Graduate Spotlight: 2012 Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching
Michael Amlung is a Ph.D. student in Psychology. He has held multiple teaching positions at the University, including three semesters as a teaching assistant and three semesters as the instructor of record for various psychology courses. “As an instructor in psychology, I strive to engage my students in psychological concepts with the ultimate goal of building their skills as critical consumers and, more importantly, producers of knowledge,” says Amlung. “Central to this mission is my view that learning is both an individual and collective process.” In addition to teaching psychology courses, Amlung has also been instrumental in revising the Graduate Teaching Seminar for first-semester teaching assistants in the Psychology Department. “I crafted a course rooted in pedagogical theory with an emphasis on experiential learning,” he says. “The course broadened my student’s understanding of effective teaching practices and increased their confidence in their teaching abilities.”
Beth Beggs is a Ph.D. student studying English in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Beggs has been the instructor of record for five classes within the English department. Beggs has also developed several techniques that have since become standard practices in the department, including the substitution of the final exam for a capstone electronic portfolio in order to showcase the student’s best products and reflect on their writing process over the course of the semester. Additionally, Beggs has reconfigured the UGA Writing Center, its scope and its mission to help implement key recommendations from the 2007 Task Force on Writing. “In any of these roles, my primary responsibility is to establish an environment in which learning is possible,” Beggs says. ”This begins by respecting the writer, their process, and their ownership of the text, but it does not extend to sacrificing rigor.”
Beth Friese is a Ph.D. student in the College of Education. Friese has taught multiple classes in the Language and Literacy Education Department over the past three years, with her overall teaching evaluations consistently range from 4.5 to 5.0 on a 5 point scale with a 4.85 mean. “My teaching philosophy focuses on a student-centered, inquiry driven, critically minded, and rigorous pedagogy,” Friese says. “By making my own development as a teacher an explicit part of courses, I act as a model of reflective, renewing teaching practice for my students as they continue to develop their own teaching abilities.” In addition to Graduate Assistant teaching, Friese has been a mentor to both student and faculty members (including several full professors and one associate dean) in several areas including the incorporation of technology and graphic novels into the curriculum.
Joseph Pate is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services. Pate has instructed a range of courses during his time at the University including a unified 12-credit hour course (as an equal faculty member on a teaching team of four) and six other undergraduate courses in the Recreation and Leisure Studies Program. Pate also co-facilitates a graduate course on Experimental Education. Pate has several publications on the scholarship of teaching and learning, including a chapter in the book, Speaking Up, Speaking Out: Working for Environmental and Social Justice through park and Recreation Research, two published activities based on his teaching in Schole: The Journal of Leisure and Recreation Education, and a book review of the seminal text Experimental Education. As an instructor, Pate seeks to design and proffer the sequences and nature of content and topics, discussions, projects, and experiences. “It is my belief that we are all always growing and learning, and understanding is not static or fictionalized, but must be continually troubled, challenged, and willingly addressed,” Pate says.
Dana TeCroney is a graduate student in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. While at UGA, TeCroney has had the opportunity to instruct or co-instruct all four of the courses in a sequence required by prospective mathematics teachers several times in addition to several graduate-level seminars. “Stepping back to think about the goals I have for my classroom, student learning and their development are the overarching priorities that guide my practice,” says TeCroney. “A new level of sophistication in my teaching was reached when I began to think about how to find or change mathematical problems and exercises in order to engage my classes from the prospective of the students. The critical transition that this caused changed from viewing a mathematics course as a set of topics to a new goal of taking the students that I am given and guiding them towards an understanding of some set of topics.”