Truly Innovative Teaching Award Recipients

Mark Walker, 2018
Dr. Mark Walker holds the Richard L. Hedden Chair of Advanced Philosophical Studies in the philosophy department where he teaches courses in ethics, philosophy of science, and epistemology. The Socratic Note Taking technique is designed to have students engage with the assigned readings before class using a question/answer format. In several classroom experiments, it was found that Socratic Note Taking improves student comprehension of reading material by more than a letter grade as compared with quizzing. The technique shows particular promise with the weakest students whose quiz scores improved by nearly 30%.

As one philosophy student put it:
“Socratic Note Taking allowed us to come to into class each day fully prepared, having read and comprehended all our assigned reading. I have adopted it as a useful method in other classes based on my overwhelmingly positive experience in Dr. Walker’s class.”

Application Packet

Gerri McCulloh, 2017
Last fall Dr. Gerri Elise McCulloh taught two technical writing classes. The student response to those classes was so positive, she had more than 100 students on the wait list for her spring class. Because Gerri wants students to help solve problems where they work, play, live, and learn, her classes require research and writing about the NMSU environment. In the past, students chose to explore issues such as bike paths, bike sharing, recycling, campus safety, irrigation, and storm water runoff. Students learn through close reading, discussion, self-assessment and the development of credible sources, including institutional literature from NMSU. To further immerse themselves in the issues, students attend meetings of the environmental student organization, interview university officials, and often work with staff from the City of Las Cruces and Doña Ana County. They also meet with faculty in their home departments to learn to write about problems from the perspective of their disciplines. Finally, to showcase their research, small teams design websites and the whole class hosts a public symposium. The cumulative learning experience is powerful and is best reflected by this student comment. “The concepts have helped me to expand as a thinker, writer, and researcher. I can definitely say that this class will stay with me at a cellular level, if not deeper.”

Application Packet

Alla Kammerdiner, 2016
Alla Kammerdiner wins this award for her work to make student learning a richer, more joyful experience. Since Spring 2014, she has been teaching Engineering Economy using the innovative paradigm of game-based learning. Her course is set up as a semester-long game in which students learn engineering economy by investing and managing their virtual money in teams. Her students say it is “an exciting challenge to analyze data and try to out-maneuver the other teams.”

Application packet

Kefaya Diab, 2015
Kefaya Diab is a PhD student of rhetoric and professional communication in the English Department. She wins this award for her work with students to make short movies to express their identities, to promote ideas and to call for social change. Kefaya has used these movies in composition classes, as well as in ESL and Arabic classes. One of her students refers to her class as “the most joyful and important class any one of us will take in our college years… truly electrifying…”

Application packet

Krista MacDonald, 2014
Krista MacDonald is an assistant professor of communication in the English and Communication Department at Doña Ana Community College, where she also serves as DACC’s online education coordinator. In 2005, she earned her M.A. in communication from the University of New Mexico and in 2013, she earned, from New Mexico State, her online teaching and learning graduate certificate. Krista has taught a variety of introduction to communication courses. In her online classes Krista prioritizes quality course design, the creation of online learning communities, and curricula that supports diverse student populations. Krista’s application for the Truly Award stressed the application of the Quality Matters Rubric guidelines to her online teaching.

Application packet

Kulbhushan Grover, 2013
Kulbhushan Grover received the Teaching Academy Innovation Award for his application of experiential learning in his teaching. The Teaching Academy Advisory board selected Dr. Grover’s application from a very competitive pool. Dr. Grover is an assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. He enjoys teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in sustainable crop production, including organic agriculture. He strives to integrate his research and extension activities into his teaching and to stimulate his students to think critically and apply knowledge gained to solve real-world problems with experiential learning. He will have his article on experiential learning publish in the June 2013 issue of the North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Journal. Dr. Grover recently received the “Educator of the Year Award” from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Organic Program. His other notable teaching innovations include inquiry based learning, collaborative learning and a student-farmer-extension colloquium.

Application packet

Kenneth J. Martin, 2012
Kenneth J. Martin is a Regents Professor of Finance in the College of Business at New Mexico State University. He has been at NMSU since 1995 having previously been on the faculty at the University of Iowa. He received his Ph.D. in finance from Purdue University and both his bachelor’s degree in accounting and MBA degree from Oklahoma State University. Dr. Martin’s research interests include corporate governance and executive compensation. He teaches courses in equity asset valuation, corporate financial management, and financial information technology. He is also the current director of NMSU’s Wetherbe Fund, a student-managed investment fund. He is a frequent participant in Teaching Academy workshops.

Kenneth was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for his work in “flipping the classroom” by having students acquire content knowledge outside of class and work at higher levels in class—where Dr. Martin can help them.

Application packet

Mike Demers, 2011
Mike Demers OTLC (2007, NMSU), Ph.D. (1985, University of Kansas) is associate professor of geography at NMSU. A winner of the 2010 James R. Anderson Medal of Honor in Applied Geography, he is the author of four books including Fundamentals of Geographic Information Systems (4th Ed) (Russian and simple Chinese Translations); GIS Modeling in Raster (Arabic translation), and GIS for Dummies. He is the co-editor of the UCGIS Body of Knowledge, considered the gold standard for GIS curriculum. DeMers’ current NSF funded research deals with the use of persistent virtual environments for online course delivery and research collaboration. Such environments, like Second Life, are 3-D worlds where people interact as digital versions of themselves (avatars). Many universities, including NMSU, have been experimenting with such immersive environments for online education. Research shows they promote collaborative learning communities, provide a sense of “being there”—called social presence—and allow faculty to create shared intellectual landscapes, which essentially are common visual and tactile experiences that help students gain a deeper understanding of course content.

Mike was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for his innovative implementation of learning in a virtual environment.

Application packet

Nancy Chanover, 2010
Nancy Chanover received her Ph.D. in astronomy from New Mexico State University in 1997. She then held a National Research Council Resident Research Associateship at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center before returning to NMSU, where she is now an assistant professor. For her research she studies planetary atmospheres, using visible and near-infrared observations to characterize their vertical structure and chemical properties. She is also involved in the development of astrobiology instrumentation. In her undergraduate classes Nancy emphasizes team-based learning while trying to connect the field of astronomy to the everyday lives of her students.

Nancy was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for her innovative implementation of Team-Based Learning.

Application packet

David Smith, 2009
David E. Smith was born and raised in Colorado and graduated from Colorado College in 1984. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from U.C. Berkeley and has been a part of NMSU’s Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty since 1994. He has extensive experience teaching large general chemistry courses as well as smaller courses for chemistry and biochemistry majors and an occasional distance education offering. Teaching freshmen is his favorite teaching assignment. He finds it rewarding to give first-year students a good start to their NMSU experience while also attracting a few new majors.

David was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for his innovative use of remote response devices, a.k.a. “clickers,” in his general chemistry classes.

Application packet

Laura Madson, 2008
Laura Madson is the Teaching Academy Innovation Award winner for 2006–2007. Laura is an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department. She earned her Ph.D. from Iowa State University in 1996 and joined the NMSU faculty thereafter. She has taught a range of undergraduate classes including Introduction to Psychology, Psychology of Women, Sexual Behavior, Psychological Measurement, Experimental Methods, and The Psychology of Sexual Orientation. She also developed a graduate course in the Teaching of Psychology and serves as the Director of Graduate Studies in Psychology. More importantly, she still thinks teaching is the best job in the world!

Laura was selected for the Teaching Academy Innovation Award by the Advisory Board for her innovative implementation of Team-Based Learning in large classes.

Application packet