Jacqueline Smith of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts & Science has been recognized with an Early Career Teaching Award.
“Learning something new can be uncomfortable, and I believe that good teaching supports students in moving through that discomfort,” says Smith, an assistant professor, teaching stream, in the Department of Computer Science. “In my classes, I aim to provide students with that support in many ways, such as by normalizing the frustration that comes with learning to program, and by creating opportunities for them feel more connected to me and to their peers.”
Smith's efforts to improve the student experience include focusing on active learning in large introductory courses and piloting, with Professor Alán Aspuru-Guzik, a new course on applied computing for students from other scientific fields. She has also worked to improve the process for admission to computer science at U of T and, with colleague Jennifer Campbell, developed second-year learning communities to help students connect with each other and with the computer science community.
“We know that access to computer science is not equitably distributed in high school and earlier,” Smith says. “It is important to me to ensure that students with no prior exposure to the discipline are set up for success in my courses.”
Smith also works to support other teachers, guiding instructors as they moved courses online, designing and delivering training for teaching assistants and helping colleagues implement best practices in inclusive teaching.
See the Department of Computer Science story: