Archives—March 2019

Morrison Selected for Dean’s Teaching Showcase

Dean Janet Callahan, College of Engineering, has selected Faith Morrison, Professor of Chemical Engineering and associate dean, for the Dean’s Teaching Showcase.

Callahan chose Morrison not only for her excellent and innovative teaching, but also for extensive historical involvement in academic advising and planning for assessment, especially for Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET).

Callahan’s words, “Professor Morrison has been focused on improving the Chemical Engineering undergraduate program throughout her career.  She has been heavily involved in academic advising, assessment activities, and implementing new pedagogy to enrich her students’ learning experience. Dr. Morrison’s continuous drive to improve student learning is an inspiration to us all.”

In his nominating letter, Chemical Engineering Chair Pradeep Agrawal focused mostly on Morrison’s unique and deeply-considered teaching philosophy. He especially emphasized her willingness to continually be “flexible in developing her teaching approach to match the learning style of a younger generation.”

One such contribution that has clearly been well received is a series of YouTube videos published by Morrison on rheology and momentum transport, several of which have more than 100,000 views.

Morrison believes her fundamental purpose is to teach students how to learn, and that keeping them active in the classroom is important to this end. In her words, she gives students a chance to “attempt solutions and see how their ideas work — I allow them to lead the problem‐solving, since I believe they benefit from following where their ideas lead.”

This does not mean she allows them complete freedom. Morrison carefully chooses activities and scaffolds discussions, taking “great care to identify and organize classroom topics and to keep the conversation going.”

Agrawal also emphasized this active and carefully customized approach, which Morrison applies even in larger classes. “Faith finds ways to engage students regardless of the class size. Her approach encourages all students to achieve a minimum level of proficiency in order to pass her course, but she also provides “stretch” assignments to students aspiring to earn top grades. These “stretch” assignments are harder problems, designed to challenge the top performing students. Her unorthodox approach allows the students to work at a level commensurate with their aspirations, but also ensures a minimum level of preparedness of the subject matter. ”

Finally, Morrison was selected because, according to Agrawal, she “earns the respect of her students, in spite of maintaining a rigorous work load and standards.” Faith carefully balances the ability to “meet students where they are” and setting a high -— but still appropriate — level of challenge. In her words, she has “found that when I set expectations where I need them to be, the students are able to rise to the occasion.”

Morrison will be recognized at an end-of-term luncheon with other showcase members, and is now eligible for one of three new teaching awards to be given by the William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning this summer recognizing introductory or large class teaching, innovative or outside the classroom teaching methods, or work in curriculum and assessment.

Originally posted in Tech Today, March 22 by Michael R. Meyer, Director William G. Jackson CTL


Green Takes Part in Global Environmental Outlook

Sarah Green (Chem) has been in Nairobi, Kenya for the launch of the Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) at the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA).

The GEO report assesses the state and trends of the environment, as well as examining the policies meant to improve it. Green has served as co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the report since its early planning meetings in 2015.
The 744-page GEO report identifies the key drivers of environmental degradation around the world in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other international agreements. It calls for integrated social, economic, and environmental policy actions to address critical issues such as air pollution, biodiversity loss, ocean health, climate change, and land degradation. Human health and well-being are intertwined with the health of the planet through the food, water, and natural systems we depend on.
The report guides governments, non-governmental organizations, and businesses in strategies to design successful policies. GEO also investigate pathways to environmentally sustainable development and synergies among the SDGs.
As co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel, Green, with co-chair Nicholas King (Cape Town, South Africa), guided the process of ensuring scientific integrity of GEO, including selection of authors, outline of topics, and the review process.
Since 2015 Green has attended meetings of authors and government representatives in Bangkok, Geneva, Cairo, Cancun, Guangzhou, Singapore and Nairobi.
She hopes to communicate the findings of GEO to a wide audience.
Posted in Tech Today, March 14, 2019