Marty Wall (2001)

wallAffiliation at the time of the award: University of Toronto, Psychology.

Citation: Despite being department head, Marty Wall chooses to teach large introductory classes, including one for all the first-year Psychology students that can reach 1800 students. Marty’s commitment to teaching is exemplified by his incorporating a number of prominent pedagogical and technological innovations into his teaching of these huge classes. In order to keep in touch with students and their needs he invites different students to participate in focus groups to provide him with ongoing student feedback, and the opportunity to fine-tune elements of the cause as it unfolds. He also writes individual letters to good performers and to those who have shown dramatic improvement. “These devices serve as signals to the students that, despite the size of the course, they count as individuals, their views are taken into account, and their individual performance is noticed. Students appear surprised and delighted at these forms of communication.”

Marty’s efforts to improve teaching and communication with students is not just restricted to his Psychology students. He helped found and now co-ordinates a university-wide Teaching Assistant Training Programme. He also co-developed a First Year Instructors’ Guide. He also chaired the working group which established a cross-campus graduate course on “Teaching in Higher Education.” This is a course now in its fifth year and Marty participates in its teaching.

Marty’s enthusiasm for teaching is evidenced in the fact that his student evaluations are outstanding, even for such large class sizes. As one of his students noted, “Professor Wall shows wonderful enthusiasm for the subject matter and effectively transmits that enthusiasm to the class. He makes a huge lecture hall seem quite small and unintimidating.”