Category Archives: Teaching Showcase

Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Mari Buche

by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL

The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the School of Business and Economics. Dean Gene Klippel has chosen to recognize Mari Buche, associate professor of management information sciences and the graduate program director for the MS in Data Science.

Dean Klippel simply made a list of what he looks for in a faculty member as it relates to teaching excellence, and then found in Buche a faculty member that embodied the entire list. Klippel’s characteristics include exceptional disciplinary knowledge and skill maintenance through professional development activities as well as a passion for the discipline. Mari demonstrates these through membership and extensive speaking, participation and mentoring in three professional societies—ACM, America’s Conference on Information Systems and the Midwest Association of Information Systems. Klippel also noted exceptional verbal communication skills as something Buche brings to all of her interactions through the School.

But Dean Klippel also looks for some “softer” traits, including genuine caring about the success of students and a willingness to listen to student feedback regarding course materials and structure. He noted that Mari goes beyond the classroom to support the success of students and brings alumni back as guest speakers. Mari’s previous recognition as the 2014 Outstanding Faculty Greek Life Award through the Order of Omega and as a “Props for Profs winner through the Jackson CTL in spring 2014 shows a strong student connection as well.

Mari will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Klippel and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Mari for her outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the School of Business and Economics.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Scott Kuhl

by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL

The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the College of Sciences and Arts. Dean Bruce Seely has chosen to recognize Scott Kuhl, an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science with an adjunct appointment in Cognitive and Learning Sciences. Dean Seely values “what Scott Kuhl attempts to accomplish as a teacher mainly for the mindset he employs, and less for the specific teaching techniques has adopted.” He notes that Scott “does not differentiate between regular classes, summer youth and support for Enterprise activities as educational venues—but approaches all with the goal of creating a fun and motivating environment.”

In his more traditional courses, Scott does attribute his teaching success to specific techniques, like providing detailed assignment descriptions with numerous tips to “help get students going in the right direction.” He also provides numerous examples, some of which he walks through in class in detail, and encourages students to share additional examples with each other. Finally, he emphasizes prompt feedback for his students. He has accomplished this by creating an automatic grading program which provides a “provides a transparent, well-defined set of expectations for assignments” and a score that can be adjusted by an instructor or grader as necessary. He’s even willing to share this tool with those interested.

Kuhl is also focused on continual improvement. Though the Husky Game Development  (HGD) Enterprise he leads is focused on games, he attributes its dramatic growth under his leadership to a careful cycle of feedback, change and evaluation. He sees the value of interdisciplinary teamwork, communication, development and management for students in HGD, and has led the group in both publishing academic papers and receiving sponsorship from both Chrysler and the Department of Labor.

Scott will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Seely, computer science chair Min Song and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Scott for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Sciences and Arts.


Dean’s Teaching Showcase: Gordon Parker

The Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominee for this week comes from the College of Engineering. Dean Wayne Pennington has chosen to recognize Gordon Parker, the John and Cathi Drake Professor in the Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics Department. Both Pennington and MEEM chair Bill Predebon praised Parker as “a great success story of the flipped classroom approach.” Gordon has effectively implemented the flipped classroom model in both a senior level and graduate level controls course, and now has more than 30 video clips that are being used world-wide.

Parker attributes his success to his ability to “borrow techniques from my colleagues, add some of my own ideas, mix them into my teaching style and serve them up to willing students.” He acknowledges that some of his innovations didn’t work, but believes teaching innovation is “encouraged by the Tech culture.” He especially appreciates regular faculty presentations on teaching methods sponsored by the MEEM department, as well as “random conversations in the elevator” which help him improve his teaching.

He has found the flipped classroom to be most effective because it lets him “use class time to exercise what students have prepared in advance.” This allows high expectations and accountability, but seems to work well for most students. Parker enjoys the real-time feedback of the more interactive classroom, and finds the higher level of spontaneity exciting, since “every class is different.”

Parker is also credits his department for working on a new undergraduate curriculum, which is “requiring a high level of communication and coordination between numerous instructors” and is “nothing like my previous experiences of developing courses in my closed-door office.” He appreciates the challenges and imperfections in both teaching and joint curricular changes, but believes the changes are “well worth it.”

Gordon will be formally recognized with the 11 other Dean’s Teaching Showcase nominees at a luncheon near the end of spring term. Please join Dean Pennington, Chair Predebon and the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning in thanking Gordon for his outstanding contributions to the teaching mission of the College of Engineering.


Introducting the Dean’s Teaching Showcase

by Mike Meyer, director, William G. Jackson CTL

During each spring semester, the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning works to recognize and reward great teaching that takes place on campus. Last spring, both our Props for Profs and Creative Canvas Course Competition highlighted excellent instruction brought forward by students. Student course evaluations also drive nominations to the Academy of Teaching Excellence and the Distinguished Teaching awards.

This spring, the Jackson Center will work to highlight important contributions to teaching that aren’t noticed—or sometimes appreciated by—students. Many instructors spend hours revising curricula, creating new courses and programs, assessing student work, meeting accreditation requirements or even completing instruction that’s foundational but goes unappreciated until well beyond graduation. To accomplish this, I’ve asked the five academic Deans—Frendewey, Klippel, Pennington, Seely, and Sharik—to take turns recognizing someone each week within their organization doing this kind of teaching work.

The nominees—12 altogether—will have their contributions highlighted in Tech Today each Friday and be invited to an end-of-term luncheon. Our hope is to make these valuable contributions to Michigan Tech’s teaching mission more visible. If you know someone worthy of the Showcase, be sure to tell the appropriate Dean, or let us know at the Center at ctl@mtu.edu or 7-3000.

Our first nominee, next week, will come from the College of Engineering.