Soon after graduating from the University of Lethbridge Riley Kostek took a position as science teacher at Victoria Park High School. There he learned to adapt his teaching and assessment approaches for Lethbridge area students with alternative educational needs.

Students who attend Victoria Park School might be working full time, supporting themselves, or have kids already,” says Riley Kostek (BSc’09/BEd’11). "Some cannot function in the pressure-cooker of a large classroom.”

Kostek’s desire to help challenged students led him to pursue advanced studies. “I chose the MEd Teaching, Learning and Neuroscience program because it is the only one offered in western Canada to bridge the three disciplines of psychology, neuroscience, and education. Coming from a strong science background combined with my passion as an educator made this program a perfect fit. Also, the connections I made with the faculty during my time as an undergraduate Education student strongly influenced my decision to continue my graduate studies there. I knew the program would be rigourous and that the courses would be delivered by respected scholars in the field.”

Teaching, Learning and Neuroscience MEd student, Riley Kostek describes his graduate studies journey.

Kostek is gaining insights into the cognitive architecture of the brain and how it affects learning. “It’s not always a student’s choice to display some behaviours,” he says. “There might be structural differences in the brain that cause them to act or disengage the way they do.”

Kostek works with Education professor Lance Grigg and his team on the campus-based Chess for Life research project for at-risk youth in the criminal justice system. “Chess requires logic, critical thinking, and working through solutions,” says Kostek. “It also helps strengthen relationships and a sense of community.” Learning and practicing chess helps youth think ahead, consider consequences, plan before they act, and exercise self-control. “The project has instilled in me the value of teacher as researcher,” says Kostek, noting the opportunity to incorporate some of the neuroscientific principles he’s learning. He looks forward to applying them in the classroom as well. “If I can link behaviour to a structural or developmental issue I can go from there to best assess and move forward to benefit students.”

Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan | Photographer: Rob Olson | Video: Jim McNally

Related story links to Teaching, Learning and Neuroscience:
Dr. Nancy Grigg: A Career Devoted to Teachers and Students

For more information please contact:

Darcy Tamayose
Communications Officer
Dean's Office • Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
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