August 20, 2014
Good Teaching Focuses on Relevance, Regents' Award Winner Says
Aug. 23, 2013
Dr. Karen Huxtable-Jester is known among her colleagues for helping faculty keep up with the latest teaching tools.
Dr. Karen Huxtable-Jester, recipient of the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, says good teaching starts with one thing – finding joy in connecting with students.
Huxtable-Jester has taught nearly 8,000 students since 2000, when she arrived at UT Dallas, where she is a teaching support coordinator and a senior lecturer in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
She says communicating the relevance of the course material well is important for maintaining a student’s interest and motivation. With a repertoire of seven courses ranging from educational psychology to research methods to family violence, Huxtable-Jester strives to make her subjects relevant for students.
“My course objectives focus on not just helping students to learn the content of the discipline, but also the ways scientists think about and generate new knowledge in the discipline,” she said.
Dr. Bert Moore, dean of the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Aage and Margareta Møller Distinguished Professor, said that Huxtable-Jester is a great resource to the school for helping with challenges in the classroom or keeping up with the latest teaching tools.
Dr. Karen Huxtable-Jester
TITLE: Senior lecturer and teaching support coordinator
RESEARCH INTERESTS: Attachment theory, developmental psychology, educational psychology, lifespan development
OTHER ACCOLADES: BBS Excellence in Teaching Award, BBS Senior’s Choice Award
"The Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award is the highest recognition of outstanding instruction within the University of Texas System, and Karen is a deserving recipient,” Moore said. “Not only is she a terrific lecturer, she is a wonderful mentor to her students and to all of us in BBS."
As the teaching support coordinator, she provides seminars on improved methods for teaching undergraduates.
“The students are wonderfully bright and talented, and their desire to learn is inspiring,” Huxtable-Jester said. “They don’t shy away from hard work, but they do want — and deserve — to know that their hard work will pay off. ”
Jonathon Shasteen, a psychology junior, said Huxtable-Jester emphasizes conceptual learning so that her students grasp the material enough to use it years later with confidence.
“She successfully does so by going beyond the textbook, facilitating frequent class discussion and enriching the academic experience through her knowledge of the topic and of the ways different students achieve a deeper understanding,” Shasteen said.
The fundamental goal, according to Huxtable-Jester, is to bring about changes in the way students think.
“Guiding students in formulating and pursuing their goals, both during and beyond the course, is the most important, and the most enjoyable, part of teaching,” she said.