Awards for Innovations in Teaching and Learning were presented during the 2018-19 Faculty/Staff kickoff yesterday. The award recognizes some of the remarkable teaching that distinguishes the University of Hartford and is presented annually to faculty members who have shown exceptional dedication, innovation, and effectiveness in the classroom.
The Innovations in Teaching and Learning awards are sponsored and funded by the Harry Jack Gray National Endowment for the Humanities Teaching Enhancement Grants. Each of these recipients receives faculty development funds to use in current academic year.
Ken Goldstein, Clinical Instructor of Risk Management and Insurance in the Barney School of Business brings over 20 years of corporate work experience in the insurance industry and a degree as an attorney to his classes. He uses contemporary social issues in the classroom to help students gain real world exposure, data analysis, critical thinking, and social responsibility skills.
In his Legal Environment of Business class, Goldstein created a First Amendment debate between students who played the roles of professional athletes, owners, and the government to enhance students’ preparation and persuasion skills as well as their ability to succinctly articulate cogent legal arguments. One student’s response to the debate was “the debate helped us understand what happens in the real world. We did all of the required steps that an attorney would do in a real case.”
Similarly, in his Principles of Insurance class, Goldstein replicated a business setting and had the class regularly engage in practical group work concerning diverse risk management and insurance. One student’s said “I liked that we got a very holistic view of the insurance industry. There are a lot of different aspects of insurance and we were able to learn about how they affect business operations and individuals.”
Former Barney Dean Marty Roth said “Ken’s teaching across multiple disciplines has been truly innovative and impactful on our students.”
Mala Matacin, Associate Professor of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences and Faculty Sponsor for Women for Change, teaches “Beauty, Body Image, and Feminism,” a first-year seminar in which students critically analyze the social construction of beauty/body image through an interdisciplinary, intersectional, and multicultural lens in an effort to address the corruption of women. The course has consistently used photo projects as a means of collaborative learning and civic engagement.
Over the past three years, the photo projects have addressed contemporary racism and other forms of oppression; a campus-wide photo shoot on “Raising our Voice to End Gender Injustice” that culminated in a gallery showing at Hartford’s Charter Oak Cultural Center; and “Humans of UHart,” that built awareness of negative media body messages.
The class and the projects have a lasting effect on the first-year students. One said “I feel the strength of this course is that it forces you to think and really go into a deeper level of analysis while having meaningful and interesting discussions about things that impact us all.”
Jack Powell, chair of the University’s department of Psychology said of the photo projects, “it engages students, it teaches them to work with others, it involves them in learning beyond the classroom…it’s fun, and it becomes a source of pride when they look back on their efforts. Mala reinvents it every year so it is timely … it is always addressing the most current issues.”
Furthering her commitment to women’s issues, Matacin also mentors students throughout their college career and sometimes beyond. She has supported and encouraged students to present their research at the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Colloquium, and the national conference of the Association for Women in Psychology. She is the faculty sponsor of a campus organization Women for Change and has served as advisor for many University honors theses.
Hwayeon Ryu, Assistant Professor of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences has redesigned the intro-level statistics course M114, which some refer to as Everyday Statistics. Rue believes that students learn best by being actively engaged and by exploring real-life examples relevant to concepts. Success in this course is essential for preparing students for advanced courses where fundamental statistical knowledge must be accompanied by the ability to apply appropriate tools. Rue redesigned the course to introduce real-world examples with data directly applicable to a variety of majors from psychology to health sciences.
In the course, students research a question, design a research study, collect date to analyze and give a formal presentation. This helps them engage in active learning and improves their critical thinking as they analyze data to solve complicated problems. They feel connected to real world issues and become more interested in the subject.
Results of the redesigned course show that all students acknowledged improvement in their critical thinking in statistics. Almost all spoke of the effectiveness of collaborative projects and real data. One said “Tis course helped me become a better critical thinker… because it gave me a better understanding of what we were doing by applying what we learned to the real world.”
Mako Haruta, chair of the departments of Mathematics and Physics, says “Dr. Ryu is a highly accomplished scholar and teacher, inspiring her students to learn in innovative ways, unprecedented in our typical introductory statistics class.”
Rebecca Townsend, Assistant Professor of Communication in Hillyer College, had students in her first-year CMB 110 (introduction to communication) and SDB 110 (speech) classes organize and facilitate National Issues Forums deliberation events. This required that they prepare an event and facilitate and report on it. This involved that students learn the skills that enable thein to engage in sincere and respectful conversations with peers and the community about a topic of national importance. A topic in 2017-18 was “Land of Plenty: How Should We Ensure People Have the Food They Need”
When the deliberation event was held, the students ran everything and demonstrated effective leadership and the ability to talk with one another in respectful ways. The forum is effective in development of communication competencies including skills in rhetoric, interpersonal communication, group communication, perception, and creation of messages. One student said “this class helped me to be a better me.”
After participating in the forum deliberation, Hillyer College Dean David Goldenberg said of Townsend, “I observed how she trains students to lead conversations. Her assumption on leadership is not built around the idea of students growing into mature debaters by senior year. She believes these students are capable NOW.”