Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2013

Faculty Award winner

Ilenia Colon Mendoza

 College of Arts and Humanities

 School of Visual Arts and Design

As an educator I believe learning should be a pleasant and interactive activity; I see learning as an experience in and of itself. For the teaching process to be successful, it must be student centered. The first step in achieving a student-centered environment is to make students feel comfortable enough to express themselves while at the same time relating to the course material. It is of invaluable importance to be familiar with the students themselves—their name, major, and art interests—as this will foster a strong interpersonal relationship between teacher and student. Also essential is the implementation of learning tips that afford the students the tools necessary to succeed in the classroom. To approach a question or solve a problem, I teach students to think in successive steps; I call it my "Big-to-Little" system, as they should analyze artworks from a general standpoint and then move on to the more specific.

The assessment of the art-historical material is made possible through the use of visual aids such as PowerPoint presentations and films that are essential in any art history class. This combined with topic-specific readings and extracurricular activities, such as museum visits, that allow students to interact firsthand with works of art are key elements to a successful and meaningful learning experience. Methodologically, I prefer the chronological approach to teaching art history and apply the traditional compare-and-contrast technique in which students are encouraged to think critically about a pair of images. The student-centered learning environment is furthered through the combination of the lecture format with intervals of discussion and analysis of artworks.

I motivate students by sharing my enthusiasm and love of art. My aim is to get students to at least appreciate what I study, and if they learn to love it, that is even better. My teaching philosophy simply stated is devotion, dedication, and passion.

As educators we teach because there are students to be taught, and therefore the student must come first. Because I serve as the door between them and the unique world of art history, I find it is my responsibility to provide students with the best possible view into that world and most importantly to help them enter it well prepared.