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Teaching others how to think critically is a difficult task. Some teaching techniques work; others do not—but why is this the case? Hear from Dr. John Nychka, University of Alberta, on different teaching methods and their effectiveness in supporting students as they learn how to think reflectively, and in a critically reflective manner.

Who should attend?

Anyone teaching materials or related courses in engineering, science or design.

What you will learn:

  • Hear why certain techniques may or may not work in our current educational climate of information overload.
  • Explore promising techniques that have the power to shape the future of materials education.
  • Learn about the development of a new senior undergraduate materials course that exclusively uses class discussions and the unfolding case method to cultivate learners’ reflective thinking and critical reflective thinking abilities — Performance of Materials.

Dr John Nychka

Dr. Nychka is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta. He was previously Associate Chair (Undergraduate Programs) in that department and most recently served as Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) in the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.

In his role as Vice-Provost (Learning Initiatives), Dr. Nychka is leading the advancement of many of the University’s initiatives related to the learning environment, in areas that include experiential learning, awards for faculty excellence, blended and digital learning, and the assessment and evaluation of teaching.

His main teaching interest is the design of authentic learning opportunities for students as they transition to becoming context-dependent knowledge creators and practitioners. He favours the use of messy and open-ended problems to promote synthesis of existing knowledge and the development of judgement and metacognition in his learners at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Dr. Nychka received his formal training in metallurgical engineering (B.Sc. 1997, University of Alberta, Co-op with Distinction), materials science & engineering (M.Eng. 1999, McMaster University), and materials (Ph.D. 2004, University of California Santa Barbara). His research interests are in the failure of materials, creating bioactive glass scaffolds for bone tissue repair, and interdisciplinary research involving the application of materials science and engineering concepts in a variety of fields ranging from cryobiology to wildlife ecology to textiles. He is a recipient of the Mike Ashby Outstanding Materials Educator Award.


November 21, 2019
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm



  • LA: 08:00
  • New York: 11:00
  • London: 16:00
  • Paris: 17:00
  • Bangalore: 20:30



  • London: 08:00
  • Paris: 19:00
  • Bangalore: 12:30

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