Michael Lee, MBA, PDOT

Profile portrait of Michael Lee.

Professor of Teaching and Associate Head of Education Affairs

phone: 604–822–7029




Growing up in a culture with strong work ethics and values, I never doubt the values of occupation and work. Having practiced as an occupational therapist in the field of Mental Health Rehabilitation for about 40 years, I developed a passion for enabling people with psychosocial needs to participate in the occupations of their choice. In recent years, I have been an ambassador bringing psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery to countries where such concepts are not fully embraced.

In 2015, I was awarded the Ambassador Award from the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Canada in recognition of my work in advancing psychosocial rehabilitation. Strongly believing in the importance of preparing the younger generation to become outstanding therapists, I started investing my time and energy in educating future occupational therapists 20+ years ago. Enabling the students to fully participate in the occupation of learning is my greatest joy. 

I was educated as an occupational therapist in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada about 30 years ago. I am particularly keen on supporting occupational therapists educated elsewhere in practicing in Canada. Merging my clinical expertise in mental health practice and my beliefs in enabling students to thrive in their higher education, I spearheaded many campus mental health projects and have been developing new knowledge on how best to support students’ wellbeing, in particular focusing on teaching practices. In recognition of my pioneering work on campus mental health, I was awarded the Margaret Fulton Award in 2018. I enable my students’ learning by applying findings from my research work. My effective teaching resulted in me being the 2021 winner for the UBC Killam Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

I enjoy my occupation as a father and a husband. During my spare time, you can find me swimming regularly for my fitness and fixing electronic gadgets or playing with computer programming to keep up my problem-solving skills.


My research interests and specialization lie in four main areas, with the first three focused on education research & scholarship of teaching and learning, with the fourth area being clinically focused:

  1. teaching practices that foster students’ wellbeing, including undergraduate and graduate students wellbeing;
  2. inclusive campus and universal design in learning that support university students with disabilities to excel in their occupation of learning;
  3. occupational therapy education research; and
  4. occupation participation for people with mental health concerns


As a believer in constructivism, my philosophy in teaching is to enable learners to construct and interpret their understanding of knowledge and reality through active learning process. Underscoring the importance of affective and cognitive aspects of learning, I bring Fink’s “human dimensions” domain to my teaching, and use Cognitive Load Theory to guide content delivery. Integrating my research findings to my teaching, I intentionally apply teaching strategies that support students’ wellbeing to my classes.

As an educator who values students’ success in constructing new knowledge that is meaningful to them, I prioritize addressing students’ motivation and making learning relevant to their life. Addressing students as whole people, valuing their intrinsic meaning of learning, and fostering their wellbeing are key to me when designing a class, a course, or a curriculum.

As deep learning calls upon meaning-making and relevancy to the learner, it is critical for us as teachers in higher education to rethink the purpose and value of education. As a teacher of health professionals, I echo Philip Candy’s sentiment:

“What if education […] is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires? What if we began by appreciating how education not only gets into our head but also (and more fundamentally) grabs us by the gut? What if education was primarily concerned with shaping our hopes and passions?” (from Candy, P. (1991). Self-direction for lifelong learning: A comprehensive guide to theory and practice. Jossey-Bass Publishers.)

I enjoy teaching the psychosocial aspects of illness, especially on enabling occupation participation through promoting recovery for people living with mental health concerns. I am also interested in clinical reasoning skills in occupational therapy practice, as well as program and outcome evaluations. I am especially passionate about interprofessional education and works collaboratively with other educators to develop interprofessional curricula.

Research Opportunities for MSc/PhD Students

I focus on educating future occupational therapists as entry-level therapists at the Master’s level and I am not currently supervising any research students.


  • Registrant, College of Occupational Therapists in British Columbia
  • Affiliated Investigator, Vancouver Coastal Health
  • Member and volunteer, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists
  • Member and volunteer, Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists, BC Chapter
  • Member, Board of Directors, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Canada
  • Co-chair, Certification Committee, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Canada
  • Member, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Canada
  • Member, US Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association

Select Publications

*link to articles provided when possible*

Wang, C., Ao, L., Wang, L., Jiang, F., Zhou, Y., Liao, P., & Lee, M.  (2020). Promoting mental wellbeing through internet during COVID-19: A case report in Yunnan, China. The World Federation of Occupational Therapist Bulletin. https://doi.org/10.1080/14473828.2020.1821499  

Battalova, A., Bulk, L., Nimmon, L., Hole, R., Krupa, T., Lee, M., Mayer, Y., & Jarus, T. (2020). “I can understand where they’re coming from”: How clinicians’ disability experiences shape their interaction with clients. Qualitative Health Research, 1049732320922193. https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732320922193  

Bulk, L. Y., Tikhonova, J., Gagnon, J. M., Battalova, A., Mayer, Y., Krupa, T., Lee, M., Nimmon, L., & Jarus, T. (2020). Disabled healthcare professionals’ diverse, embodied, and socially embedded experiences. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 25(1), 111–129. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10459-019-09912-6  

Jarus, T., Bezati, R., Trivett, S., Lee, M., Bulk, L. Y., Battalova, A., Mayer, Y., Murphy, S., Gerber, P., & Drynan, D. (2019). Professionalism and disabled clinicians: the client’s perspective. Disability and Society, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2019.1669436  

Bulk, L. Y., Easterbrook, A., Roberts, E., Groening, M., Murphy, S., Lee, M., Parisa, G., Gagnon, J., Jarus, T. (2017). “We are not anything alike”: Marginalization of health professionals with disabilities. Disability & Society, 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2017.1308247  

Wada, M., Suto, M. J., Lee, M., Sanders, D., Sun, C., Le, T. N., Goldman-Hasbun, J., & Chauhan, S. (2019). University students’ perspectives on mental illness stigma. Mental Health & Prevention14, 200159. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mph.2019.200159  

Easterbrook, A., Bulk, L., Lee, M., Marlee, G., Opini, O., Parhar, G., & Jarus, T. (2018). University gatekeepers’ use of the rhetoric of citizenship to relegate the status of students with disabilities in health and human service programs. Journal Disability and Society, 34(1), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2018.1505603  

Lysaght, R., Thomas, A., Schmitz, C., Lee, M., & Bossers, A. (2018). Expanding the foundation of occupational therapy educational research – A Canadian initiative. World Federation of Occupational Therapists Bulletin, 74(1), 52–57. https://doi.org/10.1080/14473828.2017.1384126  

Lee, M., Wada, M. Carter, K., Goldman-Hasbun, J., Nga Le, T., Pang, M., Ma, C., Hambler, P., Sun, C., & Jung, D. (2018). Conducting a university student mental health needs assessment using a participatory action research approach. SAGE Research Methods Cases. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526446664 

Lane, K., Teng, M. Y-C, Barnes, S., Moore, K., & Lee, M. (2018). Using appreciative inquiry to understand the role of teaching practices in student well-being at a research-intensive university. Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.5206/cjsotl-rcacea.2018.2.10  

Schmitz, C., Lysaght, R., Peterson, M, Lee, M., & Thomas, A. (2017). Establishing collective priorities for occupational therapy educational research in CanadaOTNow, 19.5. 28–29.  

Lee, M., & Iyqbal, I. (2017). Backward Course Design. This Changed My Teachinghttp://thischangedmypractice.com/backward-course-design/  

Thomas, T., Bossers, A., Lee, M., & Lysaght, R. (2016). Occupational therapy education research: Results of a national survey. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70, 1–9. http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.685S06  

Easterbrook, A., Bulk, L., Ghanouni, P., Lee, M., Opini, B., Roberts, E., Parhar, G., & Jarus, T. (2015). The legitimization process of students with disabilities in health and human service educational programs in Canada. Disability & Society, 30, 1505–1520. https://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2015.1108183  

Eccott, L., Hall, W., Newton, C., Lee, M., Greig, A., & Wood, V. (2012). Evaluating students’ perceptions of an interprofessional problem-based pilot learning projectJournal of Allied Health41, 185–189