Physics lecturer receives award for excellence in teaching

April 02, 2024

Physics lecturer Daria Ahrensmeier has received a 2023 Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The award recognizes Ahrensmeier’s work creating dynamic learning experiences for students, encouraging them to learn about learning, assess their own progress, and transfer what they have learned to new contexts. Her commitment to student learning and experience extends to the course design process, where she engages students as partners.

“Student feedback is so valuable, for example understanding what is working for them in the course and what isn’t, and hearing what changes they would like to see. By inviting former students as collaborators in the course redesign, alongside colleagues and TAs, I am ensuring that my courses truly centre their experience. The projects are a lot of fun, plus it’s really exciting to see how dedicated the students are to making improvements that will benefit their peers. They care a lot,” says Ahrensmeier.

Ahrensmeier plans to use the award monies to attend an educational conference in her discipline. As well, she notes that being recognized with the award has been truly delightful.

“It was at the end of a departmental meeting when I found out that I was one of the winners. I had just checked my email and so when I saw the message, I showed it to my friend sitting next to me. It was really sweet because right away, he said ‘I have an announcement to make’, and it was great to experience live how my colleagues were happy for me.”

Ahrensmeier started specializing in physics education and educational development while doing postdoctoral work in non-equilibrium quantum field theory and adiabatic quantum computing. She has co-created and taught lecture courses, labs, studio physics materials and labatorials for students in physics, engineering, mathematics and other programs at universities in Canada and Germany.

As a collaborator or co-PI on several Teaching and Learning Development Grants, she has studied the effectiveness of those instructional designs and shared the findings in publications and at conferences. She has also supported over 100 faculty as an educational developer in areas such as curriculum review, teaching best practices and program development.