University Teaching Scholars Chair
Summary of Activities
Dr. Jana Fallin
Kansas State University celebrates excellence in teaching, and the University Distinguished Teaching Scholar award is one of the avenues created to recognize exemplary teaching and scholarship. Being awarded the Coffman Chair of the University Distinguished Teaching Scholars in 2002-2003 was a terrific honor, and provided me with many opportunities to learn more about the outstanding instruction provided across the campus by K-State faculty.
During the year as Coffman Chair, the recipient must design a project which will be of service to the university community. For my project, I chose to create an instructional DVD, highlighting professors on campus whose teaching is considered outstanding.
Engaging the Learner, a DVD illustrating exemplary teaching strategies and instructional methods and ideas from Kansas State University faculty, is the product developed during my year as the Coffman Chair of the University Distinguished Teaching Scholars 2002-2003. The project was originated due to my concern that some K-State faculty never seem to take advantage of the numerous teaching events offered on campus. In discussing my concerns with then Provost Jim Coffman, he asked me why I thought some individuals choose not to attend such meetings, seminars and lectures presented at K-State. My answer was that some truly have scheduling conflicts and are unable to attend, but I fear that some think they would be admitting a weakness by attending a session devoted to improving teaching. Those who enjoy learning more about successful teaching do not share these feelings or concerns, because they understand that one never “arrives” at a point where they are the best teacher possible. Excellent teachers are always growing and learning how to present their materials more effectively, which is one of the joys of teaching. One can always learn more.
In thinking about professors who decide not to attend events on campus dealing with improving teaching, my plan was to provide a vehicle where people could observe outstanding teachers at work, all from their own computer in their own office or home, and at a convenient times. The design of the DVD came from hours spent observing and filming classes at K-State, and then editing the film using an editing program Vegas Video, with guidance and help from Phyllis Epps, a graphic designer in K-State’s IT Division. My Graduate Teaching Assistant at the time of the award, Nate McClendon, a music teacher returning to earn a Master’s degree, was also a great help in the filming and editing process of the project. Nate also composed music to be included in the DVD. We spent hours in the library editing the footage from over 40 classes observed.
The footage from the various classes was viewed and organized according to emerging themes. The DVD was then designed around these topics such as Teaching the Large Lecture Class, Using Humor to Increase Learning, Engaging the Student in the Learning, Assessing Learning, Using Technology in Teaching, Questioning Ideas and other topics pertinent to good teaching practice. When viewing the DVD, one clicks on the menu screen, is then taken to a list of teaching topics from which to choose.
Faculty members involved in the project were chosen from award-winning instructors, suggestions from K-State faculty and students, and discussion with leadership in the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. Every college is represented on the DVD, as well as teaching personnel of every rank, from instructor to full professor. Large classes, studio teaching, seminars and lab teaching are part of the outstanding teaching on the DVD.
For the final presentation as Coffman Chair, all the faculty members involved in the DVD project were introduced at the event held in Fiedler Hall in the K-State Engineering complex April 3, 2003. A demonstration of the DVD was shown to the audience attending the Provost Lecture event. Observing people attending the lecture watch a huge screen filled with images of their K-State colleagues teaching was a fascinating experience in itself. The expressions of these faces were images of how much we all appreciate good educators. One attendee told me later that the event brought us all together in unity, not something that always happens on a college campus!
Engaging the Learner has been given to each new faculty member coming to K-State since the DVD was designed. Hopefully it continues each year to inspire and help people become better as educators of their chosen fields of study.
Being selected as a Kansas State University Distinguished Teaching Scholar in addition to being a great honor, made me feel like someone said “Thanks” for all the years of hard work of teaching in the Music Education Division at K-State. Many outstanding teachers work at K-State, and hopefully this DVD project has spotlighted some of the incredible individuals. THANKS to all of us whose lifework has been devoted to helping our young people prepare for careers and for living life more successfully.