MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award

The Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Excellence in Teaching Award was created to raise the attention given to excellence in teaching and mentoring as a component of graduate education and as part of the preparation of graduate students for future service as college and university faculty. The award recognizes graduate students who exemplify excellence in the teaching and learning mission of our universities.

The 2022 MAGS Excellence in Teaching Awards recognized excellence by a master’s student and a doctoral student and were bestowed at the MAGS 78th Annual Meeting in Milwaukee, WI, April 7, 2022.

Winners of the MAGS Excellence in Teaching Award each received a $750 honorarium, plus up to $500 toward travel expenses to attend the MAGS meeting.

MAGS Teaching Award Recipients


Doctoral Student Feyza Akova, The University of Notre Dame
Feyza Akova is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Feyza was the instructor of record for an undergraduate-level class called “Foundations of Sociological Theory” and also served as a teaching assistant for two other sociology courses. Feyza understands that learning about theoretical concepts can be difficult for students, so she structured her class in a way that shed light on the relevance of sociological ways of thinking while imparting key critical thinking skills. By using creative course materials and assignments and adopting a discussion-based class structure, Feyza created an environment where students could become more confident in their ability to comprehend complex topics while broadening their perspectives. Prior to joining the University of Notre Dame, Feyza earned an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Houston and B.A. degrees in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Istanbul. Feyza’s dissertation research explores spiritual transformation, tradition, and social change in the context of modernity through a case study that focuses on converts to contemporary Sufi Islam.
Honorable Mention Tara Jean (TJ) Mesyn, Michigan State University

Master’s Student Lynnli Wang, Indiana University
Lynnli Wang is a M. M. student in organ performance and the inaugural Carillon Associate Instructor at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music. As IU’s inaugural Carillon Associate Instructor, Lynnli has created a new carillon academic program, which includes an active student Carillon Studio that performs regularly for campus. In the last two years, IU renovated and dedicated two new carillons, the Metz Bicentennial Grand Carillon and the Music Addition Carillon – together, the two instruments contain over 150 bells played by students daily. Lynnli teaches students one-on-one and hosts a weekly concert series that features guest artists, the Carillon Studio, and herself playing everything from pop songs and jazz to folk tunes and original carillon compositions. To extend the reach of the bells, Lynnli collaborates with students and faculty across the university, such as guest lecturing, leading tours, mentoring student composers and premiering their works, commissioning new pieces, authoring children’s books, and more. Lynnli is immensely proud of how her students quickly master carillon technique and musicianship, and then take the extra step to use the carillon’s miles-wide sonic reach to uplift others and promote change. Her students have performed concerts dedicated to BIPOC composers, underrepresented populations, and most recently, solidarity for Ukraine.
Honorable Mention Andrea Ramirez Tello, Kansas State University


Doctoral Student Patrick Heslin, Mathematics, University of Notre Dame
Patrick Heslin is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Notre Dame, where he has taught over 400 students across 7 semesters. Originally from county Leitrim in Ireland, he completed his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Maynooth University before coming to the U.S. for his Ph.D. studies. Patrick believes that a lecture is most effective when treated like a performance, and that having an underlying energy goes a long way to holding an audience. He prioritizes concepts over methods and believes that building trust with students is a central component in overcoming the common stigma and fear around college level mathematics. He often incorporates active learning into his classrooms and has been an instructor of record for several flipped classroom models, both online and in person. His own research interests lie in the geometry and analysis of non-linear partial differential equations arising in fluid dynamics and other areas of mathematical physics. More precisely, he studies Riemannian geometry of diffeomorphism groups, equipped with various Sobolev-type metrics.
Honorable Mention  Sarah Beal, Classics, University Cincinnati
Masters Student Mariam Elgafy, Communication, University Cincinnati
Mariam Elgafy is a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati where she is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Communication. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant at UC’s Department of Communication, Mariam has taught over 300 students in her Public Speaking and Business Communication sections, as well as in a TA experience for a Public Relations seminar. Her teaching philosophy is rooted in empowering students to engage in dialogues that pertain to their identity, giving students the platform to voice their opinions, and equipping students with the tools to effectively influence others and enact change in their professional fields and interpersonal relationships. Mariam emphasizes the role of educators and higher education institutions in creating a space for students to embrace their authentic identities, while prioritizing accessibility of technology and mental health resources. Mariam currently serves as the Graduate Assistant for UC’s Office of Government Relations and attends to volunteer work in faith-based professional networks in Cincinnati. Mariam received UC’s 2020 university-wide Graduate Assistant MA Excellence in Teaching award.

Mariam’s thesis project, chaired by Dr. Ronald Jackson III, focuses on media representations and framings of state legislations that impact marginalized communities. Mariam’s research focuses on intercultural and identity communication, media representation, and faith/race-based identities. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Cincinnati, Mariam earned her B.S. in Education, B.A. in Communication, and minor in Political Science. As an undergraduate, Mariam engaged with Student Government, student taught at various schools in Ohio, mentored students, and worked at a tutoring center teaching Arabic; later earning UC’s Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence in 2019. Post-masters, Mariam plans to work for 1-2 years before pursuing a Law degree and allowing her passion for educational reform and policy making to flourish.

Honorable Mention Paul Myers, Communication, Wichita State University


Doctoral Student Rachel Thomas, Educational Psychology, Ball State University
Rachel N. Thomas is a 4th-year doctoral student in the Educational Psychology department at Ball State University. Rachel specializes in human development, and has taught a variety of human development courses at Ball State University, to include seven semesters as a teaching assistant for graduate courses and five semesters as instructor of record for undergraduate courses. Rachel’s teaching philosophy is rooted in helping learners understand and appreciate the multiplicity of complex influences shaping human development, and as such, rejects the notion of a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction. She designs her courses and delivers content with a number of specific instructional philosophies in mind, including autonomy support, flexibility, active engagement, and diverse representation.

Rachel earned her B.A. in Psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2010 and her Master’s in Theological Studies at Bethel University in 2014. Her research interests involve issues of gender identity and expression in educational settings. She has authored several presentations at national conferences on topics such as psychological gender identity and students’ academic self-efficacy, inclusive education, and teachers’ roles in adolescent bullying. Her dissertation work investigates elementary teachers’ contributions to classroom gender climate.

Honorable Mention  Eva Marie Gulotty, University of Notre Dame
Masters Student Carlos Lozano, Western Michigan University
Carlos Lozano is currently pursuing a Master in Music degree from Western Michigan University, where he is one of the Graduate Assistants for the Strings Department. A native of Veracruz, Mexico, Carlos started violin lessons at a young age, studying under Iliana Stefanova and Nataliya Semanivska in Mexico. Carlos graduated summa cum laude in 2018 from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where he studied under Carla Trynchuk, completing a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance. While in college, he started taking viola lessons with Dr. Claudio Gonzalez, and played both violin and viola in chamber groups and orchestra. During his junior year of college, he won the Concerto Competition at Andrews University, and performed the first movement of the Khachaturian Violin Concerto with the University Orchestra.

He has participated in masterclasses with Kurt Sassmannshaus, Olga Dubossarskaya Kaler, and Lyndon Taylor on the violin, and with Roger Chase, Basil Vendryes and Susan Dubois on the viola. As a chamber musician he has performed in masterclasses and worked with the Kontras String Quartet and the Lafayette String Quartet. Carlos has participated in the Rocky Ridge Music Festival and Round Top Festival Institute, where he studied under David Rose, Susan Dubois, Brett Deubner and Ettore Causa. He has also played with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra as a WMU Artist Scholar.

Carlos is currently studying under Igor Fedotov and David Lisker, and he helps the studio by teaching violin and viola lessons. He has been teaching since his college years, and he believes teaching to be one of the most important duties for artists and musicians.

Honorable Mention Lauren Trichtinger, University of Notre Dame


Doctoral Student Braden Krien, English, University of Iowa
Braden Krien Brady Krien is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at the University of Iowa. After earning his B.A. in English and economics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and his M.A. in English at Marquette University, he came to Iowa where he has taught first-year writing in the Rhetoric Department, worked with students individually in the Writing Center, and trained first-time teachers in the Rhetoric Department’s Professional Develop Program.Brady has advanced his own teaching development through additional teaching coursework, working with the University of Iowa Center for the Integration of Teaching Research and Learning (CIRTL), and the Center for Teaching’s Graduate Teaching Fellowship program. His approach to teaching is rooted in discovery-based learning techniques and strategies to individualize instruction for each student. Brady’s research focuses on using digital methods to understand environmental writing in nineteenth century periodicals as a form of knowledge infrastructure and he currently works in the Graduate Success Office at the University of Iowa Graduate College.
Honorable Mention  Anna Aboud, Department of Mathematics, Iowa State University
Masters Student Cecilia Perales-Garcia, Spanish Education, University of Nebraska Kearney
Cecilia Perales-Garcia Cecilia G. Perales – Garcia is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Spanish Education and serves as the Graduate Assistant for the Modern Languages Department in the University of Nebraska Kearney. She is originally from Durango, Mexico and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Education degree in Spanish Education with an endorsement in English as a Second Language from the University of Nebraska Kearney in May 2017.

While at the University of Nebraska Kearney, Cecilia has been heavily involved on campus, she now helps the Admissions department at UNK facilitate Spanish-language campus visits for area monolingual Spanish-speaking families. Considering she is a first-generation immigrant and college graduate, she has put it upon herself to do what she can to help others who may be facing the same challenges she had.

Off-campus, Cecilia presented at the “No Limits Conference Women’s and Gender Studies” in Omaha, NE last spring. The title of her paper was “Fronteras de Patria, Fronteras de Género: El papel de la mujer en dos obras de teatro recientes”. (Frontiers of Homeland, Frontiers of Gender: The role of women in two recent plays). The presentation was influenced by two recent plays Amarillo and Arizona both in which, in their own way, apart from questioning current politics and attitudes towards immigration, also present a rather critical view of the treatment of women.

Honorable Mention Steven Lemke, Department of Art, Art History, & Design, University of Notre Dame


Doctoral Student Chase Mayers, Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Iowa State University
Chase Mayers is a Ph.D. candidate and microbiology major at Iowa State University (ISU) in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology. During his time at ISU, he has taught more than 350 students in human anatomy, microbiology, and mycology laboratory courses, including five semesters as instructor of record. Chase received training through ISU’s Preparing Future Faculty program and Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. He created supplementary videos to enable flipped-classroom approaches and was heavily involved in developing and implementing active, team-based learning strategies to a lecture course for the first time. He is a firm believer in evidence-based teaching, an advocate for open-access and open-source educational resources, and an active leader in community science outreach. Originally from Gonzales, Louisiana (the Jambalaya Capital of the World), Chase received his B.S. in microbiology from Louisiana State University. He studies the evolution and diversity of fungi, and plans to create a research program that will integrate this research into the classroom and the community via student-generated data collection and citizen science.
Honorable Mention Tasneem Amatullah, Educational Leadership, Miami University
Amy Underwood, Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri
Masters Student  Catherine Williams, English, Kansas State University
Catherine Williams is a Master’s student in English at Kansas State University. Her research examines the intersections of cultural studies and children’s literature, particularly depictions of motherhood and mental illness within American literature. She received her BA in English from Kansas Wesleyan University. As a graduate teaching assistant she has independently taught three sections of a unique expository writing course that ties issues of community—such as race, gender, and class—to the development of writing. Additionally, she has dedicated over 300 hours to interdisciplinary tutoring and peer mentorship at Kansas State’s Writing Center. Her teaching philosophy centers around a “strengths-based” mindset and emphasizes student-led learning. She currently serves as president of Kansas State’s English graduate student organization and is the non-fiction editor for Touchstone, Kansas State’s literary magazine. Catherine plans to begin her doctoral studies at the University of Houston in the fall.
Honorable Mention Colton Lynn, Communication Studies, Missouri State University


Doctoral Student Amanda Martens, Psychology, Kansas State University
Amanda Martens Amanda Martens is a doctoral student in the Social Psychology program at Kansas State University.  To date, Amanda has been the instructor of record fourteen times.  Her experiences range from teaching introductory courses (such as General Psychology and Introductory Psychology Lab) at Emporia State University, to teaching both introductory and upper level courses (such as General Psychology, Psychology of Women, Social Psychology, and Personality Psychology) at Kansas State University.  Her primary research interests focus on examining perceptions of women within the lenses of both traditional and contemporary gender roles.  She uses her research program not only to discover novel empirical findings to further the extant knowledge of social psychology, but also as a vehicle by which she empowers her undergraduate collaborators.  She mentors approximately four undergraduates in her laboratory each semester, and to date she has co-authored fourteen national conference presentations with her undergraduate collaborators. Amanda also serves as the graduate student representative on the K-State Budget Advisory Committee, and has served as K-State’s Graduate Student Council President. Amanda earned her B.S. from Morningside College in Sioux City, IA and her M.S. from Emporia State University in Emporia, KS.
Honorable Mention  Wendy J. Truran, English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Masters Student Taylor Smith, Psychology, Missouri State University
Taylor.Smith.2017.MAGS Taylor Smith is a second-year graduate student in the Experimental Psychology program at Missouri State University on her way to earning a Master’s of Science.  Through her teaching assistantship, research experience, and practicum opportunities she has found her passion in teaching with a focus on diversity within and outside the classroom.  As an instructor and graduate assistant for the Introductory Psychology courses, she spends the majority of her time helping students succeed in the realm of academia.  Keen to pursue valuable opportunities, Taylor is also the acting graduate representative for Southwestern Teachers of Psychology (SWToP) and a level 1 partner for a Living Learning Community on campus.  Additionally, she coordinates with local middle schools to host and facilitate a workshop for students which encourages critical thinking about various topics in diversity while incorporating fun activities. Taylor has also spent several years assisting with the development of an online course format for a discussion based, capstone Diversity class.  Ultimately, she desires to pursue a Doctorate within the field of Social Psychology.
Honorable Mention Alyson Sander, Communication Studies, Ball State University


Doctoral Student Justin Hastings, English, Loyola University Chicago
Hastings Justin Hastings is a doctoral candidate and Graduate Instructor in the English Department at Loyola University Chicago.  His teaching career has covered courses in English literature, Medieval Studies, Classics, Latin, foreign languages, and rhetoric and composition.  His primary research interest is the medieval inheritance of the classical tradition, and his dissertation explores the way the Horatian tradition was used in Old and Middle English literary production. He currently holds the Schmitt Fellowship in Leadership and Service and received the Medieval Academy of America’s Janet Lumiansky Dissertation Grant, which supported archival research at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris and the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan.  Justin completed his B.A. from Mount Union College and his M.A. from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto.
Honorable Mention Chelsea Schnabelrauch Arndt, Psychology, Kansas State University
Masters Student Katrina Hanna, Communications Studies, Kansas State University
Hanna.jpg Katrina (Kat) Hanna is currently enrolled in her final semester of graduate school at Kansas State University where she is pursuing a Masters in Communication Studies. Hanna is originally from Perryville, Arkansas and received her B.A. in Communication Studies at Arkansas Tech University in 2014. As a Graduate Teaching Assistant Hanna has independently instructed 10 Public Speaking courses. Moreover, 6 of those classes were part of the Pilot’s Program at Kansas State. This intensive retention program sets aside introductory courses for incoming freshman in which 60% are first-generation college students. During her two years at K-State, Hanna has also served as a member of K-State’s Honor Council which has only molded how she approaches plagiarism and academic dishonesty in the classroom. To date, Hanna has presented her research at both local and national conferences. Surrounding communicative constructions of identity, the majority of the research Hanna conducts heavily influences how she thinks about her role as an instructor. Hanna is currently completing her thesis project and beginning preparations for attending a PhD program in Communication Studies in the fall.
Honorable Mention Anna Percival, Communication Studies, Eastern Illinois University


Doctoral Student Alyssa Lederer, MPH, CHES, Applied Health Science, School of Public Health, Indiana University
Alyssa Lederer Alyssa Lederer is a doctoral candidate and Associate Instructor at Indiana University’s School of Public Health-Bloomington. She has taught classes in human sexuality, public health program planning, research methods, health education, health behavior theory, and public health pedagogy at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Alyssa is also the Instructional and Training Coordinator for graduate student instructors in her department. Her research interests are intervention design, program evaluation, and the intersection of health education and behavior change, especially related to sexual health in late adolescence. She is also interested in public health pedagogy research, particularly graduate student instructional development.She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and Master of Public Health from Emory University. Prior to entering her doctoral program, she worked in the non-profit reproductive health field and as a university-based health educator. Alyssa is Chair-Elect of the American College Health Association Health Promotion Section and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of American College Health and Pedagogy in Health Promotion: The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. After completing her PhD, Alyssa intends to apply for public health faculty positions in order to pursue both research and teaching in higher education.
Masters Student Ken Ward, Wichita State University
Photo Ken Ward is a lecturer at Wichita State University, having received his M.A. in Communication from Wichita State in May of 2014. As a graduate teaching assistant, he taught 11 sections of Public Speaking and special courses in public relations at Wichita State as well as a number of courses at Bethel College. Since moving into a lecturer position, Ken has expanded the number of courses he teaches to include offerings in mass media writing, communication theory, and media history.Ken earned a B.A. in Communication Arts from Bethel College, Kansas, in 2011. He took time before turning to graduate studies to gain professional experience, reporting and editing for The McPherson Sentinel in McPherson, Kan. and producing live talk shows and sporting events for 1410 KGSO-AM in Wichita. He has accepted an offer of full support from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where he will begin Ph.D. work in August.


Doctoral Student Jaime L. Hartenstein, Family Studies, Kansas State University
J Hartenstein Picture Jaimee L. Hartenstein is a doctoral candidate in Family Studies at Kansas State University and a Certified Family Life Educator. Hartenstein received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology and Mass Communications and her Master’s in Family Studies from Kansas State University. She has taught two undergraduate courses independently for ten semesters. She has instructed courses in both an on-campus and online formats. Her primary research interest is divorce and child custody and has presented her research at both national and local conferences. Hartenstein has served the K-State community in co-founding a GTA Support Group for the School of Family Studies and Human Services. She is a graduate student member of the K-State Honor and Integrity Council and a member of a number of national organizations such as National Council on Family Relations, Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Family Science Association. Hartenstein has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in Family Services at Eastern Illinois University and will be starting in the fall.
Masters Student Daniel Caine, English, John Carroll University
D Caine Picture Daniel (Danny) Caine is currently completing his MA in English at John Carroll University, where he teaches first-year composition as a graduate assistant. He strongly believes in empowering student writers, individualized instruction, and broadening the audience for student writing beyond the classroom walls. He is the assistant director of the John Carroll Writing Center and the coordinator for the John Carroll Young Writers Workshop. He has acted as Editor in Chief of The John Carroll Review, and as graduate student liaison to the John Carroll Composition Committee. His poetry has appeared in New Ohio Review and The Café Review.  This summer he will present a paper at the Biennial International Ernest Hemingway Conference in Venice, Italy, with the support of a Jim & Nancy Hinkle Travel Grant. Prior to attending John Carroll, Danny taught at Smithville High School in rural Ohio for three years, where he coordinated and chaperoned way too many high school dances. He earned his BA in English from College of Wooster in 2008.


Doctoral Student Tammy Sonnentag, Social-Develpomental Psychology, Kansas State University
 sonnentag-tammy Tammy Sonnentag is a doctoral candidate in the Social-Developmental Psychology program at Kansas State University.  Sonnentag earned her Master’s degree in 2010 from Kansas State University after completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2006. Sonnentag’s aspirations for a career in academia have been, and continue to be, evident in her teaching, research, and service activities at Kansas State University.  As a Graduate Teaching Assistant, Sonnentag has independently instructed 11 and co-instructed 2 undergraduate courses in Psychology.  She has also assisted faculty with 9 courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.  To date, Sonnentag’s research collaborations have yielded her authorship on nine peer-reviewed publications (either accepted or submitted).  Her research has also been presented nationally and internationally on 20 different occasions. Sonnentag is also highly involved in service, currently serving as the President of the Graduate Student Council at Kansas State University – a position that allows her the opportunity to actively contribute to advancing the personal and professional experiences of all graduate students at Kansas State.  Sonnentag is the graduate student representative on Graduate Council and Academic Affairs committee and has served on the Women of K-State and Tuition Strategies university-wide committees.
Masters Student Jarred Pfeiffer, MFA Ceramics, Kansas State University
jared-pfeiffer Jarred Pfeiffer is currently enrolled in his final semester of graduate school at Kansas State University where he is pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts degree in ceramics.  He has been surrounded by art, and teaching, his entire life.  His parents have a combined 65 years of teaching, his father as a high school ceramics teacher.  His sister is a print maker, his older brother is a painter and his younger brother is about to move to Thailand to teach English.Pfeiffer is originally from Hartland, WI and received his undergraduate degree in art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007.  He then spent two years doing Teach for America in Charlotte, NC where he taught high school geometry and algebra at Philip O Berry Academy of Technology.  In the two years teaching in Charlotte he raised his students’ passing rate on the state End of Course Exam from 43% to 89%.  The experience was the most challenging, yet most rewarding experience of the young artist’s life.  His love of mathematics and nature continues to have a strong influence on his ceramic work.When not in his studio, Pfeiffer enjoys spending time being active.  An avid environmentalist, Pfeiffer loves everything from hiking, biking and running, to disc golf and soccer.  Of course, as a Wisconsinite he is a huge Packers, Badgers and Brewers fan and loves attending games whenever possible.

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Doctoral Student Connor Doak, Slavic Languages and Literature, Northwestern University
Teaching Philosophy

Connor is a scholar and teacher of Russian literature, famous for its writers who ask grand, philosophical questions about the world. Why does evil exist? Can anything good result from of revolution? Can beauty truly save the world? I too encourage my students to confront such questions in my classes, equipping them with the skills to reflect critically on the most profound ideas presented in the texts. My broad, interdisciplinary approach to culture leads me to include a wide variety of texts–both literary and non-literary–in my class. As a result, my students report that my classes effectively provide an immersion in Russian culture.FutureConnor is currently an ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellow in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern University. He will graduate in June 2013 and hopes to pursue an academic career in his chosen field of Russian literature.
Masters Student Leslie Hull, Theater, Michigan State University
Teaching PhilosophyAs a teacher of the performing arts it is my privilege to engage students on a deeply human and uniquely individual level. Theatre at its core is the study of people and their actions. It is because of this that I offer my students the chance to focus wholly on themselves and the other individuals with whom they share the learning environment. This intimate and introspective space is more often than not unfamiliar and exciting territory and with their new found or revived passion for learning students open up to themselves and to others both on stage and off in awe inspiring ways. In a world where intrapersonal relationships exist primarily on blinking screens and in little bubble blocks of text, having the opportunity to offer young willing minds the chance to experience true connection in the ‘real world’ without the aid of technology is truly powerful, and in my humble opinion vitally important. It is my hope that the pupils in my classroom will become our future patrons, donors, artists and enthusiasts whom will help to continue the pursuit of truth which all Theatre strives to achieve.FutureI will soon make the move to New York City to continue my pursuit of a career in the Performing Arts. While there I hope to continue my educational endeavors both as instructor and eternal student.


Doctoral Student Brandon Sullivan, The Ohio State University
Teaching Philosophy.  Classically trained as a biologist and chemist, I describe my teaching pedagogy as Darwinian.  In Darwin’s blueprint for life he credits evolution for the beauty and sophistication seen in nature.  Evolution requires both diversity and natural selection to achieve success and overcome a myriad of obstacles.  These principles are equally powerful within the classroom under the themes of experimentation and assessment.  As students and teachers one can continually learn from Nature, our eldest and eminent teacher.

Future.  Brandon is in the final stages of his graduate career at the Ohio State University.  He is writing his dissertation and preparing for an academic postdoctoral position.

Masters Student Patrick Silvey, Truman State University
Teaching Philosophy.  As an instructor of writing my immediate goal is to help students to clearly communicate their thoughts and ideas.  However, my job is somewhat more complicated than that because, as I see it, before a student should express her ideas she must first develop the critical thinking skills necessary to analyze and evaluate them.  My job, therefore, is not merely to teach students to write, but to teach students to write in a way that evidences critical thinking.  Because I put so much emphasis on critical thinking skills, I have found that there is a lot of value in nurturing a student’s independence as a scholar.  I make it clear to my class that I encourage fresh approaches to old ideas and I’m willing to entertain any argument.  In short, I assess a student for her ability to reason and argue and not for her ability to choose an interesting topic.

Future.  I plan to move to Des Moines, Iowa, where I am currently looking for a job.  I hope to submit some of the many papers I have written during my graduate career at Truman State University (including parts of my thesis) for publication and presentation.  Soon I will apply to return to school to complete my graduate work and earn my Ph.D. in American studies with a focus in American literature.