Department of Biology
University of Toronto Mississauga
Fiona Rawle has a PhD in Pathology and Molecular Medicine and is currently the Associate Dean, Undergraduate at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in the Department of Biology. A scientist by training and a scientist at heart, Professor Rawle models the process of science to her students and uses evidence-based strategies in her teaching. She strives to foster curiosity and creativity in her students by sharing her passion for science.
Professor Rawle showcases how science is a way of learning about the natural world. She demonstrates this through the use of interactive case studies in lectures and inquiry-based activities in labs. All of her lectures feature active learning, such as the DNA structure lecture where the entire lecture hall (of 500 students) becomes one long double-stranded DNA molecule, with elbows acting as bases and hands acting as phosphate molecules, easily illustrating to the students how phosphodiester bonds and hydrogen bonds form, stabilizing the DNA double helix.
Professor Rawle takes an evidence-based approach to her teaching that is grounded in the literature on scientific education, and she also conducts discipline-based educational research to ensure the strategies she uses in the lecture hall are effective. In this way, Professor Rawle approaches teaching in the same way a scientist would approach bench research. By thinking scientifically about her teaching and evaluating the literature on science education, she is able to implement evidence-based pedagogy rooted in best practices, such as think-pair-share techniques, active learning, inquiry-based activities, and incorporation of scientific literacy assignments in large classes. Broadly, Professor Rawle’s research projects focus on science education, the science of learning, and the communication of science to the general public.
Professor Rawle has presented extensively over the past few years on her teaching innovations and teaching scholarship, with 57 invited talks and conference presentations (including presentations by students she has supervised). She is also the lead author of CAMBELL Biology, First and Second Edition, an introductory biology textbook that is used at widespread institutions across Canada.
Professor Rawle has received several awards focused on teaching, including the E.A. Robinson Teaching Excellence Award and the University of Toronto Early Career Teaching Award. Professor Rawle is also a member of the University of Toronto’s TIDE group (Toronto Initiative for Diversity & Excellence), which strives to counter unconscious bias through training and facilitation.