The Academy for Teaching and Learning hosted a course makeover seminar series for faculty this past week. Teachers from all corners of campus converged in the Baylor Sciences Building to revamp classes old and new. You may wonder, why change … Continue reading
In case you missed it, the Graduate School sponsored an open discussion with Dr. Edward Burger for all interested graduate students seeking to benefit from Dr. Burger’s incredible teaching expertise. Dr. Burger is a Robert Foster Cherry Award winner for … Continue reading
In case you missed it, the Wakonse Teaching Conference was held in Marble Falls, Texas this spring and joined educators from all over the country in efforts to revamp, recount and review their teaching methodologies. A few Baylor graduate students were lucky enough to attend, sponsored by the Graduate School.
Both large and small group discussions focused on topics ranging from reflection, classroom dynamics, collaboration, evaluations, and designing better questions for examinations, to name a few. This was an intensive weekend spent solely on teaching and becoming a better teacher.
One noteworthy talk concentrated on the Marzano and Kendall theory of taxonomy in teaching. In general, this is a step-wise way to teach which begins with information retrieval, then moves to comprehension, analysis and finally culminates in knowledge utilization. The goal of utilizing this hierarchy in one’s classroom is ultimately higher learning, where we as teachers can begin to focus on what is important for our students- not simply memorization but ultimately utilizing and applying information.
Another important talk from the weekend with a great take away message, focused on reflection. Reflection can be thought of as deep thought, introspection, mirroring, and examination. Overall, reflection can show us how we are doing in the classroom. This particular presenter began her teaching career in a class that was previously taught by a great and notorious teacher at her university. She had big shoes to fill to say the least. Her first semester did not go very well. With some feedback from students exclaiming the class was “too hard” and the material was taught “too fast”, she was struggling for a solution. She utilized reflection to pinpoint a number of problems in her classroom including lack of time, lack of student grasp on prerequisite information and low participation and engagement. Her solution? Cut out unnecessary information, be more efficient and implement course mapping to determine if students are getting surface information or have reached the knowledge utilization level of learning. In other words, with the use of reflection she was able to pinpoint problems, brainstorm how to fix them, and ultimately implement new strategies in her classroom to improve learning. In the end, she flipped her classroom and dramatically improved the learning environment.
In a weekend filled with discussion and reflection, I have taken away a lot of lessons on how to be a better teaching assistant and a great future faculty member. I intend to always incorporate personal experiences into my teaching, be approachable for students whenever possible, reflect on the questions I’m asking and HOW I’m asking them and consult with colleagues. In short, the best teachers are always learning and changing, and that is a secret I’ve been told is behind excellent teaching- flexibility to change and motivation to always be a learner.
Earlier this month, the Provost’s Office announced a call for nominations for the tenth annual Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award. At the outset of the new selection process, the Academy for Teaching and Learning recognizes anew the 2012 Smith Professor of the Year, Dr. Roger E. Kirk, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Statistics and Master Teacher in Baylor University’s College of Arts and Sciences.
The Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award is given to a Baylor faculty member who makes a superlative contribution to the learning environment at Baylor, including teaching of the highest order of intellectual acumen and pedagogical effectiveness, research recognized as outstanding by the national and/or international as well as local community of scholars, and exemplary service in building the character of intellectual community at Baylor.
The award recipient is named each year at the University Honors Convocation. “I was honored and delighted to receive the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award,” Dr. Kirk told the ATL. “The award is special because it is based on three elements: teaching, scholarship, and service.”
Dr. Kirk has served on the Baylor faculty since 1958. During that time he has taught thousands of students and been an active member of many professional organizations as well as the Baylor and local community. He has also produced an extensive body of research, including more than 200 articles, reviews, reports, encyclopedia entries, editions of books and paper presentations, several of which have been foundational in the area of research protocols, sound experimental design, and statistical procedures in the social sciences.
After 54 years on the Baylor faculty, Dr. Kirk still keeps students on the edge of their seats. For Pauline Minnar (B.A. Psychology and International Studies, 2014), a former student in Dr. Kirk’s Statistics course, the unique ability to balance his extensive knowledge of this subject with a light-hearted outlook on life and quirky humor is what makes Dr. Kirk an outstanding professor.
“Even after teaching here at Baylor for so many years, Dr. Kirk somehow finds a way to approach each class with freshness and excitement in being able to teach his students,” Minnar said.
Megan Johnson Shen (Ph.D. Psychology, 2012) echoed Minnar’s perspective. During her graduate work at Baylor, Shen spent time in Dr. Kirk’s classrooms as both a student and Graduate Teaching Assistant. In addition to his love for students and desire to see them do well, Shen described the root of Dr. Kirk’s effectiveness as the ability to approach complicated statistical concepts from multiple angles until a student reaches comprehension.
“He is one of the most brilliant statisticians I have ever encountered and is one of the most well-respected scholars in his field. Yet when a student doesn’t understand his explanation of statistics, he considers it a defeat and will press onward until they do. To me, that is a truly humble professor who cares about his students,” Shen said.
A lauded teacher and scholar, Dr. Kirk is also admired as a colleague. Dr. Chuck Weaver, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, described Dr. Kirk as “an ideal role model and welcoming colleague. His love of the classroom is apparent and contagious. I have senior colleagues at other institutions that ask to meet Roger like a teenager might ask to meet a movie star. He is quite possibly the most distinguished scholar Baylor has ever produced, yet he’s kind and approachable. It’s been an honor to consider him a colleague.”
When asked to comment on the significance of the award, Dr. Kirk expressed the humility and collegiality noted by his students and fellow professors.
“I am blessed to be in a department with so many outstanding teachers and scholars. My colleagues in Psychology and Neuroscience have set the bar for excellence extremely high. Students in psychology classes are used to and expect outstanding teaching and mentoring. Although I would like to claim sole credit for the award, part of the honor belongs to my colleagues. They have motivated me to be the best that I can be.”