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Teaching Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2021 UF Teaching Award Winners

From Art 100 to Physics 101, about 500 different instructors teach Boise State’s Foundational courses for non-majors. These teachers are responsible for approximately one-third of all the courses students take. Yet their essential work has often gone unrecognized.

That’s why the General Education Committee of Boise State’s faculty senate created the University Foundations Teaching Awards. The following faculty were nominated by students, fellow instructors, or department chairs based on evidence of exemplary teaching, creativity in course design or implementation, and excellence in translating disciplinary methods of inquiry to non-majors.

Unfortunately, this year’s teaching awards ceremony couldn’t take place in person. But we hope this year’s winners still feel acknowledged and proud of their accomplishments. Do you see colleagues on the winner’s list below? Make sure to congratulate them.

2021 Award Winners

  • Foundations of Written Communication: Ti Macklin
  • Foundations of Oral Communication: Anna New
  • Foundations of Humanities: Fatima Cornwall
  • Foundations of Mathematics: Gary Hagerty
  • Foundations of Natural, Physical, and Applied Sciences: Daniel Luna
  • Foundations of Social Sciences: Suzanne Sermon
  • Foundations of Arts: Jacob Banholzer
  • UF 100: Foundations of Intellectual Life: Brian Jackson
  • UF 200: Foundations of Ethics and Diversity: Tim Guill
  • Finishing Foundations: Brad Coats

 

FOUNDATIONS OF WRITTEN COMMUNICATION

Ti Macklin

Ti Macklin’s nomination reflects her history of designing exciting courses centered on student success. For example, associate director of First Year Writing Dawn Shepard noted that when presented with the opportunity to create and teach an online ENGL 101 section to accommodate 275 first-semester, first-year students (amid the pandemic!) “She accepted the challenge with enthusiasm,” and developed an innovative course “supported through discussion groups led by graduate teaching assistants; it not only allowed for flexibility in instructional capacity during an especially challenging semester but also offered a distinctive approach to mentoring new TAs.”

Ti Macklin’s skill as a teaching mentor and her strong record of student success, is captured in the comments of several students who took the time to nominate her for this award.

One student writes: “I nominated Dr. Macklin because she was always very thorough and clear when explaining assignments. She went above and beyond when helping students, and I felt comfortable asking questions in class. It’s easy to tell that she is passionate about English and cares about the success of her students.”

Another student says, “with her ability to engage non-English majors, the class wasn’t just bearable due to her teaching style, it was enjoyable,”

A third perhaps sums it up best: “English was always boring for me in school and I would always skate by without actually engaging with the material. Both ENGL 101 and ENGL 102 made me enjoy writing again.”

 

FOUNDATIONS OF ORAL COMMUNICATION

Anna New

Anna New was nominated for her excellence in engaging the interest of non-majors and her success in helping students achieve one of the key goals of Comm 101, confidence–the confidence that will allow them to grow as oral communicators and public speakers at Boise State.

In writing about her teaching, Anna notes that she tries “to make public speaking a ‘daily habit’ where informal speaking moments are created in the classroom.” Anna also develops the habit of confidence by allowing students to speak about their own interests and majors, from a compelling Flipgrid elevator pitch about their career plans at the beginning of the semester to a later speech educating their peers about a topic in their area of study.

When commenting on the course, students note the growth of their confidence, poise, and preparedness over and over again. One student nominator, representative of several, writes:I think one of the most valuable things I learned during this semester was being confident in my speeches and also learning how to be prepared . . .. Anna New is an amazing teacher and works well with her students. I would definitely recommend her.”

 

FOUNDATIONS OF HUMANITIES

Fatima Cornwall

Fatima Cornwall’s students describe her as “passionate,” “fair,” “knowledgeable,” “dedicated,” “interactive,” “intelligent,” “kind,” “helpful,” “patient,” “engaging,” and “professional” . . . and point out the variety and creativity of their learning activities, while peer observers comment on the artful way she scaffolds linguistic competencies throughout the semester and in each class meeting.

After the disrupted Spring 2020 semester, of the 86 total students who completed an evaluation for her courses, an amazing 100% of them stated enthusiastically that they would recommend her to others.

As one representative student wrote: “ABSOLUTELY 100000 times yes! Fatima is a hands-on instructor willing to help students more than any other professor I have had. The detail in her course instruction was wonderful. I loved the easy way to follow google classroom. She made learning enjoyable.”

 

FOUNDATIONS OF MATHEMATICS

Gary Hagerty

Gary Hagerty not only teaches introductory mathematics courses, including College Algebra and Pre-Calculus, but is also the director of Boise State’s Math Learning Center.

He redesigned Math 103, 133, 143, 144, and 149 to address academic skills and help students understand what they need to do to be successful. For example, he has introduced software that helps students track their time on task and innovative weekly writing assignments. Students who initially struggle to write even a sentence or two explaining their reasoning and purpose develop the ability to fluidly explain their math and how it connects to the real-world.

Perhaps the most appropriate way to sum up Gary’s impact on introductory math is by the numbers: Before Gary helped establish the Math Learning center, only 80% of the students who received an “A” in College Algebra or Pre-Calculus passed their subsequent Calculus course. Now, over 95% of those top students pass Calculus, too.  He has helped Boise State create a gen ed math program that has increased its overall passing rate from about 60% to  about 80% without compromising rigor (illustrated by the fact that we’ve also simultaneously increased the number of students who pass more advanced math courses later).

 

FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENCES

Daniel Luna 

Daniel Luna’s geoscience courses help students understand the historical development of scientific theories and methods over time, illustrate the contemporary impact of the natural sciences by helping students use public data about the world they live in right now, and feature lecture and laboratory activities that engage students in genuine inquiry

“Lectures are real-life related and super interesting,” writes one student. “He is always looking to better each student by relating his teachings to his own life,” writes another. Dr. Luna “brought in examples of how some concepts are used outside of geology, and explained complicated concepts clearly and concisely,” writes a third.

“I would say as a History major and as someone who generally only finds only the humanities interesting, I was always fully engaged and fascinated by the course material. Dr. Luna always tried to connect the dots,” a further student sums up. “I would say that I never really understood the concepts of the scientific method until I took Dr. Luna’s Geology 102 class.  Now that I understand the scientific method more it has really changed my outlook on the world and how I analyze information.”

 

FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIAL SCIENCES

Suzanne Sermon

Suzanne Sermon’s focus on student mastery of learning outcomes, her ability to create meaningful assignments . . ..  coupled with her focus on increasing access and affordability for students enables non-majors to understand and apply historical methods of learning. Suzanne’s nomination came from students and their comments most powerfully convey her candidacy for this award:

From one student: “I was not ready to embrace distance learning with virtual arms. I know that I learn best in a classroom and doubted an online course’s ability to replicate that . . .. I have changed my mind.”

From another student: “I came to last semester’s history class not as a history major but as someone seeking to fulfill prerequisites. To be frank, I felt that I had already learned sufficient American history and was not looking forward to another overview . . .  through Professor Sermon’s guided inquiry, I started to understand that the questions that mattered were not just about what happened, but why, and how, and why it matters . . .. My goal at the start of the course was merely to pass; months later, I came close to neglecting other responsibilities in order to produce the best academic work possible in my history class.”

A third student sums up: “I am grateful she has taught me how to be a better historian, pupil, teacher, and, most of all, a compassionate and thoughtful human.”

 

FOUNDATIONS OF ARTS

Jacob Banholzer

Jacob Banholzer was nominated because of his active learning approaches to teaching students to appreciate and analyze art. His student nominees cited the multimodal ways they were given to explore art from the artist’s perspective and the consistent feedback he seeks from students about their learning.

One student writes: “He works with his students and is constantly communicating with us on how he can make the learning experience better.”

Another sums up: “Professor Banholzer continues to amaze me with how much he cares about the subject he teaches.  . . . . He creates an interesting learning experience and is constantly giving students access to explore art or try different forms of art on their own outside of our course. Jacob cares about seeing students’ growth and does everything in his power to help students and make the class an enjoyable experience for everyone.”

 

UF100

Brian Jackson

Brian Jackson’s UF 100 course, Alien Worlds, Alien Life helps students explore how astronomical discoveries have shaped and been shaped by the societies in which they occur. His course helps entering freshmen reimagine themselves as scholars and critical thinkers, and the effect it has on students is perhaps best summed up by one of the several students who nominated him for this award:

“Not only did this man effectively teach everything surrounding UF 100 courses that introduce you to college itself. He was so incredibly good at teaching around the topic of astronomy. Every class was so incredibly interesting. He was always available, and most important he was incredibly flexible during coronavirus and helped every student as much as he could. The biggest thing that made me so fascinated about this class was how interesting he was. He made me so interested in the whole topic of space. I literally reconsidered changing my major and taking a whole different route in life to switch to something involving space. I am still amazed to this day with his class. The best class I took my freshman year and perhaps it might go on to be the best class I took in college. In such a simple introductory course I met with astrophysics professionals in the field from other universities and interviewed them. It was so incredibly fun and eye-opening to this world of science. I could not recommend this professor more for this award.”

 

UF200

Tim Guill

Tim Guill’s UF 200 course on conspiracy and misinformation is consistently cited by students as their favorite and most eye-opening course. His students note his dedication to responsively designing the course and frequently asking for their feedback throughout the semester, as well as his skill at helping them explore difficult topics with open minds.

As usual the students say it best:

“This instructor created a unique course to teach ethics and diversity, through conspiracy theories and misinformation (a course he developed). He is always prepared and enthusiastic about the course material yet understanding and conscientious of students’ perspectives and opinions. It can be difficult navigating a classroom when discussing sensitive topics, but Professor Guill did an outstanding job.”

“I am a non-major student, and I have spent every class as engaged as I ever have been, and I have ADHD so that’s a big deal.”

Professor Guill is in the top three best professors I have ever had. It is very difficult to find professors that make me excited to go to class, and professor Guill does just that. I have enjoyed every reading, podcast, and video he has assigned. He does an amazing job at tying together our out of class research with in class discussion and presentation. Every topic that we have learned about in this class I have found myself applying to my own life.”

 

FINISHING FOUNDATIONS

Brad Coats

Brad Coats teaches a key finishing foundations course for multiple education programs, serving majors in both certification and non-certification programs. He has supported the goals of University Foundations by volunteering his time to serve in the pilot group of instructors that revised their FF courses to meet new university guidelines, then generously shared his coursework and innovative assignments as models for other instructors to use.

He has also partnered with instructors of an early UF course to create an equity bookend that helps measure student growth. He sets goals for collaboration and guides students through a process for identifying problems of inequity and proposing solutions using research-based frameworks through his equity case study assignment.

Brad embraces the importance of reflection as an opportunity for his students to develop a capacity for change, helping the future educators he teaches think forward and back about their dispositions for open-mindedness, and respect for multiple perspectives. As a student writes:

“He encourages reflection and exploration in ways that are engaging to all students who listen. He is open as a resource to any student, and genuinely cares about his students, the community, and the world around him.”