Christopher Knapper Lifetime Achievement Award Presentation

The Christopher Knapper Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented as part of three feature sessions held on Thursday, June 16 from 1:10 to 2:00 pm.  It will be in room Arts 143.


The Venn Diagram that is My Working Life: What Higher Education Researchers Know and What Instructors Do

Dr. Gary Poole, University of British Columbia

Gary Poole


In higher education, we continue to lament the apparent disconnection between a large body of evidence on effective teaching and current teaching practice — two circles in a Venn diagram that barely overlap.  We may believe that this disconnection would never be tolerated in other fields, though, in reality the challenge of translating research findings into practice is shared widely — from health professions (see Brown, et al., 2009; Haynes & Haines, 1998) to higher education (see Carey, 2010).  As illogical as it may seem, informing practice with good evidence is hard to do.  It turns out that there are a number of good reasons for this difficulty, and we will look at some of them in this session.

We will also look at some of the significant challenges associated with amassing evidence via educational research in the first place, and how educational researchers must manage the expectations of practitioners who want to know “what works.”  In this context, we need to look closely at the concept of “expertise.”  What does expertise mean in teaching and learning and what happens when our colleagues come to realize that expertise rarely results in expedient educational solutions?



Gary Poole is one of the most well known and respected figures in Canadian educational development. In 1992 he became the first director of SFU’s Centre for University Teaching and was at SFU for 12 years before moving down the mountain to UBC. He recently retired as Director of the Centre for Teaching and Academic Growth and the Founding Director of the Institute for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at the University of British Columbia.

He served for 10 years on the Steering Committee of STLHE, and for four years as our fourth president, during which time it is fair he changed the face of the organization and put it on a much more professional footing, with a permanent secretariat, expanded external partnerships, institutional memberships, and engagement in a comprehensive strategic planning exercise.

His organization of the wonderful annual meetings of educational developers each February in Vancouver led to the establishment of the Educational Developers Caucus which is now such an important part of STLHE. He was also very active in the establishment of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, of which is about to become President.

Gary is an educational leader, writer, award winning teacher (he earned a 3M Teaching Fellowship in 1994), educational broadcaster, sportsman, and fashion model (hence the extraordinary sight of me in a suit).



In 2002, STLHE created this award to honour individuals who have, over their career, made significant contributions to teaching, learning and educational development in Canadian higher education.  The first recipient, Christopher Knapper, was founding president of STLHE and a member of the the Society's Board of Directors for 20 years.  Gary Poole, together with Cynthia Weston, who was a co-recipient of the 2010 CKLAA Award and who will give her CKLAA presentation at the 2012 STLHE Conference in Montreal, are the fifth recipients of the CKLAA.  For more information, please go to the STLHE Website.