Wednesday,
June 5, 2019

Wednesday,
June 5, 2019

Category:

University Honors Educators with Awards for Teaching Excellence

June 6, 2019

From left: Abhijit Biswas, Dr. Mary Urquhart, Dr. Joanna Gentsch, Dr. Danieli Rodrigues and Dr. Julie Parsons were recognized at the third annual Celebration of Teaching Excellence.

Five educators from The University of Texas at Dallas recently were recognized with President’s Teaching Excellence Awards for their positive impact on student learning and innovation in the classroom.

UT Dallas President Richard C. Benson honored the recipients for their outstanding efforts on May 2 at the third annual Celebration of Teaching Excellence. The Center for Teaching and Learning requests nominees for the awards each year. 

The honorees also were lauded May 13 during the Honors Convocation Ceremony.

 

President’s Teaching Excellence Award in Undergraduate Instruction (tenure track)

Dr. Danieli Rodrigues

Dr. Danieli Rodrigues, assistant professor of bioengineering
Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science

How long have you taught at UT Dallas?

“I joined UT Dallas in July 2012 and taught my first class in the fall of that year.”

What is the most rewarding part of the teaching experience?

“As I teach applied topics in medical devices, I use real-life examples and current challenges in our field to get students excited about learning the material, emphasizing how they can use the information to contribute for the future generation of devices. It is just amazing to hear students’ ideas, conversations and questions as they learn the content. But, the most rewarding part of teaching is when you learn from students that your course made a positive impact, when you hear that the class opened their eyes for opportunities never considered, when you are told at the end of a semester that your lectures fostered the desire for continued learning and a career in the field.”

What is one of your favorite memories from teaching at UT Dallas?

“Preparing and teaching the first undergraduate course offered by the Department of Bioengineering in 2012. It was a bit intimidating because it was my first contact with students at UT Dallas and first time ever teaching the class content. This first classroom experience proved to be the most memorable. Students were very receptive of my teaching style, and I got to know and recruit amazing undergrads who joined my lab and helped me start my research program. And many of those undergraduate research assistants became my graduate students.”

 

President’s Teaching Excellence Award in Undergraduate Instruction (non-tenure track)

Dr. Joanna Gentsch

Dr. Joanna Gentsch, senior lecturer and director of student and community engagement
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences

How long have you taught at UT Dallas?

“I began teaching undergraduates in 2003.”

What is the most rewarding part of the teaching experience?

“The most rewarding part of teaching is watching students grow intellectually and in their worldviews. Sometimes I see it over the course of a semester, and sometimes if I’m lucky and I have them in more than one class, I get to see significant individual growth.”

What is one of your favorite memories from teaching at UT Dallas?

“My favorite teaching memories have been working with students in the field in community-engaged learning classes. When they begin to connect what they have learned in the classroom with their applied experiences, it is transformative.”

 

President’s Teaching Excellence Award
in Graduate/Professional Instruction

Dr. Mary Urquhart

Dr. Mary Urquhart, associate professor and department head of Science/Mathematics Education
School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

How long have you taught at UT Dallas?

“I have taught at UT Dallas since spring 2003, after joining the faculty in October 2002.”

What is the most rewarding part of the teaching experience?

“Working with incredibly dedicated, intelligent and passionate students who care about learning is absolutely rewarding to me as an instructor. I know the impacts I make in my own teaching, positive or negative, have the potential to be magnified many times over in the classrooms of the teachers who are my students. That’s a huge responsibility, yet one of the most empowering parts of my job.”

What is one of your favorite memories from teaching at UT Dallas?

“Receiving letters, emails or notes from current and former students who tell me what a difference I have made to them is uplifting beyond my ability to describe. Each of these expressions of gratitude make me feel deeply grateful in return. As my colleagues and I have talked about, seeing how we matter to students makes all of our hard work and inevitable frustrations worthwhile. Making a difference to students is why we do what we do.”

 

President’s Teaching Excellence Award
in Online/Blended Instruction

Abhijit Biswas

Abhijit Biswas, clinical professor of marketing
Naveen Jindal School of Management

How long have you taught at UT Dallas?

“I’ve been teaching here at UT Dallas and in the Naveen Jindal School of Management for the past 19 years.”

What is the most rewarding part of the teaching experience?

“Over the years, I have discovered that the most rewarding part of my teaching experience is seeing the evolution of my students’ questions over the duration of a course. Questions are as important as answers. Seeing students organically asking good questions, relevant questions and ‘better’ questions in class not only opens the corridors of learning but also signals their academic maturation. The better I teach, the better the questions.”

What is one of your favorite memories from teaching at UT Dallas?

“Once I was in a fender bender coming to teach a class. I somehow reached the Jindal School 45 minutes after the class start time and went to my office to send an email to the students about the makeup session. Much to my surprise, four of the students were anxiously waiting at my office door and said that not a single student had left. They were all waiting in class – not wanting to miss even the 30 minutes of lecture time remaining.”

 

President’s Teaching Excellence Award
for Teaching Assistants

Julie Parsons PhD’19

Dr. Julie Parsons, teaching assistant
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences 

How long have you taught at UT Dallas?

“I have served in a teaching role at UT Dallas for five years. I have been a teaching assistant for 12 courses, and I have taught two of my own courses.”

What is the most rewarding part of the teaching experience?

“For me, the most rewarding part of the teaching experience is when students are able to apply concepts that they learn in class to their everyday lives. For example, after a class on happiness, several students identified small aspects of their lives that they could modify in order to achieve a greater level of happiness. It brings me joy to know that these students are able to use the knowledge they gained in my classes to improve their own lives and potentially the lives of those around them.”

What is one of your favorite memories from teaching at UT Dallas?

“Toward the end of a course on research methods in psychology, one student came into my office because her grades were not as high as she had hoped they would be. I reviewed some of the material with her, then gave her a short practice test on it. At this point, she saw more clearly which topics she was still struggling with, so we went over those in more detail. In the next class, I gave a short quiz. While going over one of the questions, I could see many students were confused, but that particular student seemed confident. I asked her if she was willing to explain the correct answer. She beamed as she eloquently walked her classmates through her reasoning. I love this moment partly because the student learned more of the course content and thus was able to succeed in the class. However, what I love even more is that she is now better equipped for future learning in any course; she can identify which concepts she understands and which concepts she does not. She can then employ effective strategies to learn these difficult concepts more fully.”

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Media Contact: Brittany Magelssen, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4357,[email protected]
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