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UNB professor receives AAU Educational Leadership Award

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Oct 18, 2021

Category: UNB Fredericton

Dr. Magdalen Normandeau

Dr. Magdalen Normandeau of UNB Fredericton has been named the 2021 Anne Marie MacKinnon Educational Leadership Award recipient by the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU).

The award recognizes an individual who significantly influences teaching practice and the quality and breadth of student learning experiences beyond their own teaching assignment and context. AAU member universities propose nominees for the Teaching Awards program and recipients are selected by the AAU's Coordinating Committee on Faculty Development.

Dr. Normandeau is a senior teaching associate in the department of physics at UNB Fredericton and has served as coordinator of teaching and learning services in the Centre for Enhanced Teaching & Learning. She employs an educational leadership approach she calls “stealth leadership.”

“I enjoy helping to bring about beneficial change by creating the conditions for such change to occur rather than by leading big projects and being in the spotlight,” says Dr. Normandeau. “My approach to fostering engagement in teaching is to create the conditions for intrinsic motivation to flourish, rather than to focus on extrinsic motivators. With faculty members, a notoriously independent-minded bunch, I believe that this focus on change through internal motivation is key; it may be slow, but it is long-lasting.”

To be an educational leader, Dr. Normandeau believes a person must lead by example, and serve as a guide to learning rather than a fount of knowledge. In her own work, Dr. Normandeau reads research papers and distributes relevant ones to her colleagues, as well as shares ideas and resources she gets from teaching and learning conferences. In addition, she started the tradition of inviting physics education researchers to UNB as colloquium speakers in her department.

Dr. Normandeau is also working to implement a variety of research-based teaching practices and she makes a point of talking to her colleagues about them.

“All this helps to create a culture where good teaching matters and where thinking carefully about teaching is valued. Gradually, there has been a shift in attitudes and practices in our department.”

She received UNB’s Neil Scott Educational Leadership Award in 2020, which acknowledges those individuals who have taken a leadership role and have developed and improved the teaching culture within or beyond the university.

“As educators, we have a responsibility to share knowledge and ideas – not only with future generations, but also with our colleagues,” says Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle, UNB’s president and vice-chancellor. “Dr. Normandeau is a shining example of an educator dedicated to advancing scholarship at all levels. Congratulations to Magdalen on this tremendous achievement.”

“Great teaching is at the heart of what we do as universities and it is important to my fellow presidents to annually recognize and honour our top teachers,” said Allister Surette, Recteur, Université Sainte -Anne and chair of the AAU.

“I'm hoping that the AAU Educational Leadership Award will lead to more opportunities to do the type of work that I find so rewarding: supporting professors in their development as teachers, nurturing their enthusiasm for effective teaching, and building supportive teaching communities,” says Dr. Normandeau.

The AAU represents the 16 universities in Atlantic Canada and serves as an advocate for the important role Atlantic universities play in preparing future leaders of our communities, in path-breaking research and innovation and in contributing to the economic prosperity and quality of life of the Atlantic region.

Media contact: Kelsey Pye