Dr. Amrinderbir Singh (DDS, MPH) is an assistant professor and director of Inclusive Community Care for the College of Dentistry.
Dr. Amrinderbir Singh (DDS, MPH) is an assistant professor and director of Inclusive Community Care for the College of Dentistry.

Teaching award recognizes Singh's inclusive approach to learning

Dr. Amrinderbir Singh is the 2022 recipient of the Provost’s College Awards for Outstanding Teaching.

Dr. Amrinderbir Singh believes in bringing people together through learning.

An inclusive approach to instruction, a focus on interdisciplinary and collaborative learning, the value of active engagement and the importance of community are pillars in his work with students.

“At the core of my teaching philosophy I aim to realize education as practice of freedom. It’s a process to learn about, with, and from one another as people first,” said Singh (DDS, MPH), an assistant professor and director of Inclusive Community Care for the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Dentistry.

“My commitment is to contribute to an educational environment that enables learners from all backgrounds to have positive and empowering experiences that will enable them to value their cultural identities, be respectful of others and strive to see the world from perspectives other than their own. What’s important to me are the ways in which the learning occurs, not just what is learned.”

A belief that education can transform the world through teachers and learners working together is one reason why Singh was the college’s 2022 recipient of the Provost’s College Awards for Outstanding Teaching, presented earlier this year in recognition of excellence in undergraduate instruction.

Singh’s teaching responsibilities include courses in communication skills and preclinical operative dentistry. Since joining the college in the fall of 2019, he has also taught ethics and professionalism.

His teaching approach mirrors the skills and values he shares with students as they prepare for life and careers as health professionals. For Singh, creating a relationship between teacher and learner means a responsibility to provide an inclusive classroom.

“In my teaching I emphasize the social significance of the professional practice and the impact it has on patients’ families and communities,” he said. “I believe in teaching approaches that strive to address the needs of all students and provide a learning experience that will allow students from all backgrounds, learning styles, and abilities to be successful. All students feel their contributions are equally valued and respected.

“My priority is to ensure that learners’ learning needs are met. The biggest thing to me is creating a comfortable and safe space for learners to express and voice their ideas, acknowledging diversity and remaining respectful, flexible and committed to the learning communities.”

Singh’s professional background and public health dentistry speciality mesh with his academic and teaching roles. A focus on community and opportunities to connect across disciplines, cultures and beliefs shapes his commitment to delivering holistic care to every individual with respect to their cultural identity.

He leads interdisciplinary education at the college, which provides opportunities to work with students across health sciences disciplines. Oral health care modules he developed have been utilized by more than 700 learners in 10 different programs and three institutions.

Singh’s approach resonates with students. Class evaluations note a high level of communication, an engaged and positive teaching style, and a learning environment that facilitates meaningful discussion and allows students to learn from each other and themselves.

A student in his Communication Skills I class wrote:

“I gained knowledge on how to handle difficult situations with patients. Without these practice sessions, I would not necessarily have known what to do or say if this were to happen with a patient for the first time. I learned a lot about ethics, about the practice of dentistry, some of the boundaries we must be aware of, how to calm patients, etc. I learned a lot about myself and how to communicate.”

A Year 1 student shared how a lecture helped affirm the student’s decision to enter dentistry.

“I chose dentistry in hopes that I would be able to lend a helping hand in some form, to communities facing access to care barriers, which is why your course and experience are of particular interest to me. I find your career choice very inspiring, as I wasn’t previously aware of opportunities for dentists to influence public policy and effect systemic change.”

Singh appreciates the opportunity to see students respond to their learning and how they grow and implement previous experiences as they move through their dental education.

“I am teaching Year 3 now, so I have taught the same students in Year 1 and Year 2 and to witness that progression in their learning and their focus shifting from just caring for the tooth to caring for their patient and considering the patient’s social determinants of health is amazing to watch,” he said.

“Making that difference in students’ learning and understanding — and then they actually go and do the work in the communities — is extremely important.”

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