Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
January 7, 2000

LAS honors five teachers

by Steve Sullivan
Five College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty members have been named Master Teachers by the college for the 1999-2000 academic year. The designation recognizes success in large class teaching, said Peter Orazem, interim associate dean of the college. The five master teachers are James Colbert, botany; Steve Kawaler, physics and astronomy; Wolfgang Kliemann, mathematics; Barbara Mack, journalism and communication; and Ron Peters, psychology.

This spring, the five will conduct seminars on large lecture teaching methods, assisted by the Center for Teaching Excellence, and open their classrooms to observation by other faculty. The seminars will begin next month; watch Insidefor details.

To select its master teachers, the college did "reputational" surveys of advisers, department heads and the Center for Teaching Excellence. The selections were based on a variety of factors, Orazem said. Some master teachers use technology to enhance their instruction, while others simply know how to "work a room." The asset all five share is enthusiasm for teaching, Orazem said.

Colbert's large classes are Botany 102: Biology of Plants and the two-semester sequence Biology 201 and 202: Principles of Biology. Colbert uses e-mail listserves to conduct virtual discussions, which are difficult in large lectures. Using the Web, Colbert also develops computer-based individual learning opportunities for his students.

Kawaler's large lecture class is Astronomy 120: The Sky and the Solar System. He also is known for Astronomy 250: Astronomy Bizarre, a course for nonscientists that explores things like black holes, quasars, colliding galaxies and searches for extraterrestrial life. Kawaler uses an existing Web site that lets students follow the path of the Leonid meteor shower or examine the best and worst of astronomy reporting in the press.

Kliemann's large class is Mathematics 104: Introduction to Probability and Matrices. Kliemann has a reputation for making mathematics understandable to students at all levels, and has top ratings from students, Orazem said.

Mack's large class is JLMC 101: Mass Media and Society, where she has a reputation for dynamic command of the classroom. She divides her students into small groups to help them learn together and also has out-of-class activities available on CD ROM.

Peters' large class is Psychology 101: Introduction to Psychology. Over the last 15 years, about 40 percent of ISU undergraduates have enrolled in his classes. Peters is active in training other faculty on large-lecture format techniques.

The five master teachers received a $500 honorarium and a plaque inscribed with a quote from Chaucer's description of the clerk of Oxenford in the Canterbury Tales:"Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."

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