The Student Learning Commons is home to professional staff members who are specialists in their fields. We also hire graduate students who provide part-time writing and/or learning support.
Head, Student Learning Commons
Donna McGee Thompson
Donna joined the Student Learning Commons as a Learning Services Coordinator when it opened in 2006 and became Head of the department in August 2011. Prior to joining the SLC, Donna had served at SFU’s Health and Counselling Centre as Learning Skills Coordinator; Douglas College's Learning Centre (David Lam Campus) as Services Coordinator; and at Capilano College (now Capilano University) as Learning Specialist and faculty member. Over her career in the learning field, Donna has planned and delivered learning success programs, developed and facilitated training programs for peer educators, tutored and taught writing, run a pilot for an online tutoring program, and completed research and co-published articles on course-integrated learning instruction. Donna helped to develop the curriculum for the Back on Track Program and continues to be an instructor for BOT courses. She is also co-coordinator of the Academic Enhancement Program in the SFU School of Computing Science. Donna completed an undergraduate degree at SFU in Psychology (Honours) and a Master of Arts degree in Adult Education at the University of British Columbia.
Peggy has previous experiences working and studying at Simon Fraser University, including completing her Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Kinesiology. She enjoys giving warm welcomes to students visiting the Student Learning Commons, being stunned by nature's phenomenal beauty, and exploring the indefinite possibilities the world has to offer.
English as an Additional Language (EAL) Services Coordinator
Dr. Tim Mossman
Tim Mossman, Ph.D., is an educator, qualitative researcher, and English as an Additional Language (EAL) specialist. He has his Ph.D. in Education (Languages, Cultures, and Literacies) from Simon Fraser University. Before SFU, he earned both his Master of Arts degree in English Education (TESOL) and Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of British Columbia. He also has his professional teaching certificate from the BC Ministry of Education. Tim currently coordinates the EAL Services in the Student Learning Commons (SLC), a position he has held since 2007. In this role, Tim contributes to and participates in SLC activities such as individual consultations with students, developing and presenting workshops and short -term courses, and mentoring graduate students and student peers, all with a focus on EAL support. Prior to this, Tim worked for 16 years as a faculty member at Canadian International College, a private post-secondary institution where he taught and designed content-based English language courses. Tim has also taught English in Japan, at Douglas College, at UBC, and in the FALx99 course at SFU. His professional interests include studying the identities of multilingual immigrant youth through ethnographic and discourse analytic methods and has several publications in the applied linguistics literature. In his free time, Dr. Mossman enjoys walks in Deep Cove with his wife, Eiko.
Learning Services Coordinators
Ruth Silverman (pronouns: she/ her/ hers) has been with SFU's Student Learning Commons since 2007 and goes by many titles: Learning Services Coordinator, Back on Track Program Instructor, and co-Divisional Supervisor for the Writing and Learning Peer Educators. Originally from Ottawa and currently living and working on unceded Coast Salish Territory, Ruth holds an M.Ed. (SFU), a B.A. (Hons. Psychology, Carleton), and an LL.B. (Ottawa). She has a diverse work history, including working on Parliament Hill and for the Federal Court of Canada, and practicing as both a lawyer and a career counsellor (not at the same time). Ruth holds two leadership roles within the post-secondary Learning Specialist Community: Pacific Regional Director of the Learning Specialists Association of Canada, and Canadian Regional Leader for the College Reading and Learning Association, both since 2015.
Dal joined the Student Learning Commons in August 2011. Previously, she was the manager of SFU Peer Programs and worked with peer educators in various capacities for 10 years. Before working at SFU, Dal fuelled her interest in student program development working on international projects for the European University Association in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to moving overseas, Dal worked for BC’s Ministry of Advanced Education and the Premier’s Youth Office. Dal is passionate about student development, performance coaching and lifelong learning. She is a certified professional coach who in addition to working at the SLC, teaches interpersonal communication in the Business Management program in SFU's Continuing Studies department and at Douglas College. She is the published author of "Peer Education: The impact of volunteering on students." Dal completed her BA (Criminology, Sociology) at SFU and has an MA in Leadership and Training from Royal Roads University.
Writing Services Coordinators
Amanda started her writing life as a newspaper reporter in Toronto and Vancouver before receiving her BA and MA in English Language at UBC. After teaching writing and communication at UBC and Langara College, she studied rhetoric and professional communication at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where she received her PhD. She then served as assistant and associate professor at the University of Winnipeg's Centre for Academic Writing and helped develop the major program in Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications. When she moved back to the coast in 2006, she served for two years as the SLC's first writing services coordinator. At UBC, she taught academic, business, and technical writing courses from 2008-2013 and designed online writing courses for the Writing Centre. Returning to the SLC in 2013, Amanda has continued to develop and coordinate a variety of writing opportunities including writing-peer training, in-class workshops, and support for TAs who work with undergraduate writers.
Renee McCallum (On Leave)
Renee is the Writing Services Coordinator at the Student Learning Commons(SLC). She has a BA in French Literature, with a Minor in English Literature, and an MA in Linguistics, both from the University of Texas at El Paso, and is working towards a PhD in Linguistics at SFU. She has a strong background in academic and technical writing, with research interests in second language acquisition and computer-assisted language learning. Renee McCallum comes to the SLC from the SFU School of Engineering Science, where she taught writing and communication courses and worked with individual undergraduate and graduate students on a variety of writing, presentation, and other communication skills.
Writing Services Coordinator (temporary) & Writing Services Associate
Julia (she/her/hers) is a queer, vegan, feminist. She is also a white settler who lives, mothers, writes, and teaches on unceeded Coast Salish territories. She holds a PhD in Arts Education from Simon Fraser University and her dissertation is about the application of a theatrical clowning practice to scholarship, specifically researching, teaching, and writing. Her master’s degree is from Trent University’s Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies program and her M.A. thesis focused on environmental education. She completed her undergraduate studies at York University in the theatre department, specializing in theatre creation and performance. Julia is currently covering both the Grad Writing Coordinator and Writing Services Associate portfolios with the Student Learning Commons. As an SLC Associate, Julia's work focuses on undergraduate writing workshops, the annual SLC writing contest, and the SLC blog, In Common. As a Writing Services Coordinator, she coordinates the writing services offered by the Research Commons. She invites students, faculty members, and staff from across the university to get in touch with her when they are looking to access, create, or improve writing supports.
Cynthia (pronouns: she/ her/ hers) joined SFU in October 2005 as the Coordinator of the Student Learning Commons at the Surrey campus. As Coordinator she organizes the campus' writing and learning skills workshops and -- along with the Graduate Facilitators and Peer Educators she oversees -- provides students with individual consultations in writing, learning skills, and in English conversation. She is part of the curriculum development team of the Student Success Program and teaches in the Back on Track program at both the Surrey and Burnaby campuses. She is committed to helping students at all levels achieve academic success. Cynthia has a Masters degree in Adult Education from the University of British Columbia and is a certified professional life coach.
Graduate Peer Learning/Writing Facilitators
Every term, the SLC hires a team of qualified SFU graduate students as part-time Graduate Peer Writing/Learning Facilitators.