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Cecilia Kutas

Cecilia Kutas

Academic Title: Associate Professor, Teaching Stream

Phone: 416-978-8796

Office: LM 221

Email:

Research

My research interests are primarily within the field of science and mathematics education, with specific emphasis on intelligent learning that promotes connections between the area of learning and the student's everyday life. Intelligent learning is based on understanding, and facilitated by the instructor through providing concept related experiences for the student, thus allowing him/her to distil the concept from the concrete, based on personal experiences. This kind of learning is more time consuming, but it is longer lasting and far more adaptable than rote learning. It is also innately motivating, because it makes the learning meaningful, and generates the positive affect inherent in intellectual growth that makes it a self-perpetuating process. While there is an element of rote learning associated with every field of study, the high degree of regularity in math and science significantly reduces this component, and increases the intelligent learning component that is based on pattern recognition, logic, and reasoning.

Courses Taught

My Innovative Teaching Techniques seminar (INX 199 L0131)encourages participants to engage in intelligent learning whenever appropriate, and promotes innovative teaching through the application of focused intelligence. This means that the teaching material is organized and presented to emphasize patterns and connections and teaches it so that the material seems relevant and makes sense. Sample 199Y class project , developed to disseminate information to high school students.

My assignments in organic chemistry represent two different types of teaching: laboratory and lecture. The aim of the laboratory is to reinforce theory with practical experience, while introducing students to typical interactions between scientists in a scientific community. Therefore, the CHM 247 laboratory is structured to build learning communities, relate the lab to students' everyday experiences and illustrate practical aspects of theory taught in lecture. Several experiments require each student to generate his/her own results, but then look at the big picture of pooled results to find patterns in the data and draw conclusions. This is the type of process scientists engage in as they construct the knowledge of the discipline.

The CHM 247 lectures are also pattern oriented, that is why I teach from a mechanistic perspective; to accelerate students' perception of the patterns inherent in the different types of organic reactions. I also spice up my lectures with relevant examples of organic compounds and interactions students are already familiar with in their every day lives, in order to link the lecture material to students' reality. While the language analogy is probably most appropriate to the learning of organic chemistry, (i.e. it has a higher component of rote learning than mathematics, for instance), once you know the vocabulary and the rules of grammar, you should be able to speak it with relative ease.