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Feb. 4, 2014

2014 Excellence-In-Teaching Citations

David Keating
Department of Communication

College of Communication Arts & Sciences

David Keating’s enthusiasm for student learning and his field of study blend in the classroom to create the perfect teaching environment. As an advocate for cooperative and experiential learning, Keating’s teaching model is built on three components: generating student interest, making course concepts relevant to students, and creating an environment that fosters open communication. In his opinion, his job is to reduce models of human behavior to their simplest and most important parts, help students learn about and retain the information related to these parts, and help students understand out how these ideas can be applied to life experiences.

Keating commitment to attaining excellence in teaching began early in his graduate studies. Before his first teaching assignment, he enrolled in a summer course on teaching fundamentals and volunteered as a teaching assistant—over and above his other assignments—under his department’s most effective instructors in order to learn from them as an apprentice. Each semester, Keating has received increasingly positive teaching evaluations from students and faculty. His professors note that he gives excellent lectures, stimulates enthusiastic student discussions, and creates meaningful assignments. In a word, students and faculty have described him as “phenomenal.”

Keating’s research focuses primarily on how people purposefully influence one another’s behaviors; secondarily, his work considers how people affect one another’s health and well-being. A committed researcher, Keating has already published four journal articles, a book chapter, and an electronic publication; he has also presented a number of conference papers. As a testament to the excellence of his work, the College of Communication Arts and Sciences has awarded him a summer research fellowship each summer that he has been in the program.

Hovig Kouyoumdjian
Department of Chemistry
College of Natural Science

Hovig Kouyoumdjian exemplifies the term teacher-scholar. Applying the same enthusiasm for teaching that he applies to his research work, Kouyoumdjian creatively unites a keen awareness of chemistry education research literature, a desire to experiment with innovative teaching methods, and a first rate knowledge of organic chemistry with compassion for students. The result is an environment in which more than 300 engaged and responsive students are asking and answering questions and, most importantly, truly learning organic chemistry. 

Kouyoumdjian has served as a teaching assistant for organic chemistry, general chemistry, and Lyman Briggs general chemistry. In fall 2012, he won a National Science Foundation fellowship, Future Academic Scholars in Teaching, to introduce new, technology-based learning tools into a lecture course. Specifically, he proposed introducing BeSocratic, a flexible, web-based system that recognizes and responds to free-form student input to help students learn organic reaction mechanisms into the Organic Chemistry class. His proposal was accepted by the Department of Chemistry and declared “a success” the department chair and the class’s lead professor.

Kouyoumdjian’s research examines the role carbohydrate chemistry can play in neuroscience and neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s. His work has been published in leading journals, including a 2013 first author publication in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, which is among the top journals for research at the chemistry-neuroscience interface. He also presented his findings at a recent National Meeting of the American Chemical Society and at the 2012 Annual Midwest Carbohydrate and Glycobiology Symposium, where he won the prize for best poster.

Alexander Montoye
Department of Kinesiology
College of Education

As a calculus tutor during his freshman year at Alma College, Alexander Montoye developed a passion for teaching others. As a graduate student, Montoye has carried this passion into all the classes he has taught—from introductory tennis to applied human anatomy to exercise physiology. Montoye’s students note that his calm personality, patience, and excellent real-world examples make learning accessible and enjoyable.

Montoye has been praised for the excellence and innovation that he brings to the classroom. In one of his laboratory courses, for example, he used his knowledge of scientific inquiry to improve his students’ classroom experiences by devising a study to determine their perceptions, preferences, and performance related to completing work online or in class. He later expanded this study for his Certificate in College Teaching. Additionally, Montoye believes strongly in interactive learning; in his classes, he often recruits students who have excelled in past semesters to help lead small groups. In this way, Montoye has mentored more than 50 students in effective teaching and leadership.

In the spring of 2013, Montoye received the Foundations of Science Fellowship, through which he and other graduate students helped create MSU’s first massive open online course, which was offered in the summer of 2013 and enrolled almost 1,000 students.

Montoye’s research has focused on improving health through enhanced measurement of physical activity and sedentary behavior using wearable accelerometers. He has published work in scientific journals and given presenta- tions around the world; at the 2012 Graduate Academic Conference, he received a top presenter award, earning an opportunity to present his research to MSU’s Board of Trustees.

Evan Perrault
Department of Communication
College of Communication Arts and Sciences

Evan Perrault’s teaching techniques come from skills he learned as a television reporter: to be clear, concise, relevant, and to deliver information with emotion. Both faculty and students have noted the excellence of Perrault’s lecture style, identifying it as organized, thoughtful, and entertaining. Even in large-class lectures, Perrault makes a point to engage students with questions and discussion, using media to illuminate the material under consideration. 

Perrault strongly adheres to the adage that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. He makes it 
a priority to know all his students’ names within the first few weeks of the semester. Additionally, he regularly arrives to class at least 10 minutes early just to converse with his students. Perrault believes this personal connection leads to better classroom discussions, a more open and nonthreatening classroom environment, and, most importantly, greater learning.

Because information physicians provide to prospective patients can affect a person’s level of apprehension in seeking medical help, Perrault’s research explores how doctors can best present themselves through online biographies. His work examines which characteristics patients value in a physician’s biography and what characteristics inform their decision making in selecting a medical professional. Perrault has published five journal articles (two as the first author and one as the solo author) and two book chapters; he has also given many conference papers, two of which received top paper awards at the National Communication Association’s annual national convention.

Rachel Schutte
Department of Political Science
College of Social Science

Rachel Schutte has always been passionate about teaching. As a child, her classrooms were filled with dolls, teddy bears, and a reluctant, frequently bribed, younger brother; but she relished being a part of the learning environment. She experiences that same exhilaration when she walks into a classroom of undergraduate students today, fully acknowledging the responsibility to engage and inspire each student and to foster an inclusive and vibrant intellectual community within her classroom while embracing the opportunity to share the life inherent in learning.

The quality of Schutte’s classroom skills have been described as “incredible.” Keenly aware of the importance of keeping students engaged, Schutte regularly incorporates primary documents in her presentations and provides material at the beginning of a class that relates these documents to a current political or judicial event. As a result, classroom discussions are lively and engaged, with students thinking critically from the moment they walk into her classroom. 

Schutte has taught several different courses during her graduate tenure, including Introduction to Political Science and the American Judicial Process. Because of her teaching successes, she was invited by her department to help create an online introductory course. Her input on content, lectures, and quizzes not only helped ensure that the course remained rigorous in its new format but also contributed significantly to its ongoing success.

Schutte’s research focuses the behavior of Supreme Court justices. Her faculty mentors note that she asks important research questions and possesses the skills, determination, and work ethic to answer them. A recipient of a National Science Foundation grant, Schutte has co-authored work published in Political Research Quarterly and has presented papers at numerous academic conferences.

Kimbo Yee
Department of Kinesiology
College of Education

Many of Kimbo Yee’s students rave about the effectiveness of his teaching, noting both the serious regard for his subject that he brings to the classroom as well as the entertaining qualities that imbue his presentations and make them intellectually and personally accessible. This combination of respect for the subject matter and concern for his students’ ability to learn allows Yee to engage his students on serious subjects in a very down-to-earth way.

Because Yee was involved in research projects throughout his own undergraduate education from which he benefitted significantly, he regularly encourages undergraduate students to pursue research endeavors, believing that they can be an important part of their educational experience. His mentoring not only includes assisting students directly with their research but also encouraging them to participate in national and regional professional presentations of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Yee’s research focuses on the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity in high-risk populations. In keeping with his commitment to community service, he has participated in numerous intervention programs related to pediatric obesity in schools, clinics, hospitals and community wellness centers across the state of Michigan. He has presented his research findings at conferences and meetings of the American College of Sports Medicine, the Obesity Society and the North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine. He has published several abstracts and four articles in peer-reviewed journals.