Jane Strawhecker Receives Pratt-Heins Award for Teaching
UNK faculty and staff, and UNK benefactors were among those honored during the annual Faculty/Staff Opening Convocation Friday, August 24, in the Fine Arts Recital Hall.
Tom Tye II, a trustee with the Pratt-Heins Foundation, presented the Pratt-Heins Award for teaching to Jane Strawhecker, faculty in COE. The Pratt-Heins Foundation Award for Teaching is based on evidence of consistent outstanding teaching as evidenced by peer evaluations from departmental faculty, the department chair and dean of the nominee’s college.
Tye described Dr. Strawhecker as “…truly an outstanding educator who makes a difference, in real ways, with teaching candidates, practicing teachers and also with elementary-aged youngsters.” Dr. Strawhecker came to UNK seven years ago after 14 years of highly successful teaching in elementary and middle school settings. She is consistently rated by her students in the outstanding category. In 2006, she was recognized with the 2006 College of Education Outstanding Teaching Award and the UNK Mortar Board Teacher Recognition.
In nominating her for the Pratt-Heins Award, her nominator wrote: “The foundation for our renewed undergraduate teaching programs is commitment to a field-based delivery model. I believe her most significant teaching accomplishment is an unusually high aptitude for teaching in this cutting edge, dynamic, fluid and complex environment.
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CTE Recognition Luncheon
April 18, 2007
The CTE Recognition Luncheon for Spring 2007 was held in the Chancellor's Dining Room on April 18th. At the luncheon, all faculty teaching and mentoring award winners for the 2006-2007 academic year were recognized, including the following:
- Leland Holdt Award - Max McFarland, COE and Rick Miller, NSS
- Pratt - Heins Award - Joe Benz, NSS
- Creative Teaching Award - Theresa Wadkins, NSS and Dennis Potthoff, COE
- Honors Program Outstanding Teacher - John Anderson, NSS
- Inter-Fraternity Council Teaching Award - Peter Longo, NSS
- Student Body Teaching Award - Neal Schnoor, COE
- Faculty Mentoring Award - Teara Archwamety for Graduate College and UNK; David Nabb, FAH; Vijay Agrawal, CBT; Kim Carlson, NSS
- OTICA - Valerie Cisler, FAH
The speakers for the annual recognition luncheon are former UNK OTICA winners. The speaker at the 2007 luncheon, Dr. Robert Rycek, was the OTICA winner in 2001. In his speech, From Mentee to Mentor: Passing the Torch, Bob reminisced about his journey through academia and the impact of faculty mentors on their students.
Rycek shared the life-altering experience he had as an undergraduate when one of his professors wrote at the end of his paper, “If you’re not already doing research, you should be.” That single event motivated Rycek to knock on the professor’s door and begin a mentoring relationship that profoundly changed his life. His conversations with his mentor led him to a career teaching in academia.
Bob borrowed a quote from Henry Brooks Adams, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” He pointed out that next to parents, teachers probably exert the most influence on the growing minds of children and young adults. Bob then went on to say that the quote should go a step further –“ A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence STARTS.” Looking back at the students he has mentored, Bob indicated that he often wonders what he did or what the student did to start the mentoring process. However, he is clear that the rewards of mentoring are in watching your students grow.
Rycek concluded his presentation by reminding the attendees that teachers often have no clue as to the impact they have on their students, but what they do is important and their influence is passed on. Often times, it’s the small things that really matter, like his mentor writing the sentence, “If you’re not already doing research, you should be.”
Find the full Transcript of Dr. Rycek’s speech at—From Mentee to Mentor: Passing the Torch.
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Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking:
Transferring Your Expertise To the Online Classroom
Jean Mandernach, Ph.D.
In her CTE presentation on critical thinking, Jean Mandernach asked four key questions for faculty to consider when teaching critical thinking skills in the classroom or online:
- How important are critical thinking skills for college students?
- How important is teaching critical thinking within your degree/program competencies?
- How important is the development of students’ critical thinking within your courses?
- How well do your instructional strategies instill critical thinking strategies within your students?
Dr. Mandernach outlined research on faculty attitudes towards teaching critical thinking that indicates while an overwhelming majority (89%) of university faculty claimed critical thinking to be a primary objective of their instruction only 19% could define critical thinking; 77% had little, limited or no conception of how to reconcile content coverage with the fostering of critical thinking; and only a very small minority could clearly explain the meanings of basic terms in critical thinking--
- 8% could clearly differentiate between an assumption and an inference
- 4% could differentiate between an inference and an implication
- 9% mentioned the special and/or growing need for critical thinking today in virtue of the pace of change and the complexities inherent in human life
Jean presented the dilemma of faculty struggling with the integration of critical thinking in the familiar, comfortable context of the face-to-face classroom, then asked to transfer these skills to online learning. How can faculty overcome existing instructional challenges to create virtual classroom experiences that promote this abstract intellectual process in a learning environment that is novel, distant, and asynchronous?
Jean suggested that the key to teaching critical thinking online is NOT to become a tech-savvy, multimedia guru. Rather, the goal is to use content expertise to design learning activities that utilize critical thinking strategies to enhance students’ understanding of discipline-specific content. Then appropriate online learning tools can be applied to facilitate instructional and learning goals. The online instructor’s goal is to develop a class structure and online teaching style that encourages creativity, reflective thinking, and self-directed learning.
Dr. Mandernach provided a number of effective techniques for designing and developing critical thinking activities for the online teaching environment. Access the presentation for these tips. In conclusion, Jean suggested advantages for teaching critical thinking in the online environment, including:
- Enhanced time
- Increased resources for preparation
- Removal of peer-pressure
- Decreased self-consciousness
- Equal-opportunity environment
- Encourages inclusion of all students
- Novelty (at least for now)
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15 Survival Strategies for New Instructors
The Center for Teaching Excellence held this online seminar on Wednesday, September 12th. Dr. Peter M. Saunders presented his strategies for new instructors.
Meet the presenter:
Dr. Peter M. Saunders is the director of Oregon State University’s Center for Teaching and Learning. He has been a teaching-learning director and educational consultant with more than 20 years of teaching experience delivering faculty/instructor development programs in educational and corporate settings.
Although college faculty are typically well versed in their disciplines, in research methods and pedagogical writing, they frequently aren’t prepared in how to manage a classroom effectively. Classroom skills that are used on a daily basis, such as interacting with students and providing feedback, time management, and handling the required paperwork and politics of teaching are assumed to be learned "on the job." This seminar covered 15 strategies that all higher education instructors should know.
Dr. Saunders' 15 strategies included:
- Prepare, Teach, Reflect, Revise
- Set learner expectations through a well-crafted syllabus
- Communicate your expectations often and stick to them
- Focus on both the process of learning and mastery of content
- Create a safe environment
- Emphasize time on task
- Learn students' names
- Be professional and friendly, but not students' friend
- Use relevant anticipatory sets to focus minds and hearts
- Tap the power of peer pressure and admiration
- Engage learners in meaningful activities
- Vary lectures with in-class activities
- Integrate technology appropriately
- Provide feedback on learning often
- Show your enthusiasm for your subject area and have fun
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Calendar of Events
September 12th - New Faculty Series - Online Seminar and Brown Bag Lunch
15 Survival Strategies for New Instructors
Peter M. Saunders, Director of Teaching and Learning, Oregon State University
September 26th - Lunch with the Senior Vice Chancellor - RSVP requested
Listening to Our Students: The Impact of Student Engagement on Academic Success
Finnie Murray, Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Student Life
October 11th - Distinguished Lecture Series - Luncheon – RSVP requested
NSU Cedar Room
Undergraduate Research: "Why Bother?" and Strategies for Implementation
John Mateja, Director, Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity Office/McNair Scholars Program, Murray State University
October 24th - New Faculty Series - Online Seminar and Brown Bag Lunch
12:00 – 1:30
Coping with Misconduct in the College Classroom
Gerald Amada, Founder and former director of the Mental Health Program at City College of San Francisco
October 25th - Faculty Seminar
NSU Oak Room
Engaging Ideas for Teaching Writing Intensive Courses
Michele Steinmetz, NSS, Greg Brown, COE, Janice Fronczak, FAH, and Larry Carstenson, CBT
November 8th - Web Seminar Series – Brown Bag Lunch
Approaches to Improving the First Year Student Experience
Joni Petschauer, Director, Western North Carolina Network for Access and Success
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CTE Faculty Stipends
The Center for Teaching Excellence provides stipends for faculty to attend conferences or workshops related to teaching and student learning. Preference is given to faculty who are making a presentation on teaching/learning topics. Applications should be submitted to the CTE Director. Successful applicants will be asked to deliver their conference presentation or a topic related to the conference or workshop at a CTE seminar. Applications are available at this link. For a list of upcoming conferences on teaching go to http://www.unk.edu/acad/cte/index.php?id=2021
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Teaching Issues: Resources for Faculty
1. Learn to Use and Create Rubrics for Grading Written Projects http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php
2. Active Learning Beyond the Classroom http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/essays_teaching_excellence.htm
3. Building Confidence and Community in the Classroom http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/essays_teaching_excellence.htm
4. But How Do We Get Them to Think? http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/essays_teaching_excellence.htm
5. Higher Level Learning: A Taxonomy for Identifying Different Kinds of Significant Learning http://oregonstate.edu/ctl/essays_teaching_excellence.htm
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Your comments and contributions are welcome!
Please send any comments or suggestions for the newsletter to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have information that you would like presented in the newsletter or would like to write something for one of the editions, please contact the Center for Teaching Excellence 865-8588 or by email at the Center.