Faculty and instructor profiles

The well-being in learning environments network spans over 100 faculty members, professors, and instructional staff across the University. Read their stories and what they do for well-being in their learning environments.

Faculty of Applied Sciences

Kevin Oldknow publishes an “exam overview” document before each exam, and reviews it in class. This helps to alleviate some of the anxiety associated with uncertainty about the exam, allowing students to focus on demonstrating their understanding of course concepts.

Diana Cukierman facilitates active student participation and peer collaboration, incorporating kinesthetic learning activities, while promoting a friendly and respectful classroom environment.

Atousa Hajshirmohammadi spends 5-10 minutes of each class to introduce tools and topics related to well-being. View this list of strategies that create social connections, positive classroom culture, and support student personal development in an online environment.


Taco Niet creates a positive classroom culture by setting up creativity-based pre-class activities to increase student engagement and social connectedness.


Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Rachel Fouladi lets students know about opportunities to get involved on campus. She impacts student well-being by making herself available to students and letting them know she cares.

Lisa Droogendyk provides instructor support by inviting students to attend a “student hour,” held in an easy-to-find and vibrant campus location. She emphasizes that this is a welcoming opportunity for students to ask questions about the course.

Sarah Walshaw has students select current news articles that relate to her course content, and facilitates a discussion on how course topics relate to real world issues. View her In the News activity.

Coleman Nye has taken a proactive approach to inclusivity by using these tips for creating an accessible learning environment.

Sheri Fabian recognizes inclusivity by creating class guidelines with her students to respect difference and create a safe place for discussion.

Elise Chenier recognizes the importance of compassion in teaching and creates an inclusive classroom by adapting her teaching styles to reflect the diverse needs of her students.

Mary Ellen Kelm uses narratives and role plays to help students relate personally to the content of her history courses and reflect on their own values and experiences.

Lara Aknin uses a group-generated study guide assignment that encourages students to work effectively in teams while building professional skills.

John Bogardus provides students with a reality check reflection tool, which encourages them to think about their values and abilities.

Nicky Didicher creates optimal challenge by using “learner-centered teaching” and contractual evaluations, in which students choose their assignments, the weighting of their assignments, and the due dates.

Evan Tiffany works with students to collaboratively set deadlines, granting extensions where warranted, and enabling students to manage their time effectively.

Danielle Murdoch creates a positive classroom culture that highlights the values of open communication and kindness. She shares messages via Canvas announcements, reminding students about the normal experiences of stress, promoting mental health resources, and encouraging students to engage in self-care. 

Jen Marchbank has taken a flexible approach to online education to support student success. Read her story and tips and view a video on their student-centered philosophy

Suzanna Crage creates opportunities for real-life learning by inviting students to design research questions based on individual interest. She also creates positive classroom culture by inviting students to present project findings in a celebratory poster event facilitating a peer-to-peer process of non-graded awards and recognition.

Leith Davis uses what she refers to as an Embodied Humanities (EH) approach to reduce stress, engage students, build social connection, and apply real life learning to courses on eighteenth-century literature.

Beedie School of Business

Tara Immell creates optimal challange by using an informational interview assignment to help students navigate job uncertainty.

Kathleen Burke and her colleague Brett Lyons co-created a checklist and resources for inclusive classrooms that are being used to foster inclusivity within the Beedie School of Business.

Thomas Culham incorporates journaling and meditation in his classroom to encourage students to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence, which is important for ethical development and well-being.

Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology

Andrew Hawryshkewich creates real life learning by having industry partners present real world challenges to students, who then work in groups to propose potential solutions as part of a course assignment.

Herbert Tsang encouraged civic engagement by having students design the SFU App as an assignment for his Interactive Arts and Technology course.

Jennesia Pedri embeds links to resources within the feedback she provides students on their work. This enhances students’ awareness of services and supports that can enhance their learning and growth. View: template for feedback that supports well-being and learning.

Elisabeta Aida Osian is an avid believer in a holistic approach to higher education. Her students are deeply involved in the teaching process and help to balance between work and self-care. 

Check out the “work-window” time management method and digital tools resources.

Faculty of Education

Sharalyn Jordan dialogues norms for respectful classroom discussion as part of the first or second class. These create a positive classroom culture and are posted online to re-visit as needed.

Julia Lane uses performative inquiry as an opportunity for students to engage with, question and work through the kinds of structures which directly impact them. Students did a performative inquiry on the rise in international student tuition, for example.

David Zandvliet creates real life learning by taking learning beyond the walls of the classroom and helping students connect their learning to their career aspirations.

Dan Laitsch intentionally designs assignments and rethinks assessment that optimally challenges students and creates a flexible learning environment.

Faculty of Environment

Tara Holland creates opportunities for real-life learning and social connection with her students by virtually showcasing their work with CityStudio Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board. View her SFU News story.

Leanne Roderick embeds short, optional, mental wellness breaks in synchronous classes (including posture checks, visualizations, and 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercises). Students have shared that these mental well-being breaks have improved their focus, sense of connection to their classmates, and feeling supported in their learning.

Faculty of Health Sciences

Jenny Scott uses a two-minute write and reflect activity to help create social connection and positive classroom culture by having students reflect on and share their experiences with the course material.

Rochelle Tucker does “everything possible to encourage interaction” among students. This initial social connection in first year classes acts as a support for student well-being throughout their degree program.

Mark Lechner creates flexibility for students by inviting them to share feedback with him throughout his courses using an anonymous comment card.

Paola Ardiles creates real life learning by having students work in collaboration with partner organizations such as City Studio through service learning.

Kate Tairyan offers Skype office hours. She believes that fostering positive, enjoyable and engaged, learning experiences within her classroom contributes to student well-being.

Cecilia Sierra-Heredia promotes a positive classroom culture and flexibility by seeking feedback from students through First Day and Midterm Questionnaires surveys. These short questionnaires explore what is working for the students and what needs to change for them to be successful in the course.

Faculty of Science

Peter Ruben uses team based learning to create social connections among students, and build a resilient and supportive learning community within his class.

Diana Bedoya creates optimal challenge by being proactive in her course design and communication with students in order to minimize students’ uncertainty around expectations for her courses.

Stephen Brown's teaching philosophy makes him approachsable and sets a supportive tone in class. He believes student well-being can be impacted by both the content of his course and the environment he creates in his classroom.

Adam Dyck creates an inclusive classroom by supporting the declaration of self-identified pronouns in a “pronoun round” as part of introductions at the beginning of the semester. See his Pronoun Etiquette Cheat Sheet.

Brenda Davison teaches large classes and creates a positive classroom culture by making an effort to learn student names. She arrives early to lectures to speak individually with students to check in and seek their feedback.

Kevin Lam facilitates 5 min well-being activities at the start of his lectures to share well-being related resources and activities with students.

Anne-Kristina Arnold encourages students to take SFU’s Bouncing Back Resilience and Well-being Course online, and supports them to reflect on their personal goals for the semester.

Petra Menz provides instructor support by inviting students to meet with her individually for office hours where she provides mentorship both personally and professionally.

Ivona Mladenovic creates flexibility by having students write some of the exam questions as well as choose their assignment deadlines.