Congratulations to this year’s College and University winners of our

2020 SALTISE Best Practices & Pedagogical Innovators Award!

It gives us great pleasure to announce the names of the following instructors who have won this year. These individuals were selected from an impressive list of instructors who were nominated by their peers and students. We are delighted that they are part of the SALTISE community and look forward to their continued pedagogical innovations and inspirational mentorship of students and peers alike.

University Winners

Alice Cherestes – McGill University 

Dr. Alice Cherestes exemplifies excellence in pedagogical innovations, by transforming the Freshman program in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at McGill University – through her teaching (many courses), through her leadership as a program director, and through her innovations.

Dr. Cherestes’s work has been recognized numerous times. She won the Teaching Excellence Award, and more recently the Dean of Students Award for Excellence in Undergraduate and Academic Advising. She pioneered the implementation of many active learning strategies at McGill, including the IFAT (Instant Feedback Assessment Technique), the two-stages exam in Organic Chemistry (combining individual with group assessments), and use of clickers for improved student engagement. She also built invaluable seminars focusing on crucial topics relevant to undergraduate life. Her most recent initiatives focused on organizing activities catering mental health, bridging school life and residence life.

Whether using the Active Learning classroom at Macdonald Campus, or her use of creative assessment strategies, Dr. Cherestes provides a framework for students to navigate their courses in a manner that they understand and learn, and they do this in collaboration with the instructor. She sees the teaching and learning landscape as one of partnership, building a ‘community of practice’ which is infusing throughout the campus and across McGill. In a larger sense, Dr. Cherestes isn’t only a teacher, but also a true ambassador, forging a meaningful legacy of academic excellence, at McGill University.

Laura Pavelka – McGill University 

Since joining McGill University in 2012, Dr Laura Pavelka, has been instrumental in developing student-centered pedagogical models in Organic and General Chemistry classes. She is an engaging, enthusiastic, and dedicated lecturer, and has consistently received excellent teaching evaluations. In 2017, Dr. Pavelka was awarded the Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Teaching at McGill, a highly prestigious and selective award given to educators who have demonstrated excellent teaching capabilities and ability to motivate students.

Dr. Pavelka has had a powerful effect on undergraduate teaching in the Chemistry department at McGill having taught approximately 10,000 students to date. She constantly adapts the course content, lecture material, and learning resources in-line with the students’ needs and latest technological developments. As a committed member of the pedagogical community, she works closely with other educators at McGill in the AAU STEM project to determine and implement the most effective teaching strategies for large enrolment freshmen classes. As a member of the SALTISE S4 chemistry group, she is working with multiple other local educators to improve myDALITE, an open source web-based platform for enhancing student learning.

Over her career, she significantly improved the quality of our general chemistry and introductory organic chemistry courses by updating course material, modernizing lab procedures, improving coordination and flow between courses, setting up interdepartmental resources for our students, and providing additional support for “at risk” students.

In addition, Dr. Pavelka acted as local section chair for the Montreal branch of the Chemical Institute of Canada from 2014-present bringing together chemists and chemical engineers within the greater Montreal area.

College Winners

Phoebe Jackson – John Abbott College

When Dr. Phoebe Jackson came to the physics department at John Abbott College, it was rare for a newly hired teacher to have any formal teacher training, so her degree in mathematics teaching made her stand out. Right away, she quietly implemented many practices, such as collaborative problem-solving, that are now recognized as being strongly supported by evidence from the Learning Sciences community. There was initial scepticism at the College that these approaches would be effective within the context of college physics instruction. However, these reservations were proven to be groundless. Her effective use of Active Learning (AL) pedagogies in the physics classroom have provided real-world templates that facilitate student learning. In turn this initiative has successfully encouraged faculty in the Physics Department and others at John Abbott as well as members of the education community to ease into adopting Active Learning strategies for the classroom.

In terms of best practices, Dr. Jackson’s course designs are organized around clear competency-based learning objectives and incorporate evidence-based practices including: collaborative group work, two-stage quizzes, pre-class collaborative text annotation, visual discussion forums using Visual Classrooms and many more.  For her  pedagogical innovations, one only has to look at her contributions to the SALTISE S4 physics team, the ECQ funded organizational arm of SALTISE, in developing new materials for the myDALITE platform, and contributing to the design of CourseFlow, an interactive app that allows for instructional design at three levels of pedagogical planning. Her contributions to this S4 team are helping to bring about the important changes and adoption of active learning in physics departments across the Anglophone network of universities and colleges.

Ian MacKenzie – Dawson College

Ian MacKenzie is a pillar at Dawson College when it comes to promoting academic excellence through innovative pedagogies and supporting our academic community as they bring these practices into the classroom.

As founder and project lead for the Dawson Learning Communities (LC) initiative, Ian has created a broad movement that uses evidence-based approaches to enrich teaching and learning through collaborative and cross-disciplinary efforts across the college. Building on an initial three-year pilot phase that saw more than two-dozen courses integrate learning across disciplines, Ian has begun an ambitious five-year plan for the development of additional projects in Science, Social Science, and in Certificates / Special Areas of Study. 

Ian MacKenzie continues to demonstrate leadership in bringing about innovative change in a way that has allowed faculty to adopt, share and adapt pedagogical improvements to their teaching. As the founder and director of the Dawson Writing in the Disciplines (WID) initiative, since 2010 he has coordinated the Faculty Writing Fellows (now numbering 86 teachers in total, and facilitated by Jeff Gandell since 2018); led eight different WID Department and Program Projects; hosted the WID Spring Institute every year since 2012; and delivered numerous tailored workshops and presentations.  Through these WID activities, hundreds of Dawson instructors have been introduced to evidence-based approaches to writing, critical thinking and active learning.   For more, please see:

Finally, his leadership in the promotion of academic excellence, the use of innovative pedagogies, and in the support of academic communities also extends well beyond Dawson. He is a regular presenter at the SALTISE conference, and he has been an invited speaker at local colleges and universities as well as at numerous conferences nationally and internationally.