A&S Certificate Recipients 2011-2012

This year, the College of Arts & Sciences awarded four professors with 2011-2012 Awards for Outstanding Teaching: Ben Braun (Mathematics), Nathan DeWall (Psychology), Paul Koester (Mathematics) and Linda Worley (Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures).  Drs. Braun, DeWall, Koester, and Worley are all exemplary practitioners of the arts of teaching, to be congratulated for their dedication to making the classroom a rewarding place for students and instructors alike.  These faculty have also made significant contributions to education beyond the classroom, including to University-wide and national educational initiatives. Peter Mirabito (chair), Chana Akins, Juliana McDonald, and Leon Sachs served as this year’s selection committee.

The dossier of Ben Braun suggests that he will advance mathematics education at UK and beyond for years to come.  In addition to phenomenal classroom evaluations at all levels of the curriculum, he refurbished the History of Math course so that it will fulfill UK’s writing requirement.  Testifying to his vision of “math as a human endeavor,” this revision blurs the distinction between mathematics and the humanities and provides a refreshing, innovative approach to teaching math.  His efforts in the classroom were lauded by many former students, one of whom writes that “we remembered how passionate you are about exposing students to the beauty of mathematics, and how you opened our eyes to a perspective on math that we wished we had had much earlier in our lives.”  Ben draws on multiple pedagogical principles and concepts in his training of math TAs, and he has been invited to organize a session at Math Fest, which is the annual summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America

Nathan DeWall's dossier documents his remarkable success in teaching and mentoring students at multiple academic levels in a variety of educational environments.  Nathan’s success in formal classroom instruction is all the more impressive considering his considerable extracurricular efforts to improve the education of students.  Among other things, Nathan developed the first online course in Psychology (which was hugely successful) and is co-directing the development of a second.  He is also incredibly prolific as a mentor of young independent researchers, nurturing more than 20 undergraduates in his lab each semester.  Nathan’s devotion to education clearly touches his students deeply.  One wrote, “Dr. DeWall serves not only as a mentor, but an idol”. Nathan’s upcoming co-directorship of the A&S Wired Residential College is over and above the call of duty. Nathan looks beyond his department and his discipline to think about the welfare of the entire college as a learning environment.

Paul Koester has been a workhorse in mathematics education during his two years at UK, teaching 14 courses with impressive repeated success in lower level mathematics courses. Paul’s students repeatedly state that he is always available to help them and that he presents material in a knowledgeable way that shows patience and an understanding of them and their problems. Paul’s ability to engage and encourage students is likely responsible for his large role in improving the DEW rates in math. Paul has done much to improve delivery of MA 123, one of the College’s most important math service courses, including making significant changes to the course content, devising fresh ideas about handling the production of multiple tests using Maple, and developing instructional worksheets for math recitations. His dedication and skill are impressive. 

Linda Worley has enjoyed an astounding career of successful classroom teaching at every level and displayed an unprecedented level of pedagogical leadership at UK and beyond. Her work inspired numerous superlatives from former students, one of whom stated that Linda “teaches from the heart, not from the book.” She has published peer-reviewed articles on pedagogy in journals such as the Journal of Higher Education and has applied her considerable knowledge of pedagogy and its principles to train the graduate students who play a major instructional role in the College. She is a director of UK’s Graduate Certificate for Teaching and Learning and Preparing Future Faculty programs and regularly makes presentations beyond UK at such regional and national forums as the Kentucky World Language Association, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and the American Society of Higher Education. 

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