Victoria Talwar, Professor with our Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, has been named the winner of the 2017 David Thomson Award for Graduate Supervision and Teaching. The award acknowledges outstanding contributions to promoting graduate student excellence through supervision and teaching by a faculty member who has been supervising for 10 years or more.
Dr. Victoria Talwar is Director of the Talwar Child Development Research Laboratory, where she leads a group of researchers interested in children’s social-cognitive development. The team's research is informed by the disciplines of psychology, education and law to examine children’s behaviours that are pertinent to children’s adaptive development, child witness testimony and professionals who work with children. In addition, Professor Talwar is a Canada Research Chair in Developmental Psychology and Law, and Associate Member of the McGill Institute for Human Development and Well-Being (IHDW).
Ada Sinacore, also of the Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, was also nominated for the award. Please click here to view Dr. Sinacore's biography and approach. The article below can be found in its original form on the McGill Supervision website.
Victoria Talwar, Educational and Counselling Psychology
“I focus on tailoring the experience to suit students' career goals, abilities, and areas of growth.”
I am an Associate Professor and a Canada Research Chair (II) in Developmental Psychology and Law in the Dept. of Educational and Counselling Psychology at McGill University. I conduct research on child development issues that intersect between the disciplines of Psychology, Education and Law. Recognition for my contributions to psychological science include the Society for Research on Child Development Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Child Development Research award, Fellow of American Psychological Association and Fellow of Association for Psychological Science. I am humbled to receive recognition for my mentoring of students, a job that already is filled with pleasure and reward.
Approach to graduate supervision
In my graduate student supervision, I focus on tailoring the experience to suit students' career goals, abilities, and areas of growth. I ask each student at the beginning and throughout their studies, "What are your goals?" As a result, they learn how to set and revise their goals, and I learn how to adjust my mentoring to meet their evolving objectives. For each student, I try to give them opportunities that are important for their academic and career goals. I also have all students create term plans and yearly plans that are revised and readjusted over time. And I hold them accountable to the timelines that they create. Consequently, they are very productive in scholarly activities and professional development. Finally, I encourage teamwork and collaboration in research projects (e.g., presentations at conferences, papers for publication) for these are important skills for their future careers. This also creates a community where everyone feels fellowship and a collective sense of purpose, responsibility, and achievement. I model collaborative learning to my students through my own research and provide opportunities for students to also collaborate with my extensive network of collaborators to expose them to different perspectives in the areas of psychology, law, and education. Overall, in my graduate teaching and supervision, I use a tailored mentorship approach that emphasizes critical thinking, skill development, goal-setting, and collaboration to support students through their graduate degrees and into their respective career paths.
Dr. Victoria Talwar is a very active and engaged supervisor who is involved in her students’ learning process. She has the ability to motivate students to be a part of a bigger learning process than simply getting a degree, and she is able to instill a deep passion for this learning and progress. She quickly learns about each of her students, and uses both internal motivation (passion, interest, personal goals) and external motivation (deadlines!) as needed for each student. One of Dr. Talwar’s characteristics that make her an exceptional supervisor is her ability to see the potential in her students and help them to rise to it. She is an acute listener and she quickly taps into her students’ individual passions, interests, and abilities, and then uses this knowledge to motivate them internally to set goals that seem to be just outside of their current ability to achieve.
Jennifer Lavoie, PhD Candidate