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Mary Chaktsiris, Mairi Cowan, Gordon Baker


The CHA Teaching Prize


Early or Alternative Career Award, Canadian history

Mary Chaktsiris2021Mary Chaktsiris

Prof. Chaktsiris is an associate at the L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University. Her nomination package impressed with creative approaches to historical primary source instruction focused on identifying, analysing, and sharing meaningful primary sources. In her pedagogical approach, primary sources illustrated “history as a process,” allowing students to learn to assess historical significance and multiple narratives across various modalities. In upper-level courses Prof. Chaktsiris developed primary source assignments for students to investigate what “counts” as a primary source. The “In Your Backyard” assignment enables students the space to engage with primary sources ranging from family photographs, public buildings, currency, corporate branding, and archival documents, while presenting them with the opportunity to communicate their findings in innovative ways. Prof. Chaktsiris also works closely with librarians and archivists across institutions to promote access to primary source collections and develop teaching programmes that include student engagement with research collections at their institution.

Early or Alternative Career Award, other than Canadian history
The prize was not awarded this year.

Open Career State Award, Canadian history
The prize was not awarded this year.

Open Career State Award, other than Canadian history

Mairi 2021Mairi Cowan

Prof. Cowan is an associate professor (teaching stream) in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her impressive nomination package highlighted her dedication to maintaining a focus on primary sources in her teaching. Threaded throughout her courses are innovative assessments and dynamic pedagogical approaches to the use, interpretation, and critique of primary sources. In her first-year Introduction to History course (the largest course in the department and the second largest class at the University of Toronto), Prof. Cowan devotes much of her lesson time to teaching students how to locate, select, and ask the right questions of primary sources. Her innovation and creative use of primary source material is likewise evident throughout many of her upper-level courses. For example, students not only listen to music played by professional musicians in class, but also sing a medieval chant themselves while encouraged to critically analyse music as they would any other primary source. Prof. Cowan’s impressive dedication to teaching with primary sources and sharing pedagogical approaches to the use of primary sources extends beyond the classroom to include her graduate student teaching assistants, elementary students and instructors, the public. She has also authored various peer-reviewed publications.

Honourable Mention

Gordon BakerGordon Barker

Prof. Barker is a full professor in the Department of History at Bishop’s University. He teaches survey courses on American history, as well as upper-level courses on themes such as the American Civil War and Reconstruction, African American history, and Women in Early America. His dedication to student success, across various courses and levels, centres upon the use of primary sources as a way to excite and engage students in historical practice.