Liberal Arts Grad Students Win Outstanding Teaching Awards

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Three Liberal Arts graduate students have been recognized with the 2012 Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Awards. The award recipients are Brandy Brown, French; Sarah Salter, English; and April Woolnough, crime, law, and justice.

The Office of the Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School and the Office of the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education co-sponsor the awards to recognize excellence in teaching by graduate students. Recipients must have served as a graduate assistant for at least two semesters within the last two years. The award is named for Harold F. Martin, who earned his doctoral degree in education in 1954 and retired as a director in the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

A graduate assistant in the Department of French and Francophone Studies since 2007, Brown has twice earned the department's Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching Award. She has served as assistant coordinator for French, responsible for developing and implementing course materials, as well as French coordinator for the University's Summer Intensive Language Institute. One nominator applauded her work with a class of more than 80 students: “She managed to elicit both questions and answers from her students — not always an easy thing to do in a huge class. And her own presentations were models of teaching, correct and authoritative, business-like but relaxed, and with an enviable rapport with the students.”

In her literature, rhetoric and composition classes, Salter mixes an array of teaching methods, including writing workshops, small-group activities and close readings. Students consistently have given her high ratings, noting her humor, passion and student-centered approach. “As evidenced in the evaluative comments,” one nominator said, “her students leave her course with a love for literature, a newfound interest in reading and writing, and an appreciation for the supportive and encouraging, but also rigorous and demanding, instruction they received from Ms. Salter.”

The course Woolnough teaches, Research Methods in Criminal Justice, is one that “many of our majors are primed to dislike,” one nominator said. “However, April has received noteworthy praise from both students and her supervising professor for the course for helping students learn substantive and challenging material that they find difficult, while maintaining strong standards of academic performance.” In addition, another nominator said, she helps other section instructors by providing them with her lectures, handouts and activities.

In total, ten Penn State graduate students were recognized with the award. Read more here.

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