Celebrating uOttawa's exceptional TAs in 2023
Teaching Assistants (TAs) play a crucial role in the learning journey of all University of Ottawa students.
Each year, uOttawa’s Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS) recognizes exceptional TAs that go above and beyond their normal duties to provide top-notch guidance and support to students. The 2023 Excellence Award for TAs saw a record number of nominations—a testament to the commitment and care shown by uOttawa TAs across the board.
This year, with the sheer volume of qualified candidates, the decision was harder than ever.
Get to know the recipients of the 2023 TA Excellence Award below.
Bridging theory and practice
With six years (over 1500 hours) of TA experience under his belt, Ahmed Mohamed Elsayed Omara has demonstrated an immense commitment to bridging the gap between theory and pratice. His contributions span both undergraduate and graduate courses over a range of subjects. Ahmed has made a significant impact on the learning experience of his students. In courses such as Circuit Theory I and II, he not only ensures that students grasp the technical concepts but also helps them understand the practical applications.
Among Ahmed's notable achievements is his ability to use lecture demonstrations to showcase real-life applications of electrical components. By incorporating hands-on examples, he enables students to connect theory with practice, ultimately improving their understanding and performance. Ahmed also goes the extra mile by providing timely and actionable feedback to help students enhance their technical skills. His dedication to creating inclusive teaching materials and conducting regular office hours further contributes to a seamless transition to online learning.
"Ahmed has been a guiding force for students in this lab and has helped us not only grasp and apply the concepts we have learned through the course but also makes connections for us between theory and real-world applications," says one of his student nominators.
Ahmed’s commitment to pedagogy goes beyond his TA duties. He is pursuing a Certificate in University Teaching and has participated in several TLSS workshops on a range of subjects.
Dedicated support in Civil Engineering
Emre Insel, a Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering, has been a TA for multiple courses over the past three years. His commitment to his role and his dedication to supporting students have been exemplary. In courses such as Earthquake Engineering and Reinforced Concrete Design, Emre has spent numerous hours grading assignments and tests. His attention to detail and thoroughness in grading ensures fairness and accuracy in assessing students' work.
His faculty nominator, Dr. Murat Saatcioglu, commented that “Mr. Insel is a conscientious TA who dedicates his time selflessly to teaching for the benefit of students. His teaching style, knowledge of the course material, which is enriched by the practical engineering expertise that he acquired prior to joining uOttawa, and professional approach in every stage of teaching make him an outstanding TA.”
Beyond grading, Emre has also contributed to the development of online course materials. In the midst of the pandemic, he played a pivotal role in converting the APA3121 Human Motor Skill Development course into an online format. His efforts in scheduling assignments and creating online tests have facilitated a seamless learning experience for students. Emre's commitment to providing high-quality education even during challenging times is commendable.
Creating an exceptional learning environment
Julia Hussein, a TA in the Faculty of Health Sciences' School of Human Kinetics, has made a significant impact on the learning experience of students in across eight courses, including Muskoskeleter Anatomy and Psychomotor Behavior Laboratory. Her dedication to cultivating an exceptional learning environment is evident in her interactions with students. Julia takes the initiative to ensure that her laboratory section provides a supportive and engaging atmosphere for students.
Darrin Wijeyaratnam, staff nominator, highlighted the traits that make Julia special: confident communication, compassion, and dedication to professional development.
Julia's contributions extend beyond the laboratory. She played a crucial role in converting the course into an online format during the pandemic. Her expertise in creating online tests, scheduling assignments, and establishing discussion boards has facilitated a smooth transition for students. Julia's commitment to creating a positive and inclusive learning environment has earned her the respect and admiration of both students and faculty.
“Being a returning 40-year-old alumnus, I have learned under hundreds of instructors both academically and professionally,” remarked one of her student nominators.“ Julia ranks at the very top of all of them and exemplifies what an educator should strive to be.”