The Graduate Student Teaching Award honors graduate student excellence in instruction.
When you’re a teacher, you constantly question your effectiveness: Did I present the content right? Did my students understand what I said? Did I help them acquire the tools needed to make a difference in their chosen profession? For Andrew Bass, doctoral student in kinesiology, the answer is a resounding yes. In Bass’s class, it’s not uncommon for him to ask students about their sport background and pivot the lesson to ensure his examples and explanations make sense. His engaging activities enable his undergraduate students in Principles of Movement Control and Skill Learning and Intro to Sport Psychology to connect with the material in a way that highlights their current understanding. Bass receives glowing reviews from his students, and his faculty supervisors say he helps students learn material while modeling caring, organization, and excitement.
If you happen to hear undergraduate students talking about their classes, there’s a good chance you’ll hear them recommending those taught by Janna Caspersen. The doctoral student in geography is the longest-running teacher of Geography 101 in recent memory. While this class is often a student’s first experience with the subject, many of Caspersen’s students return for more. According to a colleague, Caspersen “has excited the students about geography, resulting in students taking additional geography courses or becoming a geography major or minor.” Furthermore, Caspersen has played a leadership role in the department’s decision to pursue open-source textbooks, which save students money and advance inclusion, equity, and equality. Caspersen recently presented alongside senior geography instructors at the annual meeting of the National Council for Geographic Education, where she shared her experiences in leading six civil rights pilgrimages and an alternative break trip for her students.
For many graduate students, research is top of mind and teaching is an afterthought. Not for Cassie Dresser, a PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Dresser has distinguished herself not only in her primary academic research but also through her passion and enthusiasm for teaching. Faculty members list a variety of ways in which Dresser excels. She researches best practices in classroom teaching and shares her findings in publications and through presentations at national meetings. She has developed and implemented research-based scientific literacy coursework. She has guided the implementation of best practices in teaching for other teaching assistants in her role as head TA for the biodiversity course. In addition, Dresser has independently developed and delivered a 200-level biology course—very rare for a TA—to a large undergraduate class with excellent results.