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Center for Teaching Excellence

  • 2018 Garnet Apple Award Winners

2018 Garnet Apple Award Winners

J. Daniel Jenkins

Associate Professor
Music Theory

School of Music

J. Daniel Jenkins has flipped his classroom to get students better engaged with what he calls “the vegetables” of music education — music theory. “Music theory is like eating your vegetables — nobody wants to eat their vegetables, but you have to,” he says. The way music theory has typically been taught is about as exciting as steamed broccoli with no butter or salt. So Jenkins takes his class to the Music Technology Center every week to give music theory a dash of flavor. Access to keyboards and online databases of musical scores is key to making his classroom experiment work. “Our students are actually playing and in contact with the material,” he says. “It gives them a level of practical knowledge.” Jenkins says the big payoff is that he can cover more material in class because students are learning at a faster pace and are better able to monitor their own progress. “They are grasping it more profoundly as they go along,” he says. “I am very interested in trying to create the best experiences for my students.”

Learn more about J. Daniel Jenkins in the UofSC News  story The Mechanics of Music.

J. Daniel Jenkins

Steven Rodney

Assistant Professor
Physics and Astronomy
College of Arts and Sciences

As a doctoral student, Steven Rodney was confident in his knowledge of astronomy. But the prospect of teaching the material to students seemed more like a black hole — Rodney didn’t know if he had the right stuff. So Rodney got involved with the Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators, which exposed him to different theories of learning and the neuroscience and psychology of how people learn.  Rodney continues to tap into that experience. Using a Center for Teaching Excellence grant, Rodney revamped Astronomy 101 with the help of department colleague David Tedeschi. Rodney’s version of the new course centers around a provocative question — “Are we alone?” — to get students thinking about the search for intelligent alien life in the universe. Many of the same textbook topics are covered but with a focus that makes the material read more like a mystery than, well, a textbook. “I want undergraduates to learn how to wrestle with complex data — to make informed decisions,” Rodney says. “That’s a skill they can take with them into other disciplines.”

Learn more about Steven Rodney in the UofSC News  story Final Frontier.

Steven Rodney

Lisa Sisk

Senior Instructor
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
College of Information and Communications

Lisa Sisk had a successful career in nonprofit, agency and corporate public relations, but is now a senior instructor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications — and has never looked back. Instead, she looks forward — to her next class and her next batch of students, each of whom she tries to get to know personally (even in a 70-person class) and even tries to greet them at commencement ceremonies. “I draw energy from the students,” she says. “If they’re excited, then I’m excited.” Sisk took “Getting Ready to Teach Online,” a course offered through the Center for Teaching Excellence, in spring 2017, prior to teaching her first online course last summer. And the class went better than she ever expected. This past year she was one of seven instructors to teach in the university’s new three-week winter session, which consists entirely of online courses. “I came kicking and screaming into online teaching,” she says, “and now I think it is just so cool.” 

Learn more about Lisa Sisk in the UofSC News  story No Crisis: Instructor Feeds on Same Teaching Energy — in the Classroom and Online.

Lisa Sisk

Sandy Strick

Associate Professor
Director of the Wine and Beverage Institute
School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management
College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

Sandy Strick is a teacher who teaches teachers. That is, she’s one of only two faculty members in the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management who teaches pedagogy to the school’s doctoral students. Strick didn’t at first want to be a teacher.“I wanted to be a dietician,” she says. “But then I got to college and learned that chemistry was a big part of that. Chemistry and I did not get along!” Her award-winning classroom style focuses on active learning, real-world applications and student-centered learning. “Many of us have realized that lectures are not the best way to convey a lot of the things we deliver,” she says. Her recipe for success is to complement meaningful learning experiences — reading articles, professional presenters, field trips, tastings, demonstrations, online forums and team-based projects — with brief lecture material and relevant support material. But the renowned wine instructor still draws the line at chemistry. “When we do the formula for fermentation, I tell them this is all the chemistry they’re going to get from me!” she quips.

Learn more about Sandy Strick in the UofSC News  story Shaping the Future of Instruction.

Sandy Strick

Gail Wagner

Professor Emerita
Anthropology
College of Arts and Sciences

Gail Wagner believes students should leave her classroom with skills they can carry long after the semester ends. “I like to be able to list for students at the start of the course, ‘Here are the things you’re walking away with that are useful for your life — for getting a job or getting into graduate school or just furthering you as a person,’” she says. That’s one of the reasons she began requiring undergraduates in some classes to do original research and have the opportunity to earn a professional-level national certification for the work. “This can make them stand out as an undergraduate,” Wagner says. Wagner chooses projects that might at first appear to have obvious answers. “I particularly like to imagine how I can take something that is common or everyday and throw a spotlight on what we can learn from closer examination,” she says. “I believe these sorts of examples really stick in students’ minds and supply them with conversational fodder with friends and family. While the topics look simple, they introduce students to complex personal and cultural ideas.”

Learn more about Gail Wagner in the UofSC News  story Learning for Life.

Gail Wagner

Beth White

Clinical Senior Instructor
Elementary Education
Instruction and Teacher Education, Elementary Education
College of Education

When Beth White is in the classroom, the teaching hat never comes off. One minute she’s instructing her undergraduate education students about the finer points of literacy methods and reading assessment and in the next she’s guiding a room full of elementary students through a reading and writing exercise. White also consults with the classroom’s regular teacher to provide the undergrads with an up-close look at how the teaching process really works. “The most important tool in the classroom is the teacher’s brain,” she says, and to that end she strives to give her students the tools they need to help every student achieve. The cornerstone of White’s teaching is location — most of the instruction takes place in an actual elementary school classroom, which provides frequent teachable moments, she says. White devotes much of her time to observing in the moment and providing constant feedback to her students. “I’m trying to teach them to look for patterns in their small students,” she says, “and I’m trying to do the same thing with the undergraduates.” 

Learn more about Beth White in the UofSC News  story A Teacher’s Teacher.

Beth White

 


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