faculty member has been honoured for his dedication to teaching not once, but twice, this spring. Dr. Sean Maurice recently received both the 2019-20 Robert W. Tait Annual Lecture on Implementing Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), and a 2019-20 Killam Teaching Prize from the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Dr. Maurice joined the Northern Medical Program in 2007 as a senior lab instructor. He now also holds the roles of MEDD Site Director – Years 1 and 2 (NMP) and NMP Assistant Director of Histology and Affiliate Senior Instructor, UBC.
“Sean has been a leading member of our teaching faculty and has made huge contributions across all areas of the pre-clinical curriculum,” said Dr. Paul Winwood, Associate Vice President, NMP, UNBC; and Regional Associate Dean, Northern BC, UBC Faculty of Medicine. “He is highly valued by our students for his teaching support and mentorship.
“Additionally, he founded and leads the highly successful Healthcare Travelling Roadshow, has been a facilitator for the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at UNBC, and has taken leadership roles both with the NMP and the UBC Faculty of Medicine’s MD Undergraduate Program. We are so proud of his achievements.”
The Robert W. Tait Annual Lecture on Implementing Teaching Excellence Award recognizes excellence in the delivery of teaching and learning activities at UNBC. As part of this honour, recipients are asked to deliver a special lecture on an aspect of pedagogy which reflects their personal teaching experiences and philosophy. In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Maurice’s presentation, entitled “Teaching and Learning as Adventure: Across Silos and in Community” will be postponed until the fall.
The Killam Teaching Prize recognizes UBC faculty who demonstrate excellence in teaching. Recipients are nominated by students, colleagues and alumni. Dr. Maurice is one of only 22 faculty members from across UBC to receive this year’s prize.
“It’s humbling to have received both of these awards from UNBC and UBC respectively. It means that both institutions value teaching as well educational leadership,” said Maurice. “And also that teaching is not something static, but something that requires effort, sincerity, and ongoing attention. Teaching at many levels and in many venues is important to ensure the institutions meet the needs of their various stakeholders, and their social accountability mandates to the community.
An avid outdoorsman, Maurice compares some aspects of teaching to outdoor adventures such as mountaineering or backcountry skiing. He says using that metaphor encourages preparedness, a willingness to embrace uncertainty and a desire to create a space where students feel empowered.
“Comparing a classroom to avalanche terrain might seem odd, but in a classroom, an instructor never fully knows what will happen and nor do students. Students ought to be motivated and curious to learn new material, and instructors try to help by presenting a problem or a real-life application to hook their interest. It needs to be appropriately challenging, but safe enough for them to engage with the material – without undue risk of embarrassment or failure – and it needs to allow them to apply their knowledge to solve problems.
In his off-time, Dr. Maurice can be found pursuing self-propelled adventures in the mountains, in the woods, or on the water, both on his own, and with his wife and three children. He has successfully scaled El Capitan in Yosemite, and Mt. Robson in the Canadian Rockies.
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