Albert van Akker

"I was also excited to get an opportunity to earn a degree from SFU, with SFU faculty, without all of the travel that would otherwise be needed."

Program/Degree: Curriculum and Instruction: Post-Secondary (Victoria) M.Ed.

Chair of the Architectural Trades Department and Carpentry Apprenticeship Instructor, Camosun College.

Please tell us why you chose the Faculty of Education at SFU for your studies.

The biggest appeal was the cohort model; that I would be going through the program with a group. I find that very motivating, because there is an accountability inherent to working with colleagues. I was also excited to get an opportunity to earn a degree from SFU, with SFU faculty, without all of the travel that would otherwise be needed.

Who is a faculty member you have enjoyed working with and why?
I really enjoyed working with Dr. Larry Johnson. His role in the program expanded well beyond anyone’s expectations at the beginning, and he handled significant increases in responsibility and workload with grace and elan. His keen intellect and wealth of experience in the public K-12 education system permitted him to provide us with considerable perspective about our students. I am glad to be finished my degree, but I’ll miss working with Larry.

How has this program impacted the way you approach your profession now?

I have learned a lot about the many philosophical underpinnings and cultures of curriculum that frame and define the educational context in which I work. I have a greater understanding of my students' educational experiences to date, which helps me to relate to them and more effectively mediate the new material that they learn in my program.

I was surprised at the diversity of opinions about education and training and blends of the two that exists in the educational world. So many ideas, so much merit, and so much controversy about the best way ahead. It is a fascinating field of study.

What has been most rewarding about your experience in this program?

A significant broadening of my understanding of the breadth and depth of the educational universe and my small place in it.

I am more likely to see other sides of a particular issue, and am slower to judgement than before. In the classroom, I am more creative in finding new ways to explain old concepts. Of course, they are old to me, but new to my students, and it can be easy to forget that at times.

What was your research interest/concern for your comprehensive exam?

I looked at student exam stress and its mitigation through the authorized use of student-created "crib sheets" during weekly exams. My paper was titled: "Casting Lots, Tying knots, and Counting Fingers – Vygotskian Symbolic Mediation as a Strategy for Reducing Exam Anxiety".