Extraordinary Graduate Student Teaching honors graduate students’ excellence in instruction.
Neil Conner joined the PhD program in geography in 2011 and has been a graduate teaching associate for four semesters. He received his master’s degree in international studies from Old Dominion University and taught high school social studies in Virginia Beach, Virginia, for five years. Students who have taken Conner’s class rate him highly in their annual evaluations of his teaching, giving him the highest ranking of any graduate teacher in the Geography Department and a score that rivals those of many faculty members. He received the Outstanding Teaching Associate Award in recognition of his success. Students say Conner stretches their thinking and engages them with personal stories, enthusiasm, and effective presentations. He often meets with students outside class to discuss their interest in geography as a major and guide them through career choices. Conner’s dissertation research about national identity in Ireland has been recognized and supported by a McClure Scholarship, a departmental McCroskey Award, a Science Alliance Fellowship, and a Seaton Graduate Fellowship. He also has partnered with Associate Professor Ronald Kalafsky to use online case studies developed by the Association of American Geographers.
Hal Wilson completed his master’s degree in sport management and then joined the PhD program with a concentration in sport studies and a specialization in sociocultural studies in 2001. He left for ten years to teach and coach before returning. While teaching at UT, he has engaged students by flipping his classroom. He was awarded a $1,000 grant from the Office of Information Technology to implement this new style, which moves away from the traditional classroom lectures and makes greater use of technology. Students have responded positively. Wilson has submitted two first-author manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals, one accepted by the Chronicle of Kinesiology in Higher Education and one in review by Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature. He has had an encyclopedia entry, eight of nine national and international conference submissions, and five of six regional conference submissions accepted, all developed in collaboration with other UT graduate students, UT faculty members, and representatives of other universities. In addition to working on five additional manuscripts this year, Wilson serves on the Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory Board and contributes on the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education Public Affairs Committee. He has served as a Life of the Mind discussion group leader and was a featured speaker in the Graduate School’s 2013 graduate teaching assistant and associate orientation.
Ryan Woldruff teaches first-semester composition courses and upper-division courses in film, fiction, and screenplay writing. He was so successful in his first year of teaching that he won the Hodges Award for Excellence as a New Graduate Teaching Associate in 2009. Woldruff does research on effective teaching methods. He developed a template for his English 102 students to help them appropriately structure their qualitative research projects. He also combines his students’ final projects into a PDF course book for each student. Woldruff has presented his writing-workshop approach to composition class and his research article template at national conferences and in scholarly journals. Kirsten Benson, director of composition, said his teaching methods offer “direct instruction, immediate application, and useful feedback, involving students both in group and individual work.” Woldruff mentors other graduate teaching assistants as well. He teaches workshops for new GTAs and leads a weekly tutor-training meeting in the Writing Center.