Barb Morra wins Outstanding Teaching Award

March 26, 2021 by Dan Haves

Professor Barb Morra has been honoured with a 2021 Faculty of Arts & Science Outstanding Teaching Award. These awards recognize teaching excellence in undergraduate and graduate education with a focus on classroom instruction and course design and/or curriculum development.

Prof. Morra, who joined the Department of Chemistry in 2012 and was named Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, in 2019, regularly teaches large introductory organic chemistry courses along with specialized upper-year courses, both in the classroom and laboratory.

She recognizes that organic chemistry can be hard, especially for introductory students. Prof. Morra helps students see the way molecules behave and can be applied by providing a dynamic learning experience, leading creative critical thinking and problem solving activities, and by making connections between course concepts and real-world applications.

Over the years, Prof. Morra has made significant curricular changes to the way organic chemistry is taught in the Department, to enhance the student learning experience both in the classroom and laboratory. Her most recent initiatives have focused on providing students with course-based research experiments that bridge the gap between the classroom and real research experiences. She has also made significant contributions in fostering a culture of green chemistry practice in the Department.

Her students have praised Prof. Morra’s teaching for her clear and organized course materials and effective methods of teaching complex ideas. They also commend her dedication to promoting a supportive, inclusive, and positive learning environment. Prof. Morra’s exceptionally impressive teaching evaluations at both the department and university levels speak to the concerted effort she clearly puts into her classes, laboratories, and course design.

Outside of the classroom, Prof. Morra is an active member of various teaching and learning communities with high school and undergraduate students, including her role with the Ontario Chemistry Olympiad and First-Year Learning Communities Program. She also actively works with research students through the Chemistry Teaching Fellowship Program (graduate students) and Research Opportunities Program (undergraduate students).

"It is such an honour to have been selected for a 2021 FAS Outstanding Teaching Award," says Prof. Morra. "I am so grateful to be a part of such an amazing community of educators and students, both in the Department of Chemistry and in the greater chemistry education community, who continue to inspire and support my work.

"Much of my pedagogical research and curriculum development would be impossible if not for the team of motivated students, both undergraduate and graduate students, that I have had the great pleasure of working with. I am truly grateful for all of their hard work and dedication!"

Prof. Morra will receive her Outstanding Teaching Award at an event to be held later this spring.