President's Award Brings Element of Surprise for Chemistry Lecturer
Dr. Claudia Taenzler Credits Her Efforts to Stress Concepts over Memorization for Earning the Honor
June 25, 2014
Dr. Claudia Taenzler
UT Dallas senior lecturer Dr. Claudia Taenzler received this year’s President’s Teaching Excellence Award for Non-Tenure Track Faculty. The award recognizes her commitment to students both in and outside of the classroom.
The award committee receives hundreds of nominations every year and considers a broad spectrum of eligible candidates throughout the University. The award comes with a stipend of $4,000 and was presented at the annual Honors Convocation ceremony in May.
Taenzler, who works in the chemistry department in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, regularly teaches organic chemistry, and leads labs for general chemistry and organic chemistry. She also teaches quantitative analysis and instrumental analysis.
“The award came as a total surprise, and I didn’t think that something like this was possible. I am known for being challenging, and therefore it is such an even greater honor to be recognized by students and my colleagues in the chemistry department,” she said.
She said her efforts to help students understand the course material better by teaching concepts rather than forcing students to memorize it helped her earn the award.
“Chemistry is taught by doing examples and explaining them step by step,” she said. “In 2009, I started my first workshop class for organic chemistry where I met with students outside of the regular class times. We just did additional examples to reinforce what they learned in class. This is now an ongoing process, and I offer those workshop classes on a regular basis.”
“Seeing how students grow and learn is the most rewarding part of teaching by far.”
Taenzler said many students have approached her to show their appreciation, including one who is heading off to medical school next semester.
“He thanked me for teaching him how to study. When he told me about his acceptance to medical school, I was very happy for him,” Taenzler said. “Another student told me that if I wouldn’t have pushed her as hard as I did, she would never have been able to recognize how far she could go.”
Taenzler looks forward to the challenge of teaching in the future; she said every semester brings an opportunity to learn something new.
“Seeing how students grow and learn is the most rewarding part of teaching by far,” she said.
Taenzler earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in chemistry from Gerhard Mercator University in Duisburg, Germany.