2015 Dean’s Awards for Excellence in Teaching

Robert Heynen – Contract Faculty

Dr. Rob Heynen has the invaluable ability to capture his students’ attention, whether teaching a class of a few or lecturing to hundreds. Just as he educates students, he credits them with informing the evolution of his approach to teaching.

“I have come to value teaching as the most rewarding, challenging and enjoyable aspect of academic life,” he says. “It is this dynamic quality, the fact that teaching is an interactive and mutually beneficial process, which draws me most strongly to the profession.”

Professor Heynen’s teaching history is interdisciplinary and his teaching philosophy marries theory to practice. He encourages his Communication Studies students to connect their academic experiences to the broader world, and the diversity of the student body is reflected in his course materials.

His classes are organized, dynamic and support experiential learning. He uses visual aids, music, debates or campus art tours to keep students engaged and focused. The structure of his assignments is meant to provide students with a sense of ownership over course content, thereby increasing information retention. He draws ethnic community media, from Nigerian film to Indigenous radio, to explore course concepts. And he is open to employing non-traditional assignments, including a hybrid photo-text essay and using York Lanes as a case study in consumer culture.

In the words of Professor Heynen’s students: “It was clear to me that he truly had a passion for teaching” and that “he is able to inspire through that passion.”