Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2011

Faculty Award winner

Hakan Ozoglu

 College of Arts and Humanities

 Department of History

As an integral part of the Humanities/Liberal Arts curriculum, courses on history serve a double purpose; one is that history provides students with a narrative and informs them about significant problems/issues in the instructor‘s own field. The second purpose is more skill oriented. It aims at producing students who can think, who can apply information for global comparison, who can do basic research and who can communicate their ideas efficiently.

An emphasis on critical thinking, I believe, is a high priority in teaching history. Therefore, I incorporate the Socratic teaching method to my teaching. The Socratic Method is one of the oldest and effective ways of teaching of subjects particularly in the Humanities. I believe this method greatly fosters critical thinking. I probe my students‘ minds by continuously posing questions (rather than giving them the answers) and ask them to pose questions. To further practice this critical thinking skill, I ask students to construct two questions based upon their assigned reading, which then are used as springboards for class discussions.

Furthermore, I strongly believe that a distinction between critical thought and judgmental attitudes should be made. Reminding students regularly that one does not have the right to judge individuals, groups, events and movements is imperative. Therefore, I direct my students to understand “what happened” and more importantly “why it happened” and to refrain from being judgmental of different cultures, civilizations or groups we study.

Conducting basic research is another important skill to obtain from history courses. Like critical thinking, the ability to do basic research separates university education from job training. I believe that the ability to conduct research on a given subject is essential for undergraduates and imperative for graduate students. To achieve this aim, I ask students to select a subject with my consent and conduct in-depth research and present it. I also assist my students in the process of research by introducing them to some basic research tools and methods.