March 28, 2008
Physiotherapist Brad Spokes, left, a graduate of the U of S, discusses the treatment of a foot injury with student Collin Dyck and patient Sharon Stueby, foreground. Overseeing the process is Peggy Proctor, winner of this year’s teaching excellence award for U of S sessional lecturers.
Photo by Liam Richards
By Jennifer Jacoby-Smith
To Peggy Proctor, experiential learning is more than just an academic buzzword.
“I really, really believe that students have to experience the material somehow and can’t just be told the truth,” said Proctor, a sessional lecturer in the School of Physical Therapy and the most recent winner of the Sylvia Wallace Sessional Lecturer Teaching Excellence Award.
Originally from Weyburn, Proctor graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a degree in Physical Therapy in 1984. After graduating, she worked as a physical therapist in various cities across Canada and Australia. She also worked for eight years with the Canadian Physical Therapy Association in Ottawa.
In 1998, Proctor and her husband returned to Saskatoon to be close to family and allow him to take advantage of a career opportunity. It was then she started teaching in the School of Physical Therapy, focusing on students who are in the final year of their physical therapy program.
“The area that I teach is professional issues – social issues, ethical issues and cultural issues,” Proctor said, “[basically] what we have to think about as a member of our society.” But, she also encourages students to consider situations and issues from various viewpoints, not just their own.
“They might still come to the same conclusion, but they need to consider issues from all viewpoints.”
In her work, Proctor also believes it is important to teach students how to function as part of a team of professionals from various disciplines with the shared goal of high quality patient care.
In addition to her teaching duties, Proctor also sets up internships for students, an important part of their learning experience because practical, hands-on training allows students to experience the lessons they’ve been assimilating.
“Those internships have such a powerful impact on the professional they become. You can talk it all you want, but you have to live it.”
Even though Proctor is not directly involved in those experiences, she enjoys organizing the right mix of clinical experiences to suit the needs of individual students. The students often return from their internships with a greater enthusiasm for their discipline and a sharper sense of who they want to be as a professional physical therapist, she said.
Proctor says receiving the Sylvia Wallace Sessional Lecturer Teaching Excellence Award was “overwhelming. To be chosen out of the 300 or so sessional lecturers at the University at any given time, who are just as passionate about their area of expertise, is really a humbling experience.”
She added, “I love getting to work with the students and my colleagues at the University. I learn every day from them.”
Jennifer Jacoby-Smith is a Saskatoon-based freelance writer.