Emma Bourassa

My evolving philosophy of educational development includes the following:

To not be afraid of change

To respect diverse perspectives of education

To actively experiment with new knowledge, skills and tools

To empower others

To model risk taking and life-long learning

To put the students’ learning first

Ultimately if I’ve done my job well, I am redundant


Fifteen years at Thompson Rivers University has been an opportunity to examine and re-write curriculum and to gain insight into how faculty champions are using active learning (using games, role play, case study) and faculty questions are around best practices (e.g. active learning, formative assessment, wellness). It has also been an opportunity to reflect on myself as a teacher and learner. In the last few years I have spent much of my time exploring backward design from application in my classroom (daily learning outcome shared with students) and certification in e-online learning. That program, as well as the Instructional Strategies Online exposed me to the considerations of different learners (e.g. adult learners, gen Y etc) and what student engagement looks like for these various cohorts. I am developing a blended course in Intercultural Communication, applying this knowledge. As lead researcher and curriculum developer and field test instructor for a Vancouver Community College research project , I was able to engage in applied research, collaborative practice and for the first time, co-teaching. I am actively engaged with higher education teaching and learning via discussions on the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) list serves. These have led to recent investigation of such topics as Mentoring and Student Engagement.

There are 2 areas I am beginning to explore:

  • Student engagement including use of technology, and 21st century skills I am interested in partnering with high schools to find out who the students who are coming to higher education are in order to develop means for faculty and students to have successful, rewarding experiences. In light of the new B.C. curriculum, the timing is perfect. This could be used to inform first year experience.
  • Assessment, including online learning and competencies This is of interest as it seems important that students within a program and when in pursuit of employment are able to talk about and provide proof of their learning. This will likely involve e-portfolios, web design or other creative technological artifacts.

I have been an English as a Second Language instructor internationally and domestically and a public school teacher for over 20 years. I have always looked to new opportunities to be involved in teaching and learning and look forward to working with experts that come from different contexts and different leadership styles. My experience at Vancouver Community College has gotten me very excited and fired up to participate in collaborative projects that are student centered. I look forward to being in a team that has not only topic knowledge but also experience and ability to empower others.

My goal is to acquire an educational developer position in order to increase my attributes, skills and knowledge about the field, as well as have a more comprehensive understanding of how a center for teaching and learning is developed, evaluated and maintained. A long term goal is to mentor others who are in pursuit of what I view as a very important aspect of education in higher education.