Teaching Assistant Honored for Winning Formula in Classroom

Zachary Tran

Zachary Tran

As a teaching assistant, Zachary Tran prepared “Jeopardy!” review games for his students before every exam. The winners of the game took home handfuls of candy.

 “It was really great to see them involved in friendly competition. In addition to trying to make workshop fun, I wanted to put the material in a way that would be engaging,” Tran said. “I feel that learning should be fun and students often forget this behind the daily grind of quizzes and exams.”

Tran’s students recognized his efforts by nominating him for a President’s Outstanding Teaching Award, which was presented at the recent Honors Convocation ceremony.

“Mr. Tran clearly demonstrates a respect for the role of a TA by going above and beyond for his biochemistry students. His students spoke highly of him during the nomination process,” Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president and UT Dallas provost, said at the ceremony.

Tran taught the Biochemistry I Workshop in fall 2013 and Introductory Biology I workshop in fall 2012.

“I’m honored to have been recognized,” Tran said. “It’s a testament of the great students we have at UT Dallas who were motivated to show up each and every week. They work hard and it inspires me to work even harder to make their time worthwhile. They deserve the best.”

Tran has also served as a peer leader in the University’s Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) Program, an academic support program that helps students meet in small groups to study together. He said his experience in the program prepared him for his role as a teaching assistant.

“The PLTL model is all about not telling students the answers and have them reach their own conclusions. I tried to incorporate this into my workshop. If I just stood at the front of the room every week and just spat out answers to my students, how would they learn anything? It would be extremely boring,” Tran said.

After graduating with his bachelor’s in biology and a minor in business administration, Tran will be attending the UT School of Medicine at San Antonio this fall.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].