Fall Teaching Innovation Lab


Looking for inspiring ways to try innovative, evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning? Join us at our next session. 


The Fall Teaching Innovation Lab is an invited speaker event taking place each year before the start of the Fall semester to help inspire innovative teaching approaches and help instructors prepare for the upcoming term. 

What to expect 

Interactive keynote session, dialogue, panel discussions

Typically offered in August.

Past Events

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Exceeding Expectations: Empowering Students Through Partnership in Teaching and Learning

Dr. Aleksandra Zecevic, 3M National Teaching Fellow, Western University Health Sciences

How much creative space are we, the educators, willing to share with our learners? How can we involve students in partnerships in teaching and learning? Through examples of experiential, community engaged and international learning, this keynote aims to inspire you to think, explore and consider opening more shared space for creative process in your classroom.

Dr. Zecevic will share examples of student empowerment through courses where she implemented 1. Experiential learning through simulation (Aging Body course), 2. Partnering with students on weighting course deliverables in a community engaged course (Gerontology in Practice), 3. Nurturing partnerships over multiple courses (Health Issues in Aging), and 4. Building and maintaining international teaching and learning partnerships (Aging Globally: Lessons from Scandinavia).

Through a story of her efforts to improving how students perceive the elderly, Aleksandra has carefully curated opportunities for students to fully immerse themselves into continuous learning about aging throughout their degree. This was an intentional and methodical process buttressed by the three key principles of her philosophy of educational leadership: being innovative, collaborative and fear-free. As one of her students reflected: “Nothing is more empowering than believing you are a valued member of the classroom because this mentality translates to believing you are an asset to society.”

View the video recording of the presentation (log in with your SFU computing ID)

Faculty Panel: Dr. Daria Ahrensmeier, Lecturer, Department of Physics, Simon Fraser University

Daria Ahrensmeier is a teaching faculty member in the Physics Department who splits her time between Surrey and Burnaby, first-year and advanced students, and teaching and course/curriculum development including applied education research.

In Surrey, she teaches PHYS 140 and PHYS 141 in the Studio format, which she thoroughly redesigned for the 2022/23 academic year to include more authentic activities and assessment that also give the students more creative freedom.

In Burnaby, Daria teaches and further develops courses in SFU’s quantum program – a good match for her research background in non-equilibrium quantum field theory and adiabatic quantum computing. She is currently leading an effort to expand education in fundamental quantum physics and quantum information that is modern, rigorous, and accessible to students in all areas of mathematical science and engineering.

Daria uses instructional techniques that are informed by Physics Education Research and regularly does her own research into the effectiveness of teaching and learning in her courses. She believes that listening to students and creating a productive learning community (which includes having fun!) is just as important as expecting commitment to learning and rigor.

Beyond SFU, Daria serves as the Chair of the Education committee for QuantumBC and has been collaborating on the development, implementation and assessment of workshops and courses for this growing community of researchers and grad students. She just ended her four-year term as Chair of the Division of Physics Education of the Canadian Association of Physicists and plans to focus more on Quantum Education.

Faculty Panel: Dr. Leith Davis, Professor, Department of English, Simon Fraser University

Leith Davis is a professor in the Department of English and the Director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University. She the author of three monographs (Acts of Union: Scotland and the Negotiation of the British Nation [Stanford, 1998]; Music, Postcolonialism and Gender: The Construction of Irish National Identity [Notre Dame, 2005]and Mediating Cultural Memory in Britain and Ireland From the 1688 Revolution to the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion Cambridge, 2022]) as well as co-editor of three volumes of critical essays (Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism [Cambridge, 2004]; Robert Burns and Transatlantic Culture [Ashgate 2012]; and Scottish Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century [ASLS 2021]. A 2020 Amundsen Fellow at SFU, she teaches  a range of courses in eighteenth-century literature and media history, utilizing a media lab approach to involve students in activities such as ballad-singing, making and writing with quill pens and engaging in letter-press printing. She also co-ordinates an international group of instructors who are exploring a pedagogical approach known as Embodied Humanities.

Faculty Panel: Dr. Bernhard Riecke, Professor, School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Simon Fraser University

Bernhard is professor at SFU-SIAT, where he leads the iSpace Lab, a transdisciplinary team designing and investigating emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality for positive impact on individuals and society. To do this, his research combines multidisciplinary research, design, and artistic approaches and immersive virtual environments to investigate how humans perceive, think, behave, and spatially orient in real and computer-mediated environments.

He teaches classes on immersive environments/Virtual Realitygame designhuman-computer interaction and cognition, and quantitative research methods. He designed and taught an intensive “Semester in Alternate Realities” (SIAR) course as a 15-credit semester-long (2019) and 6-credit summer intersession course (2023). Bernhard’s pedagogical approach invites weekly student feedback, which is integrated into an agile course framework, fostering a dynamic, responsive learning environment. He promotes a collaborative atmosphere, encouraging students to share ideas and perspectives, enhancing community and mutual respect. Utilizing an 'ungrading' framework in SIAR, he empowers students to take ownership of their learning, transforming them into active collaborators rather than passive recipients of knowledge. Bernhard is also a TEDx speaker , TEDxSFU general chair, and has coached over 30 TEDx speakers.

Faculty Panel: Dr. Henry Daniel, Professor, Faculty of Communication, Arts and Technology, Simon Fraser University

Daniel began his career as an actor with James Lee Wah's San Fernando Drama Guild and continued in Port-of-Spain with Derek Walcott's Trinidad Theatre Workshop. He was also a founding member of Astor Johnson's ground-breaking company, the Repertory Dance Theatre of Trinidad and Tobago. In the USA he was a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre Workshop, Pearl Primus African American Dance Company, Frank Ashley Dance Company, Asakawalker Dance Company, the Bernhard Ballet, and soloist with the José Limón Dance Company of New York. In Germany he founded and directed Henry Daniel and Dancers while continuing to work as a member of TanzProject München, Tanztheater Freiburg, and Assistant Director, Choreographer, and Dancer for Tanztheater Münster with Birgitta Trommler. In the UK he founded and directed the performance group Full Performing Bodies, which he still maintains.

Henry attended Naparima College in Trinidad, the Boston Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School in the USA, and has an MA in Dance Studies (Sociology of Dance, Choreology, Choreography) from City University, The Laban Centre, London, as well as a Ph.D. in Dance, Performance Studies and New Technology from Bristol University's Department of Drama: Theatre, Film, Television in the UK. He is Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts and Principal Investigator for the Tri-Council funded Black Creativity In The Arts, Sciences, Technology And Business (2022-2024). His impressive track record on the international scene has led and continues to lead to advances in cultural knowledge by bringing to bear the perspectives and skills of the artist/scholar. Through his collaborations with researchers from the fields of science and engineering, he enables and contributes to technological innovation. As well, his ongoing preoccupation with issues of identity and diaspora and its roots in a colonizing process begun in the late fifteenth century allows him to engage with the issue of how contemporary bodies perform, and hence transform, their sense of place, space, and identity. 

Henry Daniel is a 2020 FCAT Research Excellence Award recipient a 2021 Distinguished SFU Professor awardee and a 2023 Chancellor's Distinguished Service awardee.

Indigenous Knowledge Systems: Enhancing Teaching and Learning Experiences in Post-secondary Institutions

Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, President, First Nations University of Canada

Teaching and learning through Indigenous perspectives, pedagogies, and methodologies entices all our senses, requires reciprocal relationally that creates and contributes to renewal, restoration, re-energization, and rejuvenation, has one actively engage in “coming to know” self in relation to creation and the cosmos, and engage in dynamic creativity as one anticipates seven generations into the future. For Indigenous peoples, learning and creativity are spirits, so they are very much alive. How do we revive, spark, and nurture these entities in our personal and professional lives?

In our world today, innovation, an outcome of creativity, involves ‘weaving’ into practice the vision that Indigenous Peoples (as far back as 1613) had of good and right relations with newcomer and settler peoples. These concepts include ethical spaces, treaty principles, and parallel development practices. These concepts were foundational to the post-secondary Indigenous strategies that Ottmann has helped lead. In this session, Dr. Jacqueline Ottmann, will share stories of the complexities, wonder, and beauty that comes from weaving Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.

*This event was supported by SFU's Aboriginal Strategic Initiative and included a traditional blanketing ceremony for Dr. Ottmann.

View the video recording of the presentation (log in with your SFU computing ID)

Frankly Teaching: Race, Racism, Discrimination and Decolonial Pedagogy as if It Matters from a Teaching and Learning Stance

Dr. Njoki Wane, Professor and Chair, Social Justice Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Discrimination is not new and is not unique to Canada. It is a universal phenomenon. The interlocking systems of oppression and discrimination are embedded in our structures, policies, politics and social interaction. We are all impacted. Acknowledging that any form of discrimination hurts is our first step. Acknowledging that different forms of discrimination have social, political, economic and personal consequences is crucial for a frank discussion of race and various intersectionalities, such as gender, sexual orientation, class, religion, age, language, etc.

Having a frank and open discussion is not easy but is necessary if we are to tackle issues around discrimination and social justice from a decolonial perspective. This workshop is a continuation of a discussion that has already begun at SFU’s Centre for Educational Excellence. The goal of the workshop is to revisit the discussions on systemic racism, anti-Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism and decolonizing tools of education. The aim is to come up with strategies on how to engage our students in decolonizing pedagogies using Indigenous ways of knowing. Employing decolonizing tools such as storytelling and proverbs, the participants will participate in teaching and learning from a decolonial stance.

Learning and Relationships in (and Beyond) Our Courses

Dr. Peter Felten, Associate Provost, Learning and Teaching, Elon University, United States

Decades of research demonstrate that student-faculty and student-student interactions are primary factors in student learning in higher education. Our courses—whether face-to-face, online or something in between—can and should be relationship-rich environments that enhance learning, motivation and belonging for all students. This interactive session—based on nearly 400 interviews with students, faculty and staff from across the United States—will focus on practical, research-informed approaches to cultivate educationally powerful student-faculty and student-student relationships in our courses.

View the presentation slides and recorded webcast (log in with your SFU computing ID)


Faculty, instructors, graduate students, and staff at SFU

Date and Time

Usually, late August or early September before classes start


In-person, online

Upcoming Sessions

For a complete list of CEE events, view our calendar.

View calendar