Professor Steve Joordens

Steve JoordensProfessor Joordens earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Brunswick in 1989, his Masters and Ph.D degrees at the University of Waterloo in 1991 and 1994 respectfully, then did a six month PostDoctoral Fellowship at McMaster University before joining the faculty at the University of Toronto Scarborough in 1995. Since his arrival Professor Joordens has taught 7 different undergraduate courses, and 3 different graduate courses. All of the graduate courses, and 2 of the undergraduate courses, were courses that Professor Joordens created from scratch. More recently, Professor Joordens has settled in as the instructor for the first half of our extremely large Introductory Psychology offering, and has been instrumental in the early development of both the webOption and peerScholar within that context. In fact, Professor Joordens was overseeing the Introductory Psychology course when it changed from being 3 relatively independent sections into one very large course, and he ultimately designed the procedure that is now used to assess performance in this course, a course with a number of students that is double the capacity of the gymnasium.

Professor Joordens has won awards for his lecturing including the SCSU Best Professor award in 2002/2003, and being nominated for TV Ontario’s Best Lecturer competition 4 times; once making the Top 30, once in the Top 20, and twice in the Top 10. In addition, he won a Leadership in Faculty Teaching Award in 2006/07 in recognition of both his lecturing and his innovative approach to education. His innovation was also honoured in 2009 when, along with his graduate student Dwayne Pare, they won a 2009 National Technology Innovation Award for their creation of peerScholar, an internet-based application that supports the development of critical thinking and clear communication skills. The peerScholar concept was licensed by Pearson Education in 2008 for distribution to the higher education market, and was recently licensed again by Pearson Education in 2010 for distribution to the K-12 system.

In addition to developing and implementing technologies for learning, Professor Joordens and his laboratory have also conducted high quality research related to a range of pedagogical issues. To date that research has resulted in 8 papers published in peer-reviewed journals, and 3 published in peer-reviewed conference proceedings. Another 3 papers are currently submitted, and 2 are currently in preparation. In addition, pedagogical research from Professor Joordens lab was been presented 17 times across 15 different conferences, both national and international. Some of this work documents the functional and pedagogical validity of peerScholar, some examines satisfaction with the webOption and the ways students use it in various course contexts (e.g., Psychology vs. Calculus), and the newer work examines study behaviour as a function of expectation, and multiple-choice behaviour using an eye-tracking system. Last year, three of these presentations won “Best presentation in session” honours. In recognition of this work, Joordens has been invited to be the Session Speaker in the Teaching of Psychology session at the 2010 Canadian Psychological Association conference in Winnipeg.

In addition to his pedagogical research, Professor Joordens also continues to conduct research on human memory, consciousness and attention. This research reflects Professor Joordens graduate training, and has been supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada since Joordens was a Masters student. In recognition of his work on memory Joordens won a Premier’s Research Excellence Award for the 2001-2006 period. The research skills relevant to this work provide the underpinnings of his more recent research on learning and technology. Professor Joordens submitted a grant proposal this year to Social Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to further support this work. The proposal was deemed worthy of funding but, due to insufficient funds, was not (yet) funded. There is every reason to believe it will be funded next year.

In terms of sharing his psychological expertise with the community at large, Joordens is often asked to give talks related to Psychology at libraries and community centres, and he is often sought after by reporters to provide a psychological perspective on issues of current interest. In addition, Professor Joordens is one of the “Psychology Experts” featured on Plastic Makes Perfect, a show on the SLICE network (and others) that allows Joordens to discuss psychological research related to the desire for, and risks of, plastic surgery. These forms of contact are important because a university’s and a professor’s responsibility is to the citizens of the country as a whole. When one gets the opportunity to speak with the community outside of the university walls, those opportunities should be taken both for their own sake and because they can lead to other higher profile opportunities. For example, due in part to Joordens’ community talks and press interviews, he has been invited to be a Keynote Speaker at the 2010 Acquired Brain Injury Conference in Toronto, the 2010 ASET (Association for Special Education Technology) Conference in Niagara Falls and the 2010 Faculty Forum for teachers of English and Liberal Studies across Seneca College.

In summary, Professor Joordens has been repeated recognized for both the quality of his lecturing and his technical innovations related to learning, innovations which are being adopted widely by the learning community. He has presented his pedagogical research widely winning awards for his presentations, and has a number of papers published in high-quality peer-reviewed journals. His expertise as a scholar of learning is now being recognized with keynote speaker invitations. He is also tightly integrated with the larger learning community, and values each opportunity to bring his knowledge to bear in a variety of contexts. In short, Professor Joordens is the sort of professor who loves to teach and who constantly strives to improve the learning process through award winning research and innovation and research.