Innovative Teaching Awards

Interdisciplinary Studies in Early Childhood Teaching
Loretta Rudd; Patricia Saccomano; Geri Mendoza

As the College of Social and Behavioral Science is known for its interdisciplinary work within the university, family and consumer studies professors Loretta Rudd, Patricia Saccomano, and Geri Mendoza are currently recruiting students from fields outside of early childhood education to take a newly created early childhood education course. This course will provide the students with the basic information on child development and early learning strategies, and then create a lesson in their own field of study.

“We hope that these students who may not have worked with young children before will see the importance of working with them, and how quickly these children gain knowledge and skills,” explains Rudd. She continues, “Everybody should care about the development of young children. Our economy depends on us making sure that every child has a good start.”  

Student Training in Anthropological Data Analysis: Course Development for Student Research
Adrian Bell; Brian Codding; Alan Rogers

When asked what innovative teaching means to anthropology professor Adrian Bell, she responds, “It means getting students involved; for them to do the work required to solve problems, suggest new approaches, and innovate on their own.” She continues, “ Once they understand the behind-the-scenes work involved in the material they read, they will gain deeper insights and understand the extent and limitations of our knowledge of the real world.”

Currently, Bell is working alongside fellow anthropology professors Brian Codding and Alan Rogers to develop a series of courses that will lead students to pair up with faculty to conduct their own undergraduate research. Bell says, “We plan to work with other faculty members to shape the content so that students gain the basic skills to begin research. I need skilled undergraduates to assist me with my work. Other faculty members need them too.” And according Bell, it will be a win-win for both the faculty and the students because the students will gain research experience that will enrich their education and make them attractive to future employers and/or graduate/professional schools.

“Flipping” Geographical Analysis
Steve Farber

The term “flipping” is relatively new in teaching methods. It consists of working with online sources to make lecture content available to students on-demand, which will allow students to focus on teamwork and problem solving in the classroom. And that is exactly what geography professor Steven Farber is planning to do with a required quantitative methods course called, “Geographic Analysis.” Farber explains, “This course is considered the most difficult of all required geography courses, with lower than average grades, and higher than average withdrawals and failures. I hope to change this trend by changing the teaching paradigm to meet the needs and learning skills of today’s undergraduate student.”  

Farber believes that if the project is successful, it will have a pronounced effect on student outcomes for the course and provide students with a better foundation and allow them to successfully pursue more advanced courses offered by the department and college. “The teaching technologies and methods explored in this project will serve as an example of how to revamp and modernize teaching approaches across the university,” he states.

The Democratic Recession and Counter-Hegemonic Autocracies: A Teaching and Research Agenda
Sam Handlin

Political science professor Sam Handlin’s latest research project will involve looking at “counter-hegemonic autocracies”—countries such as Russia, China, and Venezuela that are not full democracies and that have been challenging U.S. hegemony in the last decade—and their effect on the “democratic recession” of recent years. As part of the research, he will be offering a new course called “New Democracies” which will allow students to explore these topics further through active learning techniques such as role-playing scenarios and group research projects.

As far as what Handlin hopes to accomplish with the project and the course, he says, “I want to introduce my students to a critical contemporary issue in global politics, with very clear policy ramifications, and create an environment for them to conduct directed original research. At the same time, I hope to learn from my students in ways that can inform my own larger research project.”

Supplemental Instruction for PSYCH 3330: Stress Management
Paula Williams

Having already developed the PSYCH 3330 stress management course, psychology professor Paula Williams will use the innovative teaching award to adapt a supplemental web-based program in stress management. The program will use a tailored approach including the use of individual difference assessment to provide specific feedback to students and tailored suggestions for behavior change. It will provide students with information about their own profile of risk and resilience in each of the domains of stress: stress exposure, stress reactivity, stress recovery, and restoration. Corresponding didactic materials including lectures and class discussion will review the relevant research literature upon which the tailored approach is based.

“I hope that by adding an interactive web-based element, it will be an excellent teaching device using a forward-looking mode of delivery that will enhance the learning experience of students. The expected outcomes is that they will gain greater awareness of their own stress levels and will develop a variety of stress coping competencies that should carry forward in their lives,” states Williams.