Winners of the Inaugural Faculty Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Counseling and Librarianship SelectedShare
Congratulations to the five winners of the Faculty Association Awards for Excellence in Teaching, Counseling and Librarianship who were announced at Academic Assembly on Thursday, August 21, 2014:
- Carl Creasman, professor of history, East Campus
- Kristiann Dougherty, professor of biology, Lake Nona Campus
- Shahnaz Kanani, professor of biology, West Campus
- Cate McGowan, professor of English, Winter Park Campus
- Mollie McLaughlin, professor of speech, East Campus
The Collegewide Faculty Association offered this award for the first time this year and invited students, faculty and staff to nominate professors, counselors and librarians who have demonstrated effective and innovative teaching methods and a continuing commitment to student success through student engagement both inside and outside the classroom. Nearly 130 faculty, including full-time and part-time, were nominated, some more than once. After nominations were received, candidates were asked to submit a portfolio with a narrative along with other materials and artifacts from courses they have taught and/or samples of materials from other teaching and learning activities. A selection committee, comprised of representatives from different campuses and departments, reviewed all the materials and selected the five winners among the 63 portfolios submitted by nominees.
Each winner received $1,000, a commemorative plaque and recognition at Academic Assembly. Prizes were sponsored by the Valencia College Foundation.
Carl Creasman considers his use of techniques and strategies from the world of gaming to be his most innovative change incorporated in the classroom. Over the years, he has spoken with students about what they perceive to be the greatest struggle regarding learning history. Many students reported that the nature of the class being a “survey class” is an issue, because they can never “go deeper” into things that interest them.
Students often complain that history does not pertain to them or is only about “dead old white guys.” At the same time, multiple conversations with students confirm that many young adults engage in “gaming” with great zeal. Some of them have told Carl of their excitement about a new game or gaming system. As a “gamer” from his youth, Carl believes that gaming can help improve enjoyment in learning, especially in a topic like history.
Kristiann Dougherty spends the first week of her fundamentals of biology class getting to know her students’ names and educational/career goals. Most of her students are interested in pursuing a science-based career. During this discussion, she emphasizes the time and effort required to succeed in this majors-level course and promotes the importance of building a strong knowledge base for their subsequent course work.
Kristiann has developed engaging activities with an eye toward ensuring student success. She has also been involved with developing and implementing a collegewide biology placement test and has presented a Skillshop at Lake Nona and East Campuses entitled “How to Succeed in Science Courses.” Kristiann has been the lead faculty member in developing a new STEM-specific version of the New Student Experience course.
Shahnaz Kanani has discovered that it is possible to help students overcome their weaknesses by helping them to develop strengths, improve their interpersonal skills and learn a focused study skill. Successful learning is based on two main conditions: students being engaged and having their learning progress monitored closely and regularly. Shahnaz developed a variety of active learning activities throughout her lecture and lab and gave students the opportunity to explore and discover the details of a concept on their own and through collaboration with their peers.
In turn, she assesses student comprehension, analytical ability and problem solving skills and develops collaborative active learning techniques taking into consideration their thinking styles, personalities, knowledge, learning styles, ethnicity, age, language and other factors. Shahnaz regularly searches for innovative techniques to encourage each student to become an active, enthusiastic learner and leave the shell of a passive learner behind.
Cate McGowan’s goal as a teacher is to challenge students to work harder and attain far-reaching goals. She accomplishes this by creating a supportive learning environment. By bringing passion, energy and enthusiasm to the classroom, she encourages students to commit themselves to the practice of lifelong learning. She exhibits her own dedication to the same principle by discussing her ongoing outside writing projects.
Cate has recently designed three lessons and learning units that showcase her teaching abilities. One of them is an online lesson for drafting a research paper in which she provides learning-centered activities that aim to improve students’ ability to compose a research essay. Students explore a subject they have chosen, plan a course of research and write it out step-by-step with her leading them through a draft. This comprehensive unit allows students to ponder the process of writing, and it creates a comfortable writing springboard for the rest of their college careers.
The most innovative teaching methods Mollie McLaughlin has developed focus on building a sense of purpose and connection and establishing a healthy and respectful environment for learning. She has been able to develop ways for students to experience and practice what they are learning more directly — whether that’s a trip around campus to engage in nonverbal observations or role playing and workshops in the classroom — engagement has been key to their success.
In both her speech and interpersonal courses, she designs the assessments to show students how far they’ve come in the course work. One of her favorite examples of this is the final project for one of her classes. She asks students to use their best communication competency skills in a challenging conversation with someone they stereotype or experience conflict with that makes it difficult for them to communicate well. The project was inspired by a TED Talk given by Elizabeth Lesser called “Take the Other to Lunch.” She used this inspiration to design a project that would create enough tension to bring a student’s common communication challenges to light.