Science Education Specialist

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The position is a Faculty of Science-funded education specialist (SES) embedded in Physics & Astronomy. The specialist will coordinate and support Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER) projects, advise faculty on teaching and learning practices, and work with them on course and curriculum revisions, pedagogical improvement projects, and assessment of teaching and learning effectiveness. A key role will be to support faculty instructors and teaching assistants in the use of best practices related to teaching and learning. Occasionally the SES might participate in the instruction of specific undergraduate courses in order to support pedagogical advancement and the improvement of departmental instruction.

Successful applicants will have disciplinary expertise in Physics, Astronomy or a related discipline, and will bring expertise in pedagogy and evidence-based teaching practices. They will receive ongoing support, mentoring and training in science education, including through professional development workshops coordinated by the Faculty of Science Centre for Learning and Teaching (Skylight).


This appointment will be made in the department of Physics & Astronomy in the Faculty of Science. This position reports jointly to the Department Head of Physics & Astronomy or designate and to the Director of Skylight or designate. They will work closely with faculty instructors, teaching assistants, and students who may be hired to help with projects. They will interact with peers in their home department, in other departments and with Skylight personnel and the central teaching unit (CTLT) They may supervise teaching assistants and/or student research assistants.


  • Instructional guidance:
    • Advise and support faculty in developing and implementing new courses and course materials, transforming and improving existing courses, and revising and coordinating revision of curriculum at a course and/or program level
    • Advise and support faculty teaching activities and teaching and learning development projects; assist in developing, deploying and archiving instructional materials
    • Collect, distil, and communicate data to guide faculty/department efforts including the design of evaluation tools (concept questions, surveys, focus group questions, etc.)
    • Advise/collaborate with faculty on teaching and learning project proposal development (e.g., applications for UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund projects and Skylight development grants)
    • Liaise with members of Skylight and the UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology to coordinate relevant educational technology support and administrative assistance
    • Prepare and present departmental reports on pedagogical projects and/or initiatives
    • Coordinate departmental activities toward the achievement of the departmental vision around teaching and learning
  • Faculty Instructor and Teaching Assistant development:
    • Support faculty instructors in the use of evidence-based practices, possibly as part of a paired instruction arrangement
    • Serve as a resource for evidence-based teaching practice
    • Provide formative, informal expert feedback to faculty instructors on their teaching
    • Develop and deliver professional development workshops related to teaching for faculty instructors and teaching assistants
    • Facilitate the professional development of faculty instructors in the area of teaching and learning through workshops and one-on-one consultations, providing expertise and support in the planning, designing and implementing of evidence-based teaching practices and resources, and by measuring the effectiveness of such interventions.
  • Discipline-based education research (DBER):
    • Consult and collaborate on scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and DBER efforts undertaken by faculty instructors
    • Design educational research experiments and collect relevant data for course projects and publish newly developed instruments or implementation of novel methods
    • Disseminate scholarly work in collaboration with faculty instructors through presentations at national and international conferences and publishing in peer-reviewed journals
  • Community building:
    • Facilitate communication and consensus building around teaching and learning within the department
    • Liaise across departments in the Faculty of Science and with colleagues at other institutions in the same discipline
    • Serve on committees related to departmental teaching and learning activities
    • Organize and participate in department activities related to instructional practice such as discussion series, science education seminars and reading groups
  • Participate in centrally-organized work and activities, including collaborating on Faculty of Science-wide projects, participating actively in the community of their peers across departments, attending/contributing to Skylight meetings, Supper Series and the Science Education Open House each April, and serving on committees as needed.
  • As part of the larger teaching improvement mission, may be asked occasionally to instruct in courses that are under development/study and have been identified as in need of pedagogical advancement. This would be less than one (up to three credits) course a year, at most twice (up to six credits) in a three year time span, and would be done under an Honorary Lecturer appointment.


The incumbent will be providing instructional expertise to improve the effectiveness of teaching by faculty instructors and teaching assistants in the department, and will advise on the development and improvement of organizational practices, and departmental teaching methods and materials. They will participate in the assessment of program offerings and peer review of teaching. Errors will impact the overall success of departmental teaching programs, and our ability to improve the teaching success of individual faculty instructors.


The role reports jointly to both the Skylight Director and Department Head, or designates. The incumbent will work under general guidelines. Work is reviewed in term of achievement and effectiveness of the department's educational goals.


This role provides guidance and advice to faculty instructors and teaching assistants on pedagogical skills, teaching practices and curriculum. It may include supervision of undergraduate/graduate teaching, research or academic assistants who may be hired to support DBER and projects.


Undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline. BSc in one of the STEM disciplines; PhD in physics, astronomy, or related science is preferred so that the incumbent will have sufficient knowledge of the subject to better provide relevant pedagogical guidance in the courses taught. Minimum of four years experience or the equivalent combination of education and experience. Must have knowledge of current pedagogical research and best practices in teaching. Experience working in an instructional capacity (instructor or teaching assistant) with undergraduates. Experience in curriculum development. Experience in evaluation. Experience with learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard) and other educational technologies would be an asset, as well as experience in computing and programming.


  • Ability to lead change by helping to implement a vision and taking appropriate action to ensure acceptance and support.
  • Ability to instruct and provide training in pedagogical best practices.
  • Ability to initiate and conduct research projects.
  • Ability to analyze and interpret data, determine implications, and provide recommendations.
  • Must have good assessment and evaluation skills.
  • Must be able to give effective presentations.
  • Must have excellent writing and verbal communication skills.
  • Must have good management and organization skills.
  • Ability to work effectively with minimal supervision.
  • Ability to deal with a diversity of people in a calm, courteous, and effective manner.