2016 Medal Winners | francais

The 2016 CAP Medal for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Physics

is awarded to

James Fraser

"I am extremely honoured to receive this award from the Canadian Association of Physicists. I would like to thank my colleagues and graduate students for the many thoughtful discussions and in particular, I would like to thank my Queen's support staff, graduate student teaching team and the undergraduate students who have been willing to walk with me in this enterprise." winner citation

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) is pleased to announce that the 2016 CAP Medal for Excellence in Teaching Undergraduate Physics is awarded to James Fraser, Queen's University, for being a leader in adopting innovative teaching pedagogies, in developing new teaching methods, and in his scholarly approach to researching the effectiveness of his new methods. Recognized as a top, inspirational teacher by students and faculty alike, his contributions to excellence in undergraduate physics teaching span the range from engaging first-year students as apprentice scientists, to guiding upper year students in their transition to independent scientists, to actively facilitating faculty adoption of research-based instructional strategies, and to bridging the gap between practice and Physics Education Research. announcement

James Fraser (Associate Professor, Queen’s University) is committed to helping first-year students become apprentice-scientists by enabling them to build their own learning community. He has “flipped” his first-year introductory physics class, challenging his 200 students to take more responsibility for collecting information ahead of lecture so in class they can focus on understanding and applying it. Lecture topics are set by areas that students identify as problematic and class time is spent in Socratic discussion in small groups, with the flow of the lecture set on-the-fly by student needs. Fraser strives to continuously improve the learning environment through student surveys and pre-and post-testing to measure teaching effectiveness. Learning gains are more than double the results achieved with traditional lecture delivery. Students are very supportive of these changes, and Fraser has been recognized through numerous teaching awards including the Queen’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching (2012) and the Chancellor A. Charles Baillie Teaching Award (2015). Fraser’s first-year physics course also acts as a “demonstration site” for fellow faculty to observe large-class active learning.

Fraser is very active in the dissemination of research-based instructional strategies, through presentations and workshop facilitation both at Queen’s and elsewhere in Canada, USA, and Central America. Workshops are designed using the best practices used in courses: participants complete an online survey after doing an advance reading, with the topics of the workshop set by their specific concerns. In the workshop, feedback from participants through a classroom response system or flashcards allows the workshop to change on-the-fly to meet their needs.

Fraser is also a contributor to physics education research through graduate student supervision and collaboration with education researchers. Topics currently being explored include: bridging the gap between physics education research and frontline teaching, overcoming the gender gap in first-year physics, and improved training to help TAs develop into teaching professionals. nominator citation

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