UPEI faculty member receives 2023 AAU educational leadership award
Dr. Stacey MacKinnon, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Prince Edward Island, was presented with the Association of Atlantic Universities’ (AAU) 2023 Anne Marie MacKinnon Educational Leadership Award at the AAU’s fall meeting on September 20.
One of three AAU regional awards for excellence in teaching and educational leadership, the Anne Marie MacKinnon Educational Leadership 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. Dr. MacKinnon was nominated for the award by Dr. Sharon Myers, interim dean of the UPEI Faculty of Arts, with letters of support from faculty members Drs. Ann Brathwaite and Brenton Dickieson.
“Dr. MacKinnon’s sustained and significant record of curricular innovation, team building, collegial leadership, and mentorship has shaped the culture of teaching and learning at UPEI and beyond,” said Dr. Myers in her nomination letter. She noted that Dr. MacKinnon has been awarded all four internal awards for teaching and educational leadership given by UPEI.
Questions are the key to Dr. MacKinnon’s pedagogical approach and her “legendary” impact on teaching and learning at UPEI and beyond, Dr. Myers said. Drawing upon inquiry-based learning approaches enacted in various K-12 settings, she is a leader in the reformulation and adoption of those techniques in university education. The “Curiosity Project,” which she introduced into one of her classes years ago, has become a model for student-focused, inquiry-based, curiosity-driven learning.
Through workshops and presentations at UPEI, she shared the results of her Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)-informed and carefully assessed adaptations of this approach. She coached and guided colleagues who adopted the pedagogy, mentored them through the processes, built teams of peer instructors, and produced class after class of students who rediscovered their innate senses of curiosity and the excitement it can bring to research, the conceptualization of questions, and the production of knowledge.
As well, Dr. MacKinnon led the development of “University 1020: Inquiry-Based Learning,” a multi-section course that gives first-year students an opportunity to ignite their curiosity and explore questions that are meaningful to them while developing many skills incorporated into a university education.
“This is an important foundational experience for students, and the University’s adoption of 1020 as one of three foundation courses illustrates the significant respect and trust placed in Dr. MacKinnon’s pedagogical leadership,” said Dr. Myers.
The impact of her leadership in curiosity-driven learning has grown far beyond UPEI, said Dr. Myers. In addition to numerous presentations at SoTL conferences, she has led workshops and interactive sessions across the Atlantic region, in the United States, and in Europe. She has worked with Montessori schools, leadership, and organizations, and has charted the path for an inquiry-based learning high school curriculum at a private school in Charlottetown.
Among her many notable achievements are her recently co-authored book, Reigniting Curiosity and Inquiry in Higher Education: A Realist’s Guide to Getting Started with Inquiry-Based Learning (2022); several peer-reviewed articles in the scholarship of teaching and learning; and grants including, with her co-author, significant funding from SSHRC and the Taylor Institute.
In addition to her teaching and other responsibilities, Dr. MacKinnon currently serves in three formal educational leadership roles at UPEI—as chair of the Senate Committee on the Enhancement of Teaching (SCENT); a member of the Vice President’s Working Group for an Institutional Framework for Online Learning; and as one of three leaders of a mentorship group for tenure-track faculty in Arts at UPEI.
“Dr. Stacey MacKinnon is clearly deserving of the Anne Marie MacKinnon Award. She is a recognized leader, regionally, nationally, and internationally in inquiry-based learning,” said Dr. Myers. “Her leadership in this field extends from the university to high school classrooms and curriculum and, through her publications and workshops, to many audiences across the globe.”
Dr. Greg Keefe, interim president and vice-chancellor of UPEI, congratulated Dr. MacKinnon on her award.
“Dr. MacKinnon has a remarkable record of achievement in the development of teaching and learning here at UPEI and beyond,” said Dr. Keefe. “It is fitting that she be recognized with the AAU’s Anne Marie MacKinnon Award for her commitment to educational leadership. Congratulations, Dr. MacKinnon!”