by Chris Putnam
Two educators in the College of Arts and Science have been recognized by the University of Saskatchewan for their achievements in teaching.
Faculty member Dr. Raj Srinivasan (PhD) and sessional lecturer William Robertson were presented with teaching awards at the 2019 Celebration of Teaching and Research hosted by the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning on May 3.
Raj Srinivasan: Provost’s College Award for Outstanding Teaching
Raj Srinivasan, a professor and head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is the College of Arts and Science’s winner of the 2019 Provost’s College Award for Outstanding Teaching.
Srinivasan’s students describe him as passionate about his subject, fair in his evaluations and caring toward his students.
The math and stats professor is known for using real-world applications and examples in the classroom to help his students engage with the material.
“A formula (in his class) was never just a formula—it was a tool that allowed you to model business situations, make informed decisions, and solve problems,” wrote a former student in one of Srinivasan’s business mathematics courses.
“To be an effective teacher, one needs to motivate and excite students and show the relevance of the material they are learning,” wrote Srinivasan in a statement of his teaching philosophy. “A classroom is an interactive theatre where I engage the students and perform to the best of my ability.”
Srinivasan makes use of technology such as video lecture capture and pre-recorded YouTube tutorials to help his students grasp key concepts. In grading assignments, he emphasizes the process of learning rather than the results.
Outside of the classroom, Srinivasan has led several initiatives to enhance learning and improve his department’s educational outreach. These include devising a new math placement test and pre-calculus review course to bolster the skills of incoming students who are unprepared to study first-year calculus.
Srinivasan also oversaw the development of an outreach program that brings math activities to rural and First Nations schools, and designed and taught a new calculus course in the Edwards School of Business that dramatically improved the success rates of students studying calculus in that college.
After nearly 30 years of teaching courses at the introductory level through the graduate level, Srinivasan says he still strives to improve.
“I am still constantly learning and introducing new methods of teaching with every course I teach,” he wrote.
William Robertson: Sylvia Wallace Sessional Lecturer Award
William Robertson, a sessional lecturer in the College of Arts and Science’s Department of English and in the College of Education’s Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP), is the winner of the 2019 Sylvia Wallace Sessional Lecturer Award.
Robertson, an alumnus of the College of Arts and Science (BA’77, MA’81), has taught in ITEP for more than 20 years, focusing on creative writing and introductory English courses.
“I motivate my students through my own enthusiasm—I love stories and I love teaching, so I enter the classroom every day with an excitement to shake them up over Shakespeare or persuade them to put aside all prejudice over Jane Austen,” wrote Robertson in a statement of his teaching philosophy.
The previous recipient of a University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Teaching Excellence Award, Robertson is praised by his students for his ability to bring his subject matter to life, his sincere feedback on assignments and his willingness to put in extra time outside of class.
As a non-Indigenous teacher of primarily Indigenous students, Robertson says that his experiences have taught him a lot about other worldviews and other ways of telling stories. He incorporates contemporary First Nations poetry and literature into his classes and encourages students to find the universal themes these works share with the Western canon.
The author of five books of poetry, Robertson works to help his students discover their own voices in his creative writing courses.
“I encourage students to tell their stories, which they’re very unsure of, intergenerational messages having told them their story isn’t worth hearing. But they are. They’re amazing,” he wrote.
Robertson has compiled the best poems by ITEP students into two published anthologies: Indian Teacher Education Program (ITEP) Poetry Anthology and Where I’m From: ITEP Creative Writing, 2005–2013. The second of these anthologies is currently taught in university and high school classrooms.
“I’ve learned just about everything from teaching,” wrote Robertson. “From the moment I stepped in front of a class, I knew where a great deal of my passion lay and that spreading the word about stories was important.”