• September 1, 2015

Professors of the Year: They Put Students in Charge of Learning

Professors of the Year Put Students in Charge of Learning 3

Heather Dunn, Ambience Photography

Ping-Tung Chang uses a "grow your own problem-solving approach" in his math classes at Matanuska-Susitna College, part of the U. of Alaska at Anchorage.

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Heather Dunn, Ambience Photography

Ping-Tung Chang uses a "grow your own problem-solving approach" in his math classes at Matanuska-Susitna College, part of the U. of Alaska at Anchorage.

To spark their interest in geology, one professor traveled more than 300 miles with his undergraduates so they could gain fieldwork experience. Another professor got his students to do a puppet show based on a literary classic.

Those two academics, and two others, are being honored today as U.S. Professors of the Year for excellence in teaching by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

"What matters to them is learning, not lectures; inspiring, not processing; exploring and not just explaining," said John Lippincott, president of the council.

Nominees were evaluated on their scholarly approach to teaching and learning, their involvement with students, their contributions to undergraduate education at their colleges and in their communities and profession; and their support from colleagues and current and former students. Each of this year's four honorees received a $5,000 prize.

The winners are:

Ping-Tung Chang

Professor of mathematics, Matanuska-Susitna College

At his small community college near Anchorage, in southern Alaska, about 75 percent of the 1,650 students take remedial math classes. Mr. Chang uses what he calls the "grow your own problem-solving approach," a method developed by the Hungarian mathematician George Pólya in the 1940s, to help stimulate their interest in the subject.

"If you let three different students solve the same problem, you see different ways they approach solving it," Mr. Chang says. "If I let the student do it their own way, they really think about what they're doing. By also letting students continue the debate for 20 minutes afterward, it helps them understand the ways they got to the answer and learn from each other."

This emphasis on self-correction also translates into his attitude toward testing, which he does not use for grading. Instead he gives students the option of taking tests repeatedly if they don't pass the first time around. This, he says, gives them the chance to learn from their weaknesses and master the material before moving on to the next lesson.

Mr. Chang has provided math-instruction lessons to teachers at Alaskan high schools, as well as to professors in China during his sabbatical in 2009. A group of his former students have started a scholarship fund in his name, which awards at least $500 every year to an in-state student attending either Matanuska-Susitna or its parent institution, the University of Alaska at Anchorage.

John Zubizarreta

Professor of English, Columbia College (S.C.)

In one of his English classes, when his students read "A View of the Woods," a short story by Flannery O'Connor, they were appalled by a murder at the end. Mr. Zubizarreta devoted his next session to O'Connor's comedic writing style, but the students still couldn't see much humor in the story.

Three weeks later, the professor challenged his students to represent what they had learned in a creative way. When a group of them performed the same story as a puppet show, the rest of the class laughed.

"It was interesting that they laughed when the story was presented in a different medium," he says. "I wanted them to see the value of turning a short story into another medium, whether it was a puppet show or dance to music. That was one of those magical moments of teaching."

After seeing another presentation, a dance version of O'Connor's "The River," he encouraged two of the students who did it to present the work at the annual conference of the National Collegiate Honors Council.

Mr. Zubizarreta, director of faculty development and of the honors program at Columbia, says moments like those are what inspire him to teach at least one or two English classes each semester.

He calls this style of teaching "the reflective learning moment"—he wants students not only to think about class material, but also to monitor their own learning. For example, he requires them to keep in a portfolio all of their class assignments, whether a short quiz or a draft of a lengthy essay. Each week the students are required to turn in a 300-word reflection about the work they are producing. Mr. Zubizarreta, who learned of the method in a professional-development class, has used it as a component of his courses for 10 years.

"A lot of time, the process of learning is as important as the final product," he says. "I'm trying to plot a course for learning. I want students to be able to examine how they've acquired the knowledge and see where they are strong and where they are weak, so they can take those lessons with them into the future."

Teresa C. Balser

Associate professor of soil science, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Ms. Balser won't tell you what qualities make soil a good habitat. Rather, she'll ask students to develop a list of their own.

"If you ask a question, students take more ownership in their learning," she says. "It's representative of the process of science. If you don't know the answer, you have to ask questions and be creative."

Framing her classes around questions is her go-to teaching style, she says. That includes bringing in guest lecturers, like environmentalists to windmill builders, when questions arise that she can't answer. She has been doing that for seven of her nine years at Madison.

"It's amazing what happens when you invite in others to come to the table," she says. "They bring a wide range of real-world experiences that extends far beyond the classroom. It's important to realize that it doesn't have to just be me standing in front of a class to create learning."

One of Ms. Balser's goals is to cultivate an interest in environmental issues within all her students, even those who aren't biology majors.

"They are the citizens who will be voting, and I would love for all of my students to have a better understanding of what science is and understand where it fits in society," she says. "If they can realize they actually enjoy learning even in a class about dirt, they will have a better handle on how to deal with the complexities and change that will come up in their lifetime. They won't just accept climate change at face value, but will ask why."

Russell O. Colson

Professor of geology, Minnesota State University at Moorhead

Students in Mr. Colson's geology course don't learn about rock stratification in his classroom. They learn about it more than 300 miles away, at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, on the far side of North Dakota.

"The book of nature is always open," he says. "I want my students to work step by step to figure out scientific puzzles—and they have to observe how nature behaves in order to be successful."

Recalling his own research experiences in graduate school, Mr. Colson says he was inspired to incorporate "thought puzzles" in his classes. He includes field trips in 75 percent of his classes because they allow students to test the knowledge they've acquired in the classroom. For example, they can apply textbook lessons on examining sediments to see whether a glacial lake existed in what is now the national park.

When the class isn't on the road, students see how geysers work by using a syringe and water. When they observe what happens as they push the syringe, Mr. Colson says, they learn how pressure affects water temperature.

Mr. Colson goes beyond teaching basic scientific rules. He teaches how the rules can be applied on a practical level, he says. This is why he works alongside his students when they are in the field conducting scientific research. In fact, he has helped write reports and peer-reviewed journal articles with his students for the past 10 years.

"For me, graduate school was where the light bulb went on," he says. "But I don't want my students to have to wait. Solving puzzles is simply what real scientific thinking is all about."


1. johnsonr3 - November 18, 2010 at 08:57 am

I guess I was expecting the usual gang of suspects to rise up and denounce these creative and caring professionals who want to do more than read their dissertation or most recent research paper to their students in class as a substitute for teaching.

The lesson should be clear - if you have elected to TEACH in a SCHOOL your job is EDUCATION of the STUDENTS. Your life as an instructor, if this is the life you have chosen for yourself, puts the discipline of the scholar in dialog with the needs of the students. There are the inevitable letters that will come from professors (note that title is different from "scholar") who have bored students and dissed colleagues for 30 years and are bitter that they are not sufficiently appreciated. Read carefully, young scholars who elect to teach, and understand that the life of the mind in college classrooms need not be limited to the space between your own ears. Bright boys and girls you may be, but if you teach PLEASE take those who make your livlihood possible seriously, and help their minds find the delight in enlightenment you have found!

2. hildavcarpenter - November 18, 2010 at 09:41 am

Wohoo! Finally, Professors who understand the learning process is more than a one-way form of communication! Lucky students to have these guides to their education!

3. tappat - November 18, 2010 at 10:22 am

What are the conditions that allow or produce these award winners? What does it mean to decide to teach one or two English classes per year? And laughing at an insipid puppet show is hardly the same thing as cosmically finding glorious the violence a Xian God exercises, through various instruments, as O'Connor famously (or infamously, I suppose, if it really bothers you) depicts. I don't think these people understand the substance of what they are addressing in the college classes they are given. Perhaps this makes it easier today to be a great professor, in addition to the circumstances that make it possible for you to decide that you'll go ahead and teach a course, or two, this year.

4. physguy - November 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

Putting students in charge of learning? I certainly hope not. Students may enjoy making puppets, going on field trips, and voicing their opinions in group discussions, but I suspect part of their pleasure comes from the fact that such activities are easy -- and certainly easier than studying textbooks, pouring over lecture notes, and writing papers.

I fear the notion of "engaged learning" has gone too far in this country. Basically it shifts the responsibility for learning away from the student. If a student is apathetic and lazy, then that becomes the fault of the teacher fof not making the material more enjoyable.

I am not advocating dry-as-dust lectures, and I certainly am not suggesting that professors "read their dissertation" to their classes. However, it is wrong for students to expect their classes always to be fun and entertaining. Studying is hard work and learning is not always pleasurable, and when efforts to make it so go too far, the result is mostly a dumbing down of the curriculum. The responsibility for being intellectually engaged rests with the student, not the professor.

It is not surprising that college students in other countries consistently outperform their American counterparts.

5. annlevey - November 18, 2010 at 10:53 am

In response to tappat (#3) My guess would be that the positions of director of faculty development and honors director for Columbia come with a release from teaching responsibilities and what he means when he says that he chooses to teach one or two Enlgish classes a year is that he chooses to do it despite not being contractually obligated. That's a real teacher to me.

6. drolaoye - November 18, 2010 at 10:59 am

The above methods presume that students are already motivated to learn. When students are juggling work and family responsibilities and are not yet committed to their own growth and learning, this method is less effective. This happens often in community and four year colleges. Ignoring this is addressing an elite group of students, only. Mastery learning is something that I believe in, but it should be how homework and class and activities are managed, with lots of feedback and analysis of why things were misunderstood. Then comes THE TEST. Using the test for in the manner described in the article has contributed to problems in academia today with students not putting the time to gain mastery but always wanting to challenge the test.
Professors not taking control and providing a good mix of lecture, activity and testing undermines the whole process of learning in a structured environment. If students are paying for assistance in learning, it presupposes some active interventions on the part of the professor that include pacing , pressure, testing, challenge, etc. Trying to be a friend to students is not the most critical feature of being a professor.
The dichotomies posed in the article, learning not lecturing, inspiring not processing, exploring not just explaining are all false polarities. Each have a place in the classroom. There is a critical balance between them that needs to achieved each and every day. I appreciate the alliteration but placing them in a dynamic relationship to each other is the VERY REAL WORK of TEACHING/LEARNING PARTNERSHIP.

7. sahmphd - November 18, 2010 at 11:20 am

Tapppat (#3) asks "What are the conditions that allow or produce these award winners?" Certainly, not environments populated by individuals such as physguy (#5) who asserts that "Students may enjoy making puppets, going on field trips, and voicing their opinions in group discussions, but I suspect part of their pleasure comes from the fact that such activities are easy -- and certainly easier than studying textbooks, pouring over lecture notes, and writing papers." My service-learning classes demand that students read the books and apply and reflect deeply on what they are reading. They are rigorous and, depending on the type of project, demand that students make decisions on their own (guided, when needed by faculty or community partner). This means students have more power than is typical in a college classroom. Students who prefer to sit in lecture classes watching powerpoint slide shows are usually the only ones who complain about the difficulty and the rigor of the course.

8. books4jocks - November 18, 2010 at 11:41 am

I think it's interesting that in these discussions, people always assume that if students enjoy it, it must not be actual learning. Where did we get this absurd notion that learning isn't pleasurable? That it is always challenging, difficult, and somber? Educational research on learning cites authenticity and student engagement as the top ways to get students to learn, and here we have demonstrations of how this does work for students, and in come the complaints that these are "too easy" and therefore "not real learning." Is it any wonder that our students hate school when the vision of learning promoted by so many teachers is one of suffering? Trust me, physguy: I am quite sure students do not expect school to be fun or exciting. It is pretty often a place of boredom, failure, and confusion for students. ALWAYS pleasurable? No. But can it and should it be pleasurable as often as possible -- why NOT?

9. rjsax - November 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

Like the Supreme Court justice who once said something like, "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it," great teaching is much the same way, it is hard to define, but we know it when we are in the presence of it. Most great teachers don't fit a mold, are often unorthodox, irreverent, moody, and often even stereotypes of BAD teaching in some ways....

10. lmburns - November 18, 2010 at 11:59 am

Re: to PhysGuy---I don't think putting students in charge of their own learning has to always mean the work is fun and easy all the time. It means a teacher is for once not teaching AT the students, but inspiring them to make the subject meaningful for themselves. You can tell me why physics is important and what it special to you, but if that doesn't translate to what inspires me, if your version of physics doesn't light MY brain up...then I won't learn from you. Period.

11. lmburns - November 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Re: Books4jocks--I like.

12. henr1055 - November 18, 2010 at 01:01 pm

This all presupposes that the students who are teaching themselves are prepared for a university education. Try it with a student with an 800 SAT and limited college preparatory courses and see what happens when you put them in charge of their own learning.

In Europe getting into a University is highly selective. In many cases only 50% of the lower school students are selected to attned Gymnasium (college prep 3 years)Only half the Gymnasium students are selected for a university hence you see a lot of international students in the US seeking solace in our system. In one country in Europe students have a year of that nasty thing called Lectures if they are in social sciences or business and the next 2 years are group projects. The next two years are for a master's degree and are all group projects

AS soon as they put Medical Students in charge of their own teaching and learning then people will take this seriously and medical students are among the best prepared students in the graduate educational system.

Teaching physics to people who do not know the order of operations for mathmatics does not lend itself to turning over the learning to the students.

13. archman - November 18, 2010 at 01:27 pm

I wish I could use innovative methods like these. Unfortunately, I'm in a STEM field and have to teach a buttload of content in oversized classrooms. There is no time nor enough F2F to have puppet shows, or have students perform individial or group thought exercises. Neither is it possible to do field trips. Options for me are highly limited.

I personally find that allowing students to keep retaking their exams does less to improve actual learning that it does to artificially boost scores. After all, students can simply copy answers off other students' exams, or simply keep plugging multiple choice answers until they finally hit the correct answer. This is a very bad instructional model unless carefully managed by the instructor (e.g. retakes of "new" tests, no sharing of exams by students, essay tests etc.).

14. blesstayo - November 18, 2010 at 01:31 pm

Is Professor Chang a great teacher and mathematician? "Instead he gives students the option of taking tests repeatedly if they don't pass the first time around. This, he says, gives them the chance to learn from their weaknesses and master the material before moving on to the next lesson" Is this reflective of the real world?

Does anyone has suggestions for me about students who miss classes, refuse to do homework assignments, reject group activities and refuse to be engaged in class discussions? These students have received As and Bs in a lower level Statistics course prior to taking my class. They claim that they have forgotten everything they learned during the Spring semester. Now, I am a poor teacher who has become their scapegoat. Guess what? I have professors and administrators who have asked me to tone down my expectations and course requirements. I have been told to "teach to the students you have and not those you wish you had!"

15. ethnicam - November 18, 2010 at 02:31 pm

@henr1055 who poses the challenge:
"Try it with a student with an 800 SAT and limited college preparatory courses and see what happens when you put them in charge of their own learning."

Did you bother to read the section about Prof. Chang?

"At his small community college near Anchorage, in southern Alaska, about 75 percent of the 1,650 students take remedial math classes."

Remediation is about repetition, but it needn't be boringly so. He understands who his students are and how best to connect with them, and, more importantly, how to get them to eengage a fruitful learning process. Try it sometime.

16. amy_l - November 18, 2010 at 02:40 pm

I'd love to do weekly journals where students reflect on their learning, but I need to know how I can do that with 150 students and still get my research done. Sure, I could do it if I gave no feedback to the students, but I assume that would undermine the purpose of the exercise.

Instead of placing all the responsibility on teachers to "be inspiring" and to "truly care about teaching", we should be looking at systemic factors that place obstacles in the way of effective education. Overly large classes, underprepared and unengaged students, and heavy research demands all play a role.

Regarding students, I think there are ways an individual professor can improve student engagement and effort, but the only way I know of to do that is to interact with students one-on-one over a sustained period of time. That can't happen in overly large courses.

17. books4jocks - November 18, 2010 at 02:57 pm

amy_l, your point is well-taken. It's easy to shine a light on individual teachers in situations that are ideal and say that everyone should be able to achieve this, when so few of us are fortunate to have small classes or a reduced teaching load. That being said, we who are passionate about teaching should look for answers to the questions here. What methods of engagement can be used for larger-scale courses, or classes like archman's that require a lot of content to be shared in a compressed time frame? Let's acknowledge the limitations, but not think in a binary about this. Big classes don't eradicate the potential for connection or engagement. So, let's use the comments to think of ways that can be fostered even in big classes. Ideas off the top of my head:

- Maybe you can't do weekly learning journals for everyone, but you might be able to do weekly journals for 1/4 of students every week, with every student doing a journal about once a month. Better than nothing, and a chance for one-on-one connection.
- Better use of office hours: ask students to come in small groups during the first three weeks of class. F2F without toooo much more time on your part.
- Multimedia teaching can be implemented in lecture-based courses, and student groups can do presentations or lead lessons with professorial guidance.
- think about the practical and real-world applications or implications of your subject and include them in activities or lectures.

18. david_r_abraham - November 18, 2010 at 05:45 pm

The goal of higher education is education. It is refreshing to read the unique methods and the intentional fine-tuning of the teaching process to achieve specific learning objectives. I think it is critical that teachers adapt their delivery methodologies to suit the content and the nature of the students who bring their creativity, inquisitiveness, and curiosity to bear on the gel of teaching and learning. My kudos goes to these professors. May their tribe increase.

19. eslombard - November 18, 2010 at 06:58 pm

This is one of the most affecting articles I've noted in a long time. I was inspired by 75 year old prof.emeritus Child at U of P in 1940 who held our huge freshman class in his thrall. So inspired was I by his methods that I was inspired to innovate all through my 40 years of teaching. Unsaid in the above comments is the need for the engagingly authentic personality and character of the teacher and the students' sense that their teacher really cares about each of them personally and academically. It's easier than it appears: you have to be real and to care.

20. dboyles - November 18, 2010 at 08:31 pm

Giving students multiple retakes can certainly operate to slow down coverage of required content (dirty word that be) as well as distract from study of current material. Self-correction without accountability, one component of which includes deadlines to assist students move along rather than dawdle? Not certain how well this would work. My students who engage in extracurricular activities sometimes discover that the demand I give makeup work simply saddles them with twice as much work (makeups plus current work) upon their return from extracurricular activities, work they do ultimately do half as well. Any of us who do professional travel know the same--extra work just to get out of town and twice as much upon return. Totally unclear why multiple retakes would be considered an all-around virtue, if so it is.

Develop a list of qualities that make soil a good habitat? Okay, but as a student I would rather go to a good library and inform myself over a few hours study what those who know what they are talking about have already determined. It's not a matter of opinion, is it? Isn't it known as soil "science"?

Using a syringe with water in it to discover how a geyser works? Have these students never watered the lawn and kinked a hose to ascertain pressure? (I do like the field trip experience, but then, a good text also presents a remarkable experience, IF that experience is structured, for it will not happen 'automatically' as we all know. http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/learning-centered-pedagogy/25052

As for making content 'inspiring' any music performance major will tell you the same thing as did Edison: 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. My students in organic chemistry who are the most successful in class are those who have some music in their background or who are oftentimes student atheletes who realize there are rules of the game and that mastery of the game takes work. In the case of basic science education that means intellectual work for which there is no substitute and for which there is a highly competitive publishing market with texts replete with all sorts of wonderful things so that students don't have to discover them on their own(and I am quick to indicate that chemistry and most science education has a laboratory component for select experiments to assure more 'immediate' experience of text phenomena). Caveat: I am not teaching remedial classes, but hopefully preparing competitive science and engineering leaders for tomorrow. Likewise, my hat is off to students in literature and philosophy for their commitment to first-hand reading of classic novels and difficult texts, however dry many without passion for them might regard them.

"Fun" is not something outside the material content of our courses, but exists in the content itself. But it must be discovered. If I believed my students would prepare themselves to ask engaging questions in class by preparing their minds with assigned readings before they came to each class I would supplement their reading experience with all kinds of fun things beyond the text and we would have remarkable in-class discussions. I have never found it works that way, however. The majority simply come to class unprepared if they even come to class at all. Frankly, the text is full of all kinds of wonderful things that must be READ. Is it the "fun" that other venues of society offer? No, nor will it ever be. We yet call it "education" for that reason, or so I thought.

Hats off in any case (in spite of my comments) to the awardees; may they enjoy the limelight. It would be of interest to know whether over the course of their careers they will exchange their current strategies for others as they realize the limits inherent to any given strategy. I certainly did when I came to understand that students "really enjoyed" my lectures and remembered how much fun they had in my class when I was an assistant professor, but in many cases didn't learn a thing they could relate to another other than "it was fun."

21. rethinking - November 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

Here's hoping that a new generation of teachers (or creative teachers in any generation) will inspire students to believe that they have the ability to be engaged learners. Perhaps students are already so exhausted from the boring "learning" environment of K-12 education once they enter college.

As college-level teachers, we need to cultivate college-level inquiry, regardless of student's performance level upon entry. Every generation has different learning needs, and it does not serve our students to be stuck in the status quo. The status quo has no place in any level of education. It is our job to challenge the status quo.

22. archman - November 19, 2010 at 10:44 am

Unfortunately, challenging the status quo is not made any easier with massively overloaded classrooms, additional teaching loads, additional bureaucracy (e.g. "assessment"), eroded faculty governance, diminished funding, and poorly prepared/motivated students. The biggest two assets to good instruction (small classes and plenty of time) are unavailable.

In today's world, almost all the tools that would make a good instructor into a great instructor is out of the reach of most of us. It is very difficult just to *maintain* educational quality nowadays. While it often is possible to make our classrooms more *entertaining*, maintaining standards and getting high performance from our students remains the elusive challenge.

23. rethinking - November 19, 2010 at 11:27 am

Who said anything about teaching being "easy"? If we expect our students to go above and beyond, we better be the doing the same.

24. lfhs32 - November 19, 2010 at 12:41 pm

physguy, are you kidding? Do you know how EASY it is to merely read from textbooks, study notes and write papers? By the time the good students get to college, they've been at that same process for, what, 10 years? Because it becomes such a simplified system from doing it for so long, it's very easy to gloss over actual long-term learning (often not intentionally). I'm a sophomore in college, and by far the easiest of my classes are always the ones that only require these traditional types of learning strategies.

For students, it's often beneficial for an instructor to design these non-traditional forms of learning because it helps us see the concepts differently from what we can get from the passivity of textbook reading and note-taking. For many of these subjects, we definitely are not experts coming in, so it's fairly difficult to think critically about the concepts or apply them in original ways. When we have an expert (professor) who is able to present the problems differently or guide us as we attempt to apply them, rather than just telling us what they know, it is much more beneficial.

25. marysol - November 19, 2010 at 11:00 pm

I am a recent graduate of Columbia College and a student of Dr. John Zubizarreta, or Dr. "Z" as he is known on campus. Columbia College is a small, private women's university in Columbia, SC. I took Dr. Z's famous English 102 Honors class, participated in conferences with him, and had the privilege of having him as an academic advisor. He is an excellent example of an educator that puts all of himself and all of his energy into teaching and inspiring. I am irritated by the comments I have read on this article that assumes that his classes were in any way less challenging or academically rigorous than traditional ones. Teaching students to teach themselves, search for answers outside of the book, and actively reflect on the learning process are methods that are by no means an easy way through a class. In Dr. Z's class it was never enough to restate a summary, write a padded essay with no substance, or "zone" out in class. We were actively involved inside and outside of the classroom in our reading and assignments. The online threaded discussions that were a mandatory part of the reflection process inspired weeklong discussions on the themes and stereotypes that were present in the literature. It was not uncommon for us, as first year students, to suddenly relate a part of Dr. Z's class to another class or make outside connections to the literature and rush to make a reflection on it, even if it was 2AM on a weekend. Dr. Z pulled us, pushed us, prodded us, and inspired us to make our own decisions about what a piece of literature meant to the reader, to a culture, or to a specific history. It was not enough just to make these decisions; we had to prove our decisions in reflections, debates, papers, and yes - creative presentations. We were never force fed and the assumption that putting students in charge or learning somehow diminishes the quality of learning is absurd. Memorization and regurgitation are not skills that will provide success in the real world.

Dr. Z teaches one or two courses a semester ON TOP of running the award winning Honors College, serving as a faculty advisor, advising undergraduate students, working within the National Collegiate Honors Council (as the immediate past president), and continuing to research and publish. He is the epicenter of the university experience for Honors students graduating for Columbia College not only for his unique approach to teaching but also for the personal attention he gives each of his students. He knows us all by name. He remembers our majors, our goals and dreams, and our most embarrassing or funny classroom moments. He reminds us of who we were when we came to Columbia College as first years students in orientation. He reminds of who we are now and what we have accomplished in four short years. He encourages us to continue to evolve after graduation to overcome challenges and become the women we have always been capable of being.

26. marysol - November 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm

& I apologize for comma splicing. I was a Poli Sci major, not an English major.

27. alechosterman - November 20, 2010 at 12:42 pm

First off, I'll do what no one else has done yet - congratulations to the four winners. Regardless of your personal beliefs, they were chosen and deserve a congratulatory pat on the back.

For those who don't think these four are deserving of the accolade, or are challenging their pedagogical style, I encourage to you to rethink your opinion. From my perspective, you are making decisions about their teaching careers based upon (approx.) 300 words of content for each person. Summarizing an individual's long and distinguished career, varying pedagogical styles, service to the community and university, and success with student learning really can't be done like that. For those in the Academy, 300 word annual reports, re-appointment dossiers, and/or tenure or promotion dossiers would be laughed at. So why do you think you have enough information to make similar assumptions?

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education seems to have an application process that has a rather thorough vetting process. It might be advantageous to review some of the winners from the past (since 1981) and the overall process, especially if you are weary of the winners chosen: http://www.usprofessorsoftheyear.org/.

Okay, I'm done. Continue discussing amongst yourselves....

28. 22086364 - November 22, 2010 at 10:43 am

CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners, and congratulations to your schools and your students.

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