Martha Mullally, an instructor in Carleton’s Department of Biology, has been named the 2021 Carleton University Chair in Teaching Innovation for her dedication to encouraging new teaching practices within the STEM disciplines.

The Chair in Teaching Innovation recognizes educators who have demonstrated teaching excellence and innovation across their career. Chairs receive a $45,000 grant spanning three years to undertake projects that advance the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) at Carleton.

“On behalf of the Carleton community, I congratulate Dr. Mullally on this achievement,” said Jerry Tomberlin, Carleton’s Provost and Vice-President (Academic). “Martha’s commitment to the scholarship of teaching and learning in the STEM disciplines is an outstanding example of how our community is rethinking pedagogy in innovative ways.”

With this grant, Mullally plans to strengthen the link between the Faculty of Science and Teaching and Learning Services to help change the way instructors teach. She hopes to implement more evidence-based teaching practices to positively impact student performance and success rates across the Faculty.

“For me, the goal really is to reduce failure rates with the objective of increasing retention across the board, including people who have been historically underrepresented in science,” she said. “I think we really have a responsibility as gatekeepers in science to open up the gate and teaching practices link to that. Improving our teaching practices can reduce failure rates and then it can make the gate open a little wider for more people to come and join.”

“Martha is an exceptional instructor who is committed to breaking down educational barriers and increasing students’ opportunities for success,” said Associate Vice-President (Teaching and Learning) David Hornsby. “We are excited to see her project come to life and the incredible impact it will have on our Faculty of Science and beyond.”

Mullally says she plans to enhance ongoing initiatives in the Faculty, including the STEM Educational Journal Club, in addition to launching a number of new initiatives, such as an inclusive teaching toolkit, which she’s developed along with Prof. Rowan Thomson, Assistant Dean (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), and student Candice Harris. She wants to continue to develop the community pieces around Carleton’s teaching culture so that people feel supported and able to try new approaches in their teaching.

“The literature is clear, and I know from my own experience that when you feel supported and encouraged by your peers to try something new in your classroom, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to be succeed,” said Mullally.

While the focus of Mullally’s project is the Faculty of Science, she plans to engage with peers from other non-science disciplines, both within and outside of Carleton, through presentations and scholarly publications on lessons learned.

For Mullally, receiving this distinction was a confirmation of Carleton’s commitment to fostering student success and positive change through teaching innovation and scholarly work.

“Almost since the very first day I started here, I’ve felt so much support around my big project of talking, engaging and doing research about teaching,” said Mullally. “This is kind of the icing on top of just really feeling that Carleton doesn’t just talk about the importance of teaching, it really walks the walk and that happens on all levels of campus. It’s really exciting for me to be part of this, but also to just feel the support that people do really believe that teaching is important and they’re willing to invest in projects like this to make it real.”