psychology professor Krebs

Krebs honoured for teaching and leadership

April 5, 2007

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By Marianne Meadahl

He scores high marks in the classroom but Dennis Krebs, SFU's latest 3M teaching fellowship recipient, likes to think his role in reshaping the "bigger picture" trumps the honour.

The prestigious national award recognizes both teaching excellence and educational leadership.

Krebs, a psychology professor and former department chair, devoted the past five years to the formation and follow-through of SFU's landmark curriculum initiative.

"The reach of this initiative and its impact on learning here at SFU is so much broader than anything I could do as an individual teacher," says Krebs. He headed the review of SFU's undergraduate curriculum and later, a task force to implement recommendations.

The campus-wide undertaking saw the revision of more than 85 existing courses and the development of about 30 new courses, designed to increase students' abilities to write, appreciate different ways of looking at the world, and understand quantitative reasoning.

"I like to think that this award reflects the hard work that has gone into this endeavour on the part of the entire campus community," he says.

In the classroom, however, Krebs admits he wasn't always a teaching star: "My first lecture course was an utter failure. I tried in vain to model the styles of the professors I admired. But my worst fears were realized when the course was featured in the students' ‘blue book' under the heading, ‘For masochists only.'"

Becoming an effective lecturer entailed a large number of small changes. "I try to make it clear to students that my goal is to help every single one of them improve their knowledge and thinking abilities in deep and enduring ways," he says. "That I am willing to make the commitment necessary to achieve this goal, and that I expect a commensurate commitment from them in return."

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