SFU Gallery of Teaching Excellence | Back to gallery home page >>

Diana Solomon

SFU Excellence in Teaching Award, 2014

Department of English
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

This post is reprinted from the SFU News blog. Read the original post here.

Have you ever had the opportunity to do speed dating in your English class? You’ll get a taste of what it might be like with professor Diana Solomon.

But rather than trying to find your better half, you’ll be trying to find the better writer in you as you present your introductory essay paragraph to the class and receive fast-paced feedback from fellow students.

This ability to engage her students in creative and inventive ways makes Solomon a top instructor, earning her a 2014 SFU Excellence in Teaching Award.

“It's a great honour to win,” she says. “At the same time, my colleagues in English are such wonderful teachers that I’d say the majority of them should also be considered for this award.”

Solomon, who specializes in Restoration and eighteenth-century British literature, says it is important to incorporate student interaction, especially in large lecture classes.

“Lecture classes conjure up images of a professor rambling on and never leaving the podium while students fall asleep,” she says. “Needless to say that’s not what I want.

“I view learning as a full-bodied exercise where class participation develops and reinforces content.”

One way she nurtures this is through a “think-pair-share” technique.  

“It gives students more confidence to speak up by giving them an opportunity to first exchange ideas and validate them with each other,” she says.

Says one awards nominator, “Students are highly appreciative of her well-organized course plans and her ability to bring unfamiliar and historically distant material alive through thematic emphases, humour, enthusiasm and participatory activities.”

Recently, Solomon learned that one of her students told her friends they need to “take a Diana class” before graduating.

“My thought was I need to keep on working on my teaching so I don’t disappoint her friends,” she says. “That is my aim for the years ahead.”