Expanding the boundaries of learning

The English Department’s Dr. Jessica Riddell, through her work as the inaugural Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, has positioned Bishop’s University as a leader in discussions about quality undergraduate education in Canada and around the world. 

Dr. Riddell believes in the central role of higher education to help confront the problems of the 21st century. She has led conversations across the country, designing programs and publishing articles about what it means to do undergraduate education in a way that is transformational rather than transactional. 

Demonstrating this leadership, in the wake of the pandemic, Dr. Riddell organized online learning resources and tools to better support students and professors in maintaining both high-quality learning experience and its delivery. Drawing on expertise from Bishop’s University’s Information Technology Services (ITS) resources, and in collaboration with student leaders, she created an online learning and teaching consultants (OLTC) program. The OLTC program trained students in technology, pedagogy, and mentorship to better navigate the new realities of pandemic learning. 

Student leader Georges-Philippe Gadoury-Sansfaçon worked with Dr. Riddell to engage students from all academic disciplines to help support faculty members prepare COVID classrooms. Mr. Gadoury-Sansfaçon was later selected as a 3M National Student Fellow in part for his work on the co-design of the OLTC program. 

Bishop’s also took a leading role in online learning between institutions, sharing the OLTC program across all Maple League Universities. The Virtual Maple League Teaching and Learning Center engaged participants from 98 Colleges and Universities, including major Canadian schools like McGill and Concordia, in addition to international schools like Amherst College and Harvard. 

Dr. Riddell is also steering the development of a “teaching and learning certificate” that curates professional development opportunities to create more support, mentorship, and training for professors and teaching staff.  

The Jarislowsky Chair stewards several projects and initiatives that “enhance mentorship and civic engagement”, with a focus on “supporting professors with fresh perspectives and new platforms to enhance the quality of mentorship and individualized engagement with students.”  

Dr. Riddell’s work explores questions like “how do we help faculty do things like universal design or inclusive high impact practices or experiential learning? How do we help them build their own practice and reflect?”. These questions will be answered in a forthcoming book she is writing, “Hope University: Design Hopeful and Resilient Systems for Individuals to Flourish”. 

In her five-year vision (2022-27) as Jarislowsky Chair, she outlines six challenge areas and details her proposed solutions: faculty mentorship (both institutional and inter-institutional), student mentorship, teaching innovations, research, high-impact practices, and external engagement. 

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