On this growing campus where faculty members number about 2,000, we wanted to know why some teachers stand out, win respect and are student favorites, so Inside's Mimi Ko Cruz, Gail Matsunaga, Pamela McLaren and Valerie Orleans picked seven of the university's award-winning professors and asked them.
What is your philosophy on teaching?
FRANK E. CUMMINGS III: "There's a saying: those who can't, tech. My philosophy is, if you can't do it, you have no business in the classroom."
ZVI DREZNER: “I use many examples in my classes. When a concrete example is presented to the students, they grasp the theoretical material much better. In many cases I do it in reverse. I first present a few examples and then discuss the theoretical aspects of the material. I found it to work much better this way.”
JANE V. HALL: “My job is to be an expert in my fields and to convey a passion for the subject that helps students to become engaged in material they often initially resist. I want them to end the semester with the ability to reason rigorously using economic concepts so that they better understand the complex world in which we all live, and so that they maintain that ability over time. All students have potential, and part of my job is to help them unlock that.”
STEVEN N. MURRAY: “In science classes, teaching takes place both inside and outside the classroom. When we are able to take students out in the field — in my case, the ocean — they have an opportunity to actually do science. They design experiments and field studies. They aren’t simply passive listeners. They are engaged in the subject. They are allowed to be participants. That’s when science becomes exciting.”
NANCY L. SEGAL: “I am committed to providing students with a rich learning experience. This extends beyond classroom lectures to the professional activities of the field of psychology. This is accomplished by involving students in research projects, sharing conference experiences with students and crafting assignments that capture the flavor of what faculty and colleagues do, including writing reports, delivering presentations and staying current with new developments.”
RAPHAEL J. SONENSHEIN: “I want students to get some idea of how exciting politics and government can be. That means, first of all, showing them my own excitement. It also means finding in every theoretical element something engaging, humorous, dramatic, and sometimes tragic. But, I also truly enjoy explaining complex phenomena in clear terms. That gives students the sense that the complex can be mastered, and gives them a sense of intellectual power.”
HALLIE YOPP SLOWIK: “My philosophy is constantly evolving. Every semester, I learn something new from students, colleagues and the professional community, which impacts my teaching. Thus, I guess you could say that a part of my philosophy of teaching is that the teacher must always be learning. Several fundamental aspects of my philosophy will never change, however: I believe in students. I believe in the future. I believe that teachers must aim high and have grand goals for themselves and the learners with whom they share their time. I believe that what I do as a teacher matters.”