Academic Rank:
Associate Professor, UBC
Centre for Health Education Scholarship
Affiliation(s):
Short Bio:

Niamh has three main portfolios in her position as an Associate Professor at UBC, namely:

  • A Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine portfolio, which engages her in designing innovative approaches to teaching and learning
  • A Faculty of Medicine portfolio, which engages her as a member of the leadership team designing UBC’s distributed medical education program
  • A University portfolio, which engages her as part of the Service Learning initiative, bringing science students into the community to teach science to children.

These three portfolios cut across the divide of teaching, research and service, facilitating Niamh’s engagement in all three of these University activities:

  • With regard to teaching, Niamh has taught large second year science classes, small PBL groups, an online course and science students engaged in teaching hands-on science to children. She has taught in the Faculties of Medicine, Science and Education. As a teacher, she does not see her role as the deliverer of knowledge, rather, she sees that the teacher should facilitate the student in their search for, and understanding of, knowledge. Niamh’s signature course is an online case-based learning course “Bacterial Infection in Humans”, which she delivers out of the Pathology department (PATH417). Students engage with the course content by working their way through infectious disease cases. The learning process starts with a self-directed exercise using e-portfolios; this is followed by the students checking their understanding of the material with their peers in small online group forums; and, finally, the students submit their understanding of the cases to the instructors for feedback. The course concentrates entirely on the learning (rather than the teaching) process and has attracted students from all over Canada, along with faculty interest from other Universities and Colleges.Niamh’s other main educational role is in the design, and delivery, of the basic science curriculum in UBC’s undergraduate medical curriculum. UBC’s medical program engages a hybrid approach of PBL and lectures to deliver the basic sciences in a systems based curriculum, delivered in 14 ‘blocks’ over two years. Niamh has been a PBL tutor in most of these blocks, has led the development and delivery of the Host Defence and Infection block, and, currently oversees the planning and delivery of the basic science curriculum in UBC’s distributed medical program. As a key player in the design and delivery of UBC’s distributed medical program, which delivers UBC’s medical program to three distinct University campuses (in British Columbia) separated by water and approx. 500 miles (or 800 km) of land, she has been at the forefront in the promotion, design, and delivery of Web based learning initiatives.Niamh’s involvement in the Universities educational mandate has been recognised in numerous citations and awards, including the University of British Columbia Killam Teaching Prize, (the Universities premier teaching award).
  • With regard to research, Niamh has left behind a basic science research career (with over 20 publications and two patent applications) and switched to researching (her) educational practice. Her research is currently focused on:
    1) applying the ‘Seven Principles of Excellence in Undergraduate Education’ (Chickering and Gamson, 1989) to an analysis of the learning taking place in the online Bacterial Infection in Humans course
    2) the evaluation of a peer feedback component designed for, and introduced into, the medical programs professionalism curriculum
    3) a research program which is examining how our learners become oriented to, and engage in, PBL
  • In addition to her educational and research initiatives, Niamh has embraced UBC’s commitment to Service Learning. Already engaged in delivering science to school children, in an outreach capacity, Niamh was invited to join the ‘Presidents Committee for the establishment of a Downtown Presence’ soon after Martha Piper joined UBC as President in 1997. Through this initiative, Niamh began to engage science students alongside her in her science outreach role. Working with faculty members in the faculty of education, she secured funding from the Imperial Oil Foundation to grow this program and designed a 3 credit course on science teaching as a part of this Service Learning initiative. To date, over 100 university students have engaged with Niamh’s hands-on science program, delivered through Science World and in elementary schools. In addition to teaching children, Niamh works with (pre-school and elementary school) parent groups and teachers in encouraging, and instructing, them on how to engage children in the scientific process. In her effort to deliver the learning associated with doing science to children, Niamh uses what she coins as a ‘trickle down learning’ approach. She excites teachers, parents and University students in the process of doing engaging science experiments and, in turn, facilitates them delivering this learning to (their) children. Niamh reaches as far back as the pre-school audience in an attempt to train the next generation of scientific thinkers

Academic background

  • PhD, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, Microbiology. 1985
  • BA (Mod.), Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, Microbiology. 1979

Publications

  • Carolyn Oliver, Susan Nesbit, Niamh Kelly. Dissolving Dualisms: How Two Positivists Engaged with Non-Positivist Qualitative Methodology. International Journal of Qualitative Methods 2013, 12: 180-194.
  • Kelly, N. What are you doing creatively these days? response to the 2012 question of the
    year, Academic Medicine, vol. 87, no.11, p1476, November 2012.
  • Kelly N, Nesbit S, Oliver C. A difficult journey: transitioning from STEM (Science, Technology,
    Engineering and Mathematics) to SoTL. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching
    and Learning 6 (1):1-10, 2012
  • Kelly N, Gaul K, Huynh H, Grunau GL, Murphy C. Quality trumps face-to-face presence when delivering lectures in a distributed multi-site medical education programme. Med Educ. 2008 Feb;42(2):225.
  • Kelly N, Angelo T, Harden R, Schlesinger J, Ehrmann SC, Nichols C. Learner centered strategies for the lecture hall: an IAMSE webcast audio seminar series. JIAMSE 2008 18(1): 18-20.
Primary Research Area
Scholarship of Teaching of Education Research

Research Interest

Expertise

  • science education from pre-school to university,
  • balancing family and professional life, women in science

Teaching Interest

As a member of UBC’s professoriate, I have multiple education portfolios,including:
Departmental portfolio which engages me in designing innovative approaches toteaching and learning for undergraduate science/health science students andresidents. A Faculty of Medicine portfolio in which I have been engaged as Director of theFoundations of Medicine course, tasked with designing the delivery of the basicsciences in UBC’s distributed medical education program. A University portfolio in which I am engaged with UBC’s Community Service Learning initiative, bringing science students into the community to teach science to children and educating adult audiences about science education.

These three portfolios cut across the divide of teaching, research and service, facilitating my engagement in all three of these University activities. With regard to teaching, I have taught large introductory lecture style science classes; small PBL groups; a distributed online Infectious Diseases course; and, engaged science students in teaching hands-on science to children. I have taught all levels of students: undergraduates, postgraduates and professionals in training,
e.g. medical students and medical residents and, I have taught in the Faculty of Medicine, Science and Education.

Departmental My ‘signature’ course is an online case-based learning course ‘Bacterial Infection in Humans’, which is delivered out of my home department in partnership with the Office of Learning Technology. In this online course students engage with the course content by working their way through infectious disease cases. The learning process starts with a self-directed exercise using e-portfolios; this is followed by the students checking their understanding of the
material with their peers in small online group forums; and, finally, the students submit their understanding of the cases to the instructors for critiquing. The course concentrates entirely on the learning (rather than the teaching) process and has attracted students from all over North America along with faculty interest from other Universities and Colleges. For a demonstration of how this course works please go to:www.webct.ubc.ca/webct/homearea/homearea using ID: pathdemo
and password: path417demo.

Faculty of Medicine A faculty level educational leadership role in which I have, until recently, been involved was in designing the delivery of the basic science curriculum in UBC’s distributed undergraduate medical curriculum. The delivery of the basic science curriculum is through a hybrid of PBL, lectures and laboratories delivered over two years in a course named: ‘The Foundations of Medicine’ (of which I was Director for six years). This course is simultaneously
delivered at the University of Prince George, The University of Victoria and at the UBC Vancouver Campus. In leading the delivery of this multi blockcourse (the course is delivered in 14 five week ‘blocks’ of knowledge) I was involved in every aspect of the educational programming from , overseeingthe writing of objectives to, designing evaluation tools to establish how the course objectives were being met to, overseeing the assessment of these objectives. Having finished
two terms in this leadership role, I am currently engaged in the design, development and delivery of courses aimed at training our Pathology medical residents for their role as teachers in the medical curriculum.

University Wide I have been a part of UBC’s commitment to Service Learning from the very beginning. Already engaged in delivering science to school children in an outreach capacity, I was invited to join the ‘Presidents Committee for the establishment of a Downtown Presence’ soon after Martha Piper joined UBC as President in 1997. Through this initiative I began to engage UBC science students alongside me in a program I established as a partnership between Science World and UBC, delivering ‘hands-on’ science to school children. Working with faculty members in the Faculty of Education, I secured funding from the Imperial Oil Foundation to grow this program and designed a 3 credit course on science teaching (CUST 416B) as a part of this Service Learning initiative. Hundreds of UBC students have engaged, either as volunteers or through the CUST course, with the hands-on science programs run through Science World (and in an extension to the program, through a number of elementary schools). In addition to university students and school children, I work with parent groups and teachers instructing them on how to engage children in the scientific process. In my effort to deliver the learning associated with doing science to children I use what I would coin a ‘trickle down learning’
approach. I introduce teachers, parents and University students to the fun associated with ‘doing’ science and, in turn, facilitate them in delivering this learning to children.

I have reached as far back as the pre-school audience in an attempt to train the next generation of scientific thinkers! My involvement in the Universities educational mandate has been recognized in numerous citations and awards, including the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine’s inaugural Education Award for Excellence, the University of British Columbia Killam Teaching Prize, the Spencer Award for IT Innovation, and the Canadian Association for Medical Educators Certificate of Merit.