Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2011

Faculty Award winner

Rani Vajravelu

 College of Sciences

 Department of Biology

My teaching philosophy is to provide the best pedagogical experience that opens avenues for life-long learning. I help students to develop an appreciation for the course content which will prepare them for the work force and real world situations.

I strongly believe that high quality education also can be cost effective. I work hard within my ability to keep the costs of course textbooks and supplements under control. When I require a technology gadget, I use it productively towards enhancing the learning experience. I make my lectures engaging and PowerPoint slides original. I write my own tests without relying on publisher‘s test banks and use strict measures to avoid plagiarism. I employ a variety of teaching strategies that include real samples, storytelling, fun facts, study sessions and problem solving. I take advantage of Webcourses features and integrate all dimensions of multimedia to promote active learning. To ease large classroom anxiety for freshmen students, I offer extended office hours both online and in person. I routinely assess the effectiveness of my teaching strategies, which has allowed me to make presentations in national and international conferences and workshops.

I set high expectations for my students, include rigorous course work and monitor their progress. I employ time-tested methods like field identification, dissection, illustration, and herbarium voucher specimens that are disappearing from most curricula. I encourage them to construct their own experiments, analyze data critically, and write and present scientific papers. Whenever necessary, I help and mentor students in Independent Research studies.

I bring in personal field experience from around the world in all of my classrooms. I extend my classroom skills to help out local residents in plant identification, work closely with the Student Sustainability Alliance and introduce students to the pleasures of organic gardening. In summary, I serve as a good role model to students through my passion and dedication to the subject that extends beyond the classroom to the community.