Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2014

Faculty Award winner

Drew Lanier

 College of Sciences

 Political Science

Students retain more of course material when they are active learners.

Employing a mixture of lecture and the Socratic Method allows me to both communicate the course's basic concepts and ideas and assess students' comprehension of the material.

Students will retain more of the course material if it is relevant to them.

I frequently offer examples and concepts to consider, making the material more vibrant than if it were discussed only abstractly. Asking students if they can provide examples of important concepts also facilitates student-focused learning.

Students learn through repetition.

All students are able to learn the material if they are exposed to it several times in various ways. Thus, I strongly encourage my students to read before coming to class. We then cover the material during class, and then I refer to preceding concepts.

Criteria-based evaluations are a more valid than norm-referenced evaluations.

My students quickly realize that if they know what I emphasize in class, then they will do well in the class regardless of how other students fared. This is a more valid manner by which to assess student comprehension than outright competition. Also, criteria-based evaluations promote cooperative and student-centered learning, which I encourage through optional, student-organized study groups.

Students are more engaged in the course when the professor cares about them.

Many students believe that they are simply a number to many professors. To emphasize their individuality, I make a seating chart of all of my students and learn their names and the proper pronunciation of them. I encourage students to visit me during office hours and give extensive feedback on each of their assignments.

My research improves my teaching.

Engaging in original research keeps me current on the field's existing literature and I, thus, can better explain how the concepts are relevant to the students. This emphasis on relevancy is important to students because some see the subject as distant to them.

Teaching is a learning process for me.

Each time I teach, I learn new ways to present the material, what to emphasize and how to best communicate course content. Teaching is an ever-evolving craft where I myself am the student seeking a more profound, transformative understanding of the course material. To be a good teacher, I must first be an active and engaged learner.