SSC Distinguished Educator Award 2024

Jim Stallard
SSC Distinguished Educator Award

The SSC Distinguished Educator Award recognizes sustained excellence in teaching statistics by SSC members, through significant contributions to evidence-based pedagogy and in leadership in statistical education in Canada. Such sustained excellence may be demonstrated through the development and improvement of evidence-based pedagogy, continued promotion of accessibility and inclusivity in learning, broad and continuing integration of research or professional experience into teaching, or evidence of success in statistics community building.

Jim Stallard is Professor (Teaching) in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Calgary. He completed his Masters in Statistics at Calgary and has been serving in a variety of capacities at Calgary since 1999 when he rejoined the department after a stint in statistical consulting. Jim was appointed as a Senior Instructor in 2010, and promoted to Teaching Professor in 2016. He has had an extensive career of innovation, service and inspiration to several generations of students and peers, played a central role in the creation of a Canadian Statistics Education community, and has served as an example to a generation of statisticians.

At Calgary, Jim has taught 10 different courses (many of them large service courses) an innumerable number of times across his 25 years as an instructor, influencing the education and lives of thousands upon thousands of students. In these courses, Jim is a firm believer in 'bringing the students off the sidelines and onto the field to play'. His classes are carefully crafted to promote active learning and encourage reinforcement of concepts through small-group exercises and immediate in-class feedback. His student-centred focus on learning has led to him being nominated for the Calgary Student Union Teaching Award fourteen (14!) times, and having been the recipient of a University of Calgary Faculty of Science Teaching Excellence Award.

As an example to those around him, Jim has also demonstrated continual, sustained excellence in educational leadership, designing, launching, and continuing to support a number of educational initiatives. He created the Department Teaching Series for the University of Calgary, which brought mathematics and statistics educators in from the local high school boards to meet with faculty from Calgary, Mount Royal, and Lethbridge to present and discuss pedagogical ideas and methods for improving student understanding. During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jim was also recognized for exemplary leadership in teaching.  And across his career, he has been a firm advocate for mentorship and support of early-career educators, innovating on course design, pedagogy, and sharing his materials freely and openly.

Jim has also had an extensive career of service to the statistics profession, both at the University of Calgary and nationally via the Statistical Society of Canada. He has served as Associate Head twice (2011-18); was co-lead of the task force that designed the undergraduate Minor in Data Science and the professional Masters in Data Science and Analytics; organized and oversees Data Science Fridays; and currently serves as the co-director of the Data Science Program. Nationally, Jim was also one of the first Canadian statistics educators involved in the building of what became the Statistics Education Section community, starting with an influential presentation at the 2006 SSC Annual Meeting special session on creative education initiatives. Jim has chaired the Statistics Education Committee; served as president of the Statistics Education Section; helped organize the workshop on teaching dossier development for the SSC Annual Meeting; and was co-facilitator of the Canadian Undergraduate Curriculum Working Group. For two decades, he has been a leading voice in Canada in advancing evidence-based teaching practices and building student-centred teaching cultures.

Wesley Burr, Danielle Demiantschuk and Alison Gibbs were responsible for gathering this material. 

The citation for the award reads: 

To Jim Stallard, for his career of dedication and advocacy for the practice of teaching statistics; his student-centred and innovative approaches to the pedagogy of teaching; his leadership in building a Canadian statistics education community; and his outstanding service to his department, university, and the Statistical Society of Canada.