Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2014

Faculty Award winner

Jennifer Sandoval

 College of Sciences

 Nicholson School of Communication

The teaching profession is rich with opportunities to contribute in both academic and personal ways to society and individuals. It is critical that, as educators, we employ an ethic of engagement and reflexivity when it comes to our teaching practices. I strive to enact what Tobin Hart (2007) calls a "pedagogy of interiority." Hart says:

Our most sustainable and valuable educational goals do not have much to do with test scores, instead they have something to do with a balance between preparing young people for surviving and thriving in the world while developing their authentic inner potentials. (2007, pg. 2)

It is my continual goal to create an environment of curiosity, compassion, and intensive reflection where students come to know themselves and their strengths beyond a single classroom. Through teaching the practice of contemplation and reflexivity, I invite students to participate in their education in a deeply meaningful way, by moving beyond the basic content competency toward mindfulness in thought and behavior.

I believe one can never rely on method single teaching method to achieve learning goals. You must engage as many senses as possible and appeal to several intelligences at once. Every student has the ability to be successful in at least one way – the key is offering enough options so they can experience achievement every semester. It is always an exciting challenge for me to see if I can find a way for students to see, hear, touch, and move with the concept that is being introduced. With each new issue I strive to incorporate a current local, international or controversial path into that subject.

Learning is a good faith partnership between teacher and student. Instruction is most effective when motivation, analysis, and action are all considered and complementary. For students to engage in active learning they must feel a desire and a drive to do so. This is an intrinsic emotional response that can be moved by an instructor through our own passion, experience, and creativity. Once an individual experiences motivation, analysis is a critical step to understanding and comprehension of theory and material – this is active thought. A final step in the education process is that of turning thought into behavior.

Working with college students allows me to participate in a unique moment in their lives. It is a challenging time for them, but also one that includes excitement, personal development, and the formation of goals and dreams for their life. The results of the work we put in as teachers are not always seen immediately. I treasure the emails I receive from former students who have found that something from my course has impacted their life after college. I am satisfied with knowing that I am planting seeds that may not sprout above the surface for years to come.