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Psychologist named finalist for TVO’s Best Lecturer competition

BEST LECTURER: Psychology professor Steve Joordens has made the top ten list of best lecturers. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

by Eleni Kanavas

Professor Steve Joordens of the department of psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough is one of ten faculty members from across the province to be named a finalist for TVO’s Best Lecturer Competition.

Joordens and professor Monika Havelka (biology) from U of T Mississauga are the two finalists representing the University of Toronto. The others among the top ten finalists are: Bruce Meyer (Laurentian at Georgian College); Eleanor MacDonald and Virginia Walker (Queen's); Sohail Rashid (Ryerson); Rupinder Brar (UOIT); David Gray (Ottawa); Nadia Habib and Karolyn Smardz Frost (York).

“I feel both proud and thankful,” said Joordens after learning he had been named a finalist. “I really do care about my teaching, and I try hard to connect with my students and make them interested in the course material, and the process of education in general.”

Joordens’ lecture will be broadcast on TVO's Big Ideas program on Saturday, March 6 at 5 p.m. It is titled “You Can Lead Student Knowledge, But How Do You Make Them Think? Challenges to Teaching Critical Thinking Skills within University Settings.” Television viewers across the province can watch and vote on all of the finalists’ lectures starting in March. A panel of judges will also rate the lectures. Voting closes on April 11 and the winner will be announced on April 17.

This is the fourth time Joordens has been nominated and his second time making the top 10 list. He describes it as “truly an amazing honour and an opportunity to show a wider audience how seriously we take teaching at the University of Toronto Scarborough.” He is the recipient of numerous awards for his teaching and pedagogical innovations, including the provincial Leadership in Faculty Teaching (LIFT) award and the 2009 National Technology Innovation Award.

“On behalf of the campus community, I’m pleased to congratulate Steve Joordens on this recognition of his excellence as a teacher,” said Professor Rick Halpern, dean and vice-principal (academic) at the University of Toronto Scarborough. “So many of our students have expressed how much they enjoy his lectures and have benefited from the quality of his teaching. Professor Joordens is known as one of our most energetic and dedicated teachers. We’re proud of all of our faculty members who deliver excellence in teaching and research on a regular basis, and we were delighted to have a record number of nominees from our campus for best lecturer this year.”

Although the field of psychology focuses on the human attempt to understand itself, Joordens explained that psychology is a challenging science because of how hard it is to directly see, measure, and manipulate things like memory, attention or prejudice compared to other sciences such as biology and chemistry.

When asked about his approach to teaching, he describes it as “geeky provocative. It’s geeky in the sense of really loving what I teach and trying to spread that love to my students,” Joordens said, “and it’s provocative in the sense of daring students to think, to embrace their educational opportunity and to make the most of it.”

Joordens believes that a strong education supports intelligent decisions in life which lead to success no matter how a student might define it. “If students see the value of their education and decide to maximize it,” he said, “the rest of their life will be better for it.”

The lecture series is sponsored by TD Insurance Meloche Monnex, and the winning lecturer’s institution will receive a $10,000 scholarship. This year marks the largest competition to date, with more than 300 lecturers nominated from across Ontario.

This year, TD Insurance Meloche Monnex is generously sponsoring a new contest for viewers who go to to cast their vote online. Participants will be entered to win a $5,000 grand prize pack which includes: a laptop, HD camcorder, digital SLR still camera, an iPod touch, and an iTunes gift card. A new weekly contest during the voting period will also allow viewers to enter to win a portable reader.

Watch for more details on the campus web site or visit for more information.

© University of Toronto Scarborough