Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2013

Faculty Award winner

Carol Bast

 College of Health and Public Affairs

 Legal Studies

Teaching is a multidimensional activity that focuses on learning outcomes and the best methods for achieving those outcomes while measuring student achievement and providing feedback to students.

Learning outcomes are directly related to the instructional objectives for a particular class. Al-though I teach a number of different classes, I have a similar goal in each. First, students should be aware of basic information relevant to the subject matter of the class. The information should be structured so that students master concepts, rather than memorize a body of knowledge. In addition, students should be able to analyze, evaluate, and apply the information. The learning outcomes I expect from the students in my legal research and legal writing classes are described in the book I coauthored, Foundations of Legal Research and Writing.

When I plan a course, I search for the instructional delivery strategy best suited to the subject matter. A major concern is using an instructional method that will encourage students to internalize the subject matter. One way to achieve this goal is to make students active participants in the learning process.

As I develop my materials prior to teaching a class, I brainstorm on how I will grade the students. Grading serves a number of purposes. Grades given during the semester show students what they have mastered and not mastered and "nudge" them to do better next time. These "interim grades" are important because they give students needed feedback during the semester and allow students to redirect course if necessary. The semester grade evaluates how well students have learned the material. Legal writing documents are particularly hard to evaluate. The grading sheets I developed to facilitate grading and student feedback are described in the article "A Solution to the Evaluation Dilemma."

I have certain expectations for how my students will perform in a particular class. I am continually reevaluating my expectations to make sure they are reasonable, sometimes in the middle of the semester. Grades are based on the comparison of how students have performed and my expectations of student performance in the class.