Eagle Teaching Excellence Award winners announced
UWL students have spoken. They’ve sent in nominations and six UWL faculty members have been selected for the 2016 Eagle Teaching Excellence Award, previously called the Provost’s Teaching Award. The award recognizes excellence in teaching.
Winners will be announced again at commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 14, and recognized at the Chancellor’s All-University Address in August.
This year’s winners are:
- Matthew Andre, Exercise and Sports Science
- Bianca Basten, Psychology
- Roi Kawai, Education Studies
- Betsy Knowles, Economics
- Nick McGrath, Chemistry & Biochemistry
- Kate Parker, English
Matthew Andre, Exercise and Sport Science
Years at UWL: 2
Teaches: Primarily upper-level strength-and-conditioning and fitness classes, which involve discussion of scientific theory, as well as practical hands-on components.
History: Prior to coming to UWL, Andre taught at the University of Kansas while working on his doctoral degree. Before that he taught at George Mason University while working on a master’s degree. Over the past 13 years, he has also coached individual-sport athletes in addition to personal-training the general population for a variety of fitness/health goals.
Favorite part of teaching: “Instilling and cultivating hope and optimism in students. I meet many talented, wonderful students who are losing hope in their future, and it brings me great joy to see them gain hope, confidence and passion. They have the ability to increase their happiness and to increase their contributions to society regardless of what has previously happened or is currently happening around them, and it is exhilarating to see them start to realize their potential. This outstanding generation of students gives me great hope for the future.”
Bianca Basten, Psychology
Years at UWL: 7
Teaches: Primarily research methods courses including: Experimental Psychology, Advanced Research Methods and Psychology Measurement. She also teaches Cognitive Psychology and occasionally Introduction to Psychology. She just started teaching Honors Seminar.
History: Earned a doctoral degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 2009. Prior to teaching at UWL, she taught classes at Washington University and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Originally from Germany, she has lived in the U.S. for 16 years.
Favorite part of teaching: “Seeing students excited about material they didn’t think could be exciting. Research methods courses often scare students. Watching them go from being uncertain to confidently and proudly presenting their final research projects makes me happy every semester.”
Roi Kawai, Education Studies
Years at UWL: 1
Teaches: Courses in the social foundations of education with a focus on constructivism, human differences and social justice.
History: For seven years, I taught American History, English Language Arts, and Algebra to seventh and eighth graders at a public school in Illinois. I also spent three summers teaching classes on political engagement and social change to middle school and high school students in Chicago, and served as an instructional coach to pre-service middle school teachers of diverse students in Boston for two years. I earned my doctorate degree from Penn State University in curriculum and instruction, and my master’s degree in school leadership from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Favorite part of teaching: “I love when my students ask fantastic, burning questions about teaching that I have never considered before. Even better, I get to observe how these questions grow in complexity, depth and color. Then, as my students start teaching in their own classrooms, I love sitting on the sideline and cheering them on.”
Betsy Knowles, Economics
Years at UWL: Nearly 30
Teaches: Principles of Microeconomics and Public Policy, Global Macroeconomics, and Business and Economic Research and Communication.
History: Before coming to UWL she researched costs of production for the Economic Research Service and later worked for the Cooperative Extension Service in Community Development.
Favorite part of teaching: “Being present at the moment when the desire to learn takes over — when students move from questions to questioning. It is when the understanding of a framework or model or point of view creates a desire to understand the world through a different lens. Teaching becomes learning how to foster those moments.”
Nicholas McGrath, Chemistry & Biochemistry
Years at UWL: 3
Teaches: Organic chemistry lectures and laboratories, general chemistry laboratory, and an advanced laboratory elective that he developed in synthetic organic chemistry.
History: McGrath earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota–Duluth and a doctoral degree in chemistry from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. After five years at Cornell, he began a post-doctorate at UW-Madison. He spent three years in Madison before coming to UWL.
Favorite part of teaching:
“My favorite thing about teaching is reaching that ‘ah-ha’ moment when you see an important concept or idea just ‘click’ in the student’s head and you can tell that now they are on the same page and fully understand. I’m torn when it comes to deciding if I enjoy enthusiastically delivering a lecture to a group of 100 or the smaller 1-on-1 interactions in office hours. Both are very exciting and rewarding. I have absolutely loved my time here at UWL and look forward to a long career here working with our incredible students.”
Kate Parker, English
Years at UWL: 4
Teaches: General education courses in writing, early British Literature (origins to 1800), sexuality studies and literature and compassion. She teaches upper-level courses in 18th century British literature and feminism and sexuality. She has taught a “Foundations in English Studies” course for two years, and co-teaches a class on poetry and contemplation with Bryan Kopp, English.
History: Parker received her doctorate in English and comparative literature from Washington University in St. Louis, where she also taught for six years. Prior to coming to UWL, she was a faculty member of Bucknell University’s English Department and worked as an editorial associate at the Bucknell University Press.
Favorite part of teaching:
“My students are some of the most intriguing, compassionate and inquisitive folks I know, and they bring so much energy to the classroom. The privilege of teaching humanities at the college level is that faculty and students are all invited to work together to pose richer and more complex questions, to try and find creative solutions to problems, and to reflect on the ethical and moral implications of our proposed solutions. Such a model ensures that I am always learning alongside and with my students. Getting to know my students as thinkers, as readers, as writers, as people — this is without a doubt the best part of teaching.”