Richelle Monaghan is an associate professor in Laurier’s departments of Community Health and Biology, the vice dean of the Faculty of Science and the university’s newest Teaching Fellow.
Throughout her 10 years at Laurier, Monaghan has consistently put students at the core of her teaching practices and been a mentor to fellow faculty members looking to do the same. She’s known for finding fun and innovative ways to engage students in her Biology, Community Health and Health Sciences courses, including using Snapchat filters to help students learn the muscles involved in facial expressions and creating videos to guide anatomy students through the musculoskeletal system.
Monaghan has won several awards for her teaching and mentorship, including the Laurier Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 2017; the Sam Drogo Technology in the Classroom Award in 2020 and Gail Jenkins Teaching and Mentorship Award in 2017, both from the international Human Anatomy and Physiology Society; and Laurier Merit Awards in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
A: I’ve always been attracted to the quote attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes that “a mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.” I think what appeals to me is not only this dynamic sense of a change in some physical way, which occurs neurologically when we build synapses, for example, but also of a before and an after that occurs with learning. Specifically, this quotation conveys the transformational nature of learning and implies that we as individuals are forever changed by its effects.
My teaching philosophy incorporates the joy I have for peoples’ hard-earned transformations and their efforts toward building mastery. I believe we can support and encourage peoples’ transformational learning by assisting them with developing their own narrative of the why and how to acquire knowledge, then encouraging the use of that knowledge, along with their own lived experiences, to problem solve, ideate and innovate. I feel incredibly fortunate when students allow me to support and witness their learning processes.
A: Being a Teaching Fellow is a way to both share and learn. I see it as an elevated opportunity to collaborate with my colleagues who have evolved their teaching strategies through experimentation and experience. Likewise, I can share the insights I have developed and researched over the years. I believe some of the most innovative ideas can come from considering how interdisciplinary practices can elevate teaching, learning and assessment strategies.
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