Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2015

Faculty Award winner

Ezekiel Walker

 College of Arts & Humanities

 History

Teaching is my passion. For me the classroom provides a forum both for the impartation of knowledge and for the exchange of ideas, those of my students, and those of the authors we read. Through our interaction, I find that I am intellectually challenged and fulfilled. In order to facilitate an intellectual atmosphere that benefits both students and me, I have three pedagogical goals:

a.       To encourage students to think critically

b.      To have students analyze historical events from a wide range of perspectives in order to appreciate the complexity of the historical process.

c.       To discourage students from taking events at face value, but to have them ask basic questions regarding why events happen, how they happen, and to critically analyze outcomes.

I employ a teaching format that combines lectures with the Socratic approach, hoping to create a classroom setting where students can express their opinions freely. I emphasize the fact that there are no right or wrong answers in historical debates, but the process of historical analysis depends upon solid evidence, logical arguments, and strong contextualization. To encourage critical thinking, and also enable students to comprehend the intricacies of the historical process, I use primary documents, films, and historical novels. Further, in order to enliven the readings and the lectures, I supplement some topics with video presentations and personal anecdotes about Africa thus further solidifying the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Because writing is indispensable to the study of history, students do a substantial amount of writing in all of my classes to sharpen their writing skills.

My teaching is closely linked to my research, as I have been able to integrate a lot of my findings in the field in my classes. Born and raised in Africa and having received academic training in both Africa and the United States, I have been able to infuse a cross-cultural perspective into my classes. In all of my classes, I emphasize the interconnectedness of cultures and civilizations. Since 2010, I have continued to contribute to UCF’s mission of internationalizing and diversifying the curriculum by significantly revising five preexisting courses, and by giving guest lectures on campus. I continue to set high academic standards by preparing thoughtful lectures and by devoting time to mentoring students.