Tamara Kelly

Tamara Kelly

SALTISE Contributor

York University, Toronto, ON


Education and background
Education and background

Postdoc Science Education, Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC

Ph.D., Human Genetics, McGill University, Montreal, QC

Grad. Dipl., Ecotoxicology, Concordia University, Montreal, QC

B.Sc., Biology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON


I’m interested in implementing best practises in active learning and helping other faculty to do so. In my classroom, I use a number of methods to get students to engage with the material, including Peer Instruction, worksheets, minute papers (e.g., muddiest point or making connections). Whenever possible I try to use collaborative techniques that still hold individuals accountable for their learning – e.g., Peer instruction, two-stage exams, two-stage tutorials, peer review. In my classes, I encourage students to prepare ahead of class through readings, online videos, and use pre-class quizzes to help them keep on track and let me know what they’re struggling with.


I’m currently involved in a few projects as a lead or collaborator. Not all of these are directly linked to active learning, but all impact it in some way or another. I am the lead on a project to establish a first year integrated science program that will not only help students to establish a better understanding of the connections across science, but promotes evidence-based teaching practices, and helps us to understand where students struggle to integrate concepts. For a few years I’ve been working to promote metacognition in my classes and in 2015 joined a project that is looking at helping first year students establish metacognitive practices. Teaching is a shared practice and is best accomplished through collaboration and conversations with colleagues. Ongoing is my work in promoting the sharing of best practices among faculty. Through journal clubs, workshops at York University,my work with the Ontario Consortium of Undergraduate Biology Educators (oCUBE), and the intraprovincial ecology project, I hope to spark enthusiasm for using evidence-based teaching practises that will help our students learn more and produce more enjoyable experiences for both students and faculty.

  1. Creating an first year integrated science program to promote student understanding.
    Creating an first year integrated science program to promote student understanding. (Project lead. Co-leads: Drs. Lauren Grant and Peter Cribb). Although the program is currently smaller, we hope to scale the model up to much larger classes. As well, the program acts as the hub in a hub and spoke model for transmitting best teaching practices back into the various departments.
  2. Intraprovincial ecology project
    This project is two-fold working to promoting metacognition in first year, as an ongoing intervention strategy to help identify and help at-risk students. Dr. Paula Wilson is the lead for the project.