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Sheri Fabian

SFU Excellence in Teaching Award, 2016

School of Criminology
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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

Creating empowering classroom environments that celebrate diversity, accessibility and inclusivity is at the forefront of Sheri Fabian’s teaching philosophy.

It’s also the core reason the senior lecturer in criminology has received a 2016 SFU Excellence in Teaching Award.

It doesn’t take official acknowledgment to verify Fabian’s dedication to teaching. Just ask one of the many students lined up outside her door during office hours. They’ll tell you she has an approachable, caring teaching style.

“One of my greatest rewards is when students tell me their learning experience led to a better understanding of themselves and their view of the world, says Fabian. “Or better yet, when they email me long after a course ends to say how skills they learned in one of my classes have transferred to the workplace.”

Fabian, the associate director of undergraduate programs in the School of Criminology, teaches eight courses a year, ranging from large, introductory first-year courses to upper-division courses and graduate seminars. Regardless of the level she is teaching, she strives to push students outside their comfort zones by challenging their preconceptions and engaging them in experiential learning.

She also challenges herself, tackling provocative, controversial or potentially divisive topics in the classroom to help students learn to engage more empathetically.

“In my efforts to facilitate critical thinking skills in students, I have learned to go outside my own comfort zone,” she says. “Rather than shying away from challenging and difficult discussions, I have learned to prepare students to feel discomfort and emotion, and I warn them that they may struggle with materials.”

Her interest in the scholarship of teaching and learning extends to her research. She is co-investigator on a $10,000 project looking at the impact of emotional materials on students in large classroom settings, and will soon begin another project to involve Indigenous students in making improvements in the classroom.

“I am committed to objectives of active engagement with students, fostering supportive learning environments, and encouraging students to question, understand and apply course materials and concepts to the world around them,” she says.

“Most importantly, I continue to remind myself that teaching and learning are inseparable. To this end, my goal is to strive to inspire.”