Mike Atkinson (1998)

atkinsonAffiliation at the time of the award: University of Western Ontario, Psychology.

Citation: Michael Atkinson is well known, not only to the community at the University of Western Ontario for his outstanding teaching ability and his leadership in educational development, but to those across the country who are concerned with improving the standard of post-secondary teaching. He has demonstrated with talent, commitment, and an array of well-honed pedagogical skills, that it is possible to give students an outstanding learning experience in even very large classes. One of the most difficult jobs he does is teaching a first-year psychology “Superclass” of 1,200 students that has become a model of its kind at the University of Western Ontario and other institutions. For a class of this size, student feedback has been extraordinarily positive. His use of materials, multi- media presentations, and techniques for engaging students with the course content stand as a model for what can be done with a large class at the introductory level. In 1996, Michael was one of only four professors in the entire University to be singled out by the University Students’ Council for a student-voted award of excellence in teaching. Among many other tasks, he assumed a difficult and controversial position in the sexual harassment office dealing with students who have suffered assault and other indignities. He is currently the Chair of the Senate Review Board Academic, the highest court of appeal for students at the University, where the most difficult issues and problems appear. By caring deeply about the quality of campus life, he ensures that all within the University are treated ethically and justly.

In addition to his outstanding performance as a classroom teacher, Michael has worked tirelessly to help others improve their teaching abilities. He has served for many years as a peer consultant with Western’s Educational Development Office. He also teaches and facilitates workshops for Western’s faculty members and teaching assistants on a variety of topics ranging from teaching at the university level, teaching effectiveness, large-class teaching techniques, micro-teaching, and the use of multimedia in the classroom. He has become expert in the design of evaluation instruments for large classes, in the use of the latest technologies for such instruction and in teaching others how to employ those technologies, and in working as a coach or mentor for individual teachers. He is widely sought after as a speaker in universities, colleges and professional organizations throughout Canada and the United States.