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Dr. Tom Spalek Awarded 2023 Barry Beyerstein Award for Excellence in Teaching

July 05, 2023

Professor Dr. Tom Spalek, has received the 2023 Barry Beyerstein Award for Excellence in Teaching. Presented each year based on student nominations, this award acknowledges the exemplary teaching of regular faculty. Within the department, Spalek teaches PSYC 221 (Introduction to Cognitive Psychology) and PSYC 303 (Perception). 

Students of Spalek have highlighted his devotion to teaching, commenting on his enthusiasm, approachability, expertise and kind nature.

“He  is always up for a conversation. He regularly and enthusiastically offers his advice and perspective on any issue or question a student (graduate or undergraduate) might encounter. Discussions about the literature, or any academic question related to the research area, can accidentally span an afternoon! This speaks not only to his personal deep knowledge of and passion for his research area, but to his willingness to share what they knows with others” says a student nominator.

Students also commented on his ability to deliver course content. “As a course instructor, he masterfully balances complexity and clarity. While not in the classroom, he seems to constantly be optimizing explanations, and analyzing and improving his courses to best suit the current students,” says another student.

Undoubtably, Spalek has made transformative contributions to his students, shaping their intellectual growth.  “He explains that even after studying a topic in depth for many years, there is still so much to learn. This particular form of critical thinking and humility in the sciences and education are the most important lessons I learned during my undergraduate degree at SFU,” recalls another student.

Spalek's dedication and passion for teaching is exemplified by the Barry Beyerstein Award for Excellence in Teaching. In the words of one nominator, "Although I never had the chance to meet the late Professor Beyerstein, my supervisors admiration of him was infectious. It is clear his impact on the world permeates still through those lucky enough to have known him. I can say that with confidence, because I recognize many of those same qualities in Tom Spalek."