OTL Newsletter

2009 (01) February »

WSU 2007-2008 Teaching Award Winners

Author: Kimberly Conely

Nominated for consideration by students and peers, WSU faculty and graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) are eligible and encouraged to compete for various annual teaching-related awards, including the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award, Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award, and the Garrett T. Heberlein Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Students. For the 2007-2008 academic calendar, there were thirteen winners, representing several WSU Schools, Colleges, and Departments, including the School of Medicine, College of Education, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Gerontology. In an effort to highlight these individuals, they were asked to respond to a short survey generated by the OTL regarding their awards, hobbies, teaching philosophies, and teaching tips; the following is a summary of their responses.

The Wayne State University Board of Governors recognized these faculty and GTAs on April 22, 2008 at the Academic Recognition Ceremony, where they received plaques that they now display proudly in their offices. Garrett T. Heberlein Excellence in Teaching Award for Graduate Students winner, Lynne Kennette, said, “It serves as a constant reminder of the hard work I have accomplished and motivates me to continue my efforts.” Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award winner, Jeffrey Loeb, noted, “I am extremely proud of this award as it came about as a result of letters written by my current and former students. The award is hanging prominently in my office within the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics for all to see.”

In addition to plaques, the winners also received monetary stipends. President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching winner, Associate Professor, Lisabeth Hock, spent her stipend on books, while Kennette, a Psychology Graduate Teaching Assistant, applied her funds toward a plane ticket so that she could travel to a conference in October. Associate Professor, Marianne Fahlman, from Kinesiology, Health and Sport Studies said, “I bought a piece of art work by Goddard; gave some ‘fun money’ to my secretaries (I can’t do my job without them) and gave the rest to the Adrian Dominican Sister for the good work they do.”

In addition to their love of teaching, this year’s award winners have many other things in common, including how they spend their free time. Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Loeb, enjoys music, running, skiing, sailing, and spending time with his family. Kennette takes pleasure in walking, cooking, and camping, while Hock likes gardening, camping, hiking, reading, travel, yoga. Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology, William Crossland, is interested in spending time with his family, “fitness, photography, recycling and other green concerns.” And Fahlman spends her time traveling and trying new things, “usually some insane thrill seeking activity. I went sky diving in Australia and Bungee jumping in New Zealand. I walked on the lava flows in Hawaii and the glaciers in Alaska (where I also zip lined). I am also a baseball fanatic. If I am not thrill seeking, then I try to catch a game in whatever city I am visiting. I have seen baseball games in 26 out of 30 cities.”

When asked to summarize his teaching philosophy, Loeb notes, “While it is critical that students know the basic facts, it is even more important for them to know how to question those ‘facts’ and move forward. I try to encourage this through example and encourage students to constantly question.” Crossland’s overall philosophy is to “efficiently provide contemporary scientific information to medical students in a respectful, considerate and responsive way. I also consider the differences in abilities and learning styles of students and use digital technology to address these differences to foster learning and communication.” Fahlman, who teaches future high school teachers, understands that “one needs a certain amount of knowledge in the health sciences, knowledge is not the key to teaching health; behavior change is. The top three killers in this country have been the top three killers for over 30 years, and all of them are lifestyle-based.” Hock asserts “I am not dogmatic when it comes to teaching methodologies; I try to make sure that how I teach is informed by a balance of theory and praxis.” And Kennette adds, “I spend a lot of time ensuring that their learning environment is the best it can be by arriving early to class and staying late if necessary, providing detailed feedback on assignments quickly and responding to emails in a timely manner.”

In addition to these wise words, the award winners also offer teaching tips. Hock recommends respecting your “students by setting high standards for them. Support your students by being available to them and giving them the learning tools they need to achieve those standards.” Fahlman agrees, and encourages educators to “listen to the students. They will do anything for your class if they feel as if they are heard.”  To loosen things up a bit and capture the student’s interest Crossland suggests teachers “greet each class with a smile and a sincere, ‘Good day’ to all. Start off or finish up your class with a joke or cartoon.”

For a complete list of award recipients, visit the OTL website.

Kimberly Conely, M.A.
Instructional Consultant, Office for Teaching & Learning

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