CDAG Award of Excellence


Congratulations Valerie Parke!!
The Winner of the CDAG Award of Excellence in Curriculum, 

Valerie Parke Headshot Sept 2014

The Curriculum Developers Affinity Group (CDAG) Executive, and the CDAG Awards Committee, are very pleased to congratulate Valerie Parke from Mohawk College, on winning the first CDAG Award of Excellence!



Valerie Parke has taught communications at Mohawk College since 2003 working with first-year first-semester students to further develop their writing, reading, and presentation skills. As a Language Studies faculty member she has analyzed, developed, designed, implemented and evaluated curriculum to prepare students, from more than 25 programs of study, with the required workplace communication skills.

In 2012 Mohawk College, under the leadership of its Vice President Academic, Cheryl Jensen, published a new Academic Plan based on extensive consultations with both external and internal stakeholders. Valerie, who had participated in this consultation process, was seconded to be the Academic Plan’s Project Manager.

Two of the pillars of Mohawk’s Academic Plan were the establishment of Institutional Learning Outcomes and the implementation of eportfolios. To move both of these concepts to reality, Valerie established a series of project teams. The composition and objectives of these teams was inspired by Tim Brown’s design thinking. The Academic Plan project teams were composed of faculty, support staff, and administrators meeting for 2 hours per week for 10 weeks. A new topic was fully explored each week aided by high quality coffee, respectful conversation, and active listening.

Over 18 months, project teams defined the college’s five institutional learning outcomes stating that the ideal Mohawk graduate will be a communicator, a collaborator, a critical thinker, a responsible citizen, and a continuous learner. To ensure that current and future curriculum supported the development of the ideal Mohawk graduate, project teams aligned the six Essential Employability Skills to the college’s five Institutional Learning Outcomes. And finally, project teams researched and piloted eportfolios as a method for students to reflect on their learning; and, for graduates to demonstrate their skills to future employers.

Valerie’s skills as a librarian, kept the project teams fuelled with evidence of best practices from around the world. The Academic Plan project teams were not interested in re-inventing wheels; they wanted only to build on the best.

This fall, Valerie has returned to her “happy place” – the classroom and is eagerly anticipating the commencement of the ski season!

Valerie’s submission attested to her work in making curriculum advances in the areas of Innovation and Best Practices as part of her role as Academic Plan Project Manager where she brought to fruition the Institutional Learning Outcomes: Methods of Assessment encompassing

  • Post-secondary Pathways
  • E-Portfolios
  • Planning for an Online Learning community, and
  • 21st Century Digital Skills for all Mohawk college Employees/Students

Valerie successfully  elevated the level of discussion about learning outcomes, essential employability skills and the associated alignments by modeling and generating collaboration throughout Mohawk College, and creating excitement at all levels. Valerie accomplished this over an 18 month period by creating a website, blogging, engaging the expertise of various stakeholders, creating a process for assessing student development of critical thinking and ILO’s via Mohawk’s e-portfolio project, facilitating workshops, co-facilitating an 8 week e-portfolio training program, collaborating with student services, as well developing and facilitating a workshop for administration at Mohawk.

Runner Up

We also wish to acknowledge the exceptional work of the Dental Hygiene Collaborative Project Working Group, which included representatives from Cambrian, Durham, Fanshawe, Georgian and Niagara Colleges, who were nominated in the areas of Best Practices and Innovation.

This team worked together to develop a curriculum model that would integrate new national competencies for dental hygiene education with provincial program standards, and to communicate a common approach for a Program of Study that would increase transferability pathways and establish a collaborative approach for curriculum development, maintenance and renewal.

Finally, we would like to recognize the excellent work of Paul Johnson, from Confederation College, who was nominated in the category of Mentorship, specifically related to his ability to be an outstanding coach and mentor in curriculum standards development and review, and the implementation of the new COMMS (Course Outline Mapping and Management System) Mapping Tool.

~ CDAG thanks everyone for their submissions and ongoing contributions.  We look forward to the 2015 submissions for the second Award of Excellence. ~


About the CDAG Award of Excellence

The CDAG Award of Excellence publicly recognizes and celebrates individuals and teams who provide leadership in the ongoing development and sustainability of curriculum expertise in Ontario’s colleges. One person or team is awarded this distinction each year.

In keeping with CDAG’s mandate, eligible nominees must:

  • Demonstrate commitment to and knowledge of Curriculum Development, Design and/or Practice and its advancement
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills with colleagues.
  • Demonstrate the ability to enhance learning and stimulate critical thinking.
  • Inspire others to lead

In one of the following categories:

  • Research in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Specific to Curriculum
  • Mentorship in Curriculum
  • Best practices in Curriculum, and
  • Innovation in Curriculum


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