On Friday, May 11, Associate Professor Tim Rawlings was awarded the Cape Breton University Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Award at the 2018 President’s dinner. The award is presented to a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in education, provides a commitment to enhanced student engagement and a dedication to teaching improvement.
“There are a lot of great teachers at CBU, so it is really humbling to be singled out by former students and to be recognized as having influenced them in a positive way,” says Dr. Rawlings. “Ultimately, as educators, this is what we try to do, so it is gratifying to know that we are succeeding.”
As a Professor of Biology, as well as Department Chair, Dr. Rawlings is making a significant impact on his students. His teaching style focuses on engaging his students and enhancing their learning experience each day.
One way Dr. Rawlings achieves student engagement is by taking his students out of the lab or classroom and into the field where they can gain hands-on experience. Through field activities, such as the exploration of mudflats, rocky shores, salt marshes and optional weekend field trips, Dr. Rawlings offers his students different approaches to learning.
“These field activities really seem to help to break down barriers between professors and students and also help students connect what they learn in class to the local environment around them,” says Dr. Rawlings.
An additional piece of Dr. Rawlings’ student engagement includes the encouragement of critical thinking. He challenges his students to integrate what they have learned from his classes into their other courses, saying that this practice is vital to their development as scientists.
When asked the most important life lesson he tries to instill in his students, Dr. Rawlings focused on openness. “I want them to be open to new ideas and experiences. By being willing to take courses outside one’s focal subject area, students sometimes will discover a topic or discipline that rocks their world, and that ultimately steers them toward a career path that they are much more passionate about,” says Dr. Rawlings.
Congratulations Dr. Rawlings! Thank you for your enthusiasm and dedication to our students.