Alongside CTL staff and university partners, the new director will evaluate and develop ways to support Concordia faculty and teaching assistants, so they can continually improve the quality and impact of their pedagogical practice in traditional and new environments.
Cassidy’s position is overseen by Catherine Bolton, vice-provost of Teaching and Learning.
“Robert’s knowledge and experience will play a central role in facilitating the CTL’s continued growth in terms of its visibility at Concordia and helping faculty to integrate educational technologies, experimentation and innovation in the classroom and beyond,” says Bolton.
As a former assistant dean of Academic Development and university professor, Cassidy has published, presented and collaborated extensively on research projects related to pedagogical change and new perspectives in teaching and student engagement.
His enthusiasm for teaching and learning dates to his years instructing undergraduate students, when he was awarded a Teaching Excellence Award by Concordia’s Undergraduate Psychology Association.
“Robert believes in the traditional classroom but he is also a strong supporter of rethinking the design of physical learning environments, the endless possibilities of digital and blended learning as well as the role of technology in the classroom,” says Bolton. “Throughout his academic career he has demonstrated a commitment to teaching that is connected, transformative, and fit for the times.”
For Cassidy, having a desire to improve one’s pedagogical practice is the first step, but having readily available support, opportunities and mechanisms for development bridges the gap between one’s aspirations and making a felt difference in the classroom.
“As a student and as an academic, I always valued the importance of research,” he says. “But what captivated me most was the notion that with equal sets of knowledge, two professors could make tremendously different contributions to a student’s academic experience by consciously choosing the life-long pursuit of examining, developing and refining their own teaching practice in service of students. My chosen practice is helping faculty improve their own teaching practice.”
Cassidy holds a PhD in Neuroscience from Georgetown University.
Find out more about Concordia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning.