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Jan. 28, 2015

2015 Excellence-in-Teaching Citations

Kalli Decker
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
College of Social Science

Kalli Decker is strongly committed to creating an engaging, interactive and supportive classroom environment. She is excited to craft learning opportunities and invests time in making her classes engaging. Her pedagogical approach includes experiential and discussion-based learning as well as awareness of her students’ learning styles.

Decker has served as both a teaching assistant and instructor in HDFS 225: Lifespan Human Development in the Family. As an assistant, she stood out for incorporating creative and effective teaching activities to help students master the material. As the main instructor, she was noted for her fine lectures and her active involvement with students in discussions and in helping them master a research-evaluation assignment. Decker uses examples from her research and experiences as an early childhood teacher to help students make meaningful connections between class content and real-world situations.

Decker’s primary research interests relate to parent-child communication for dyads that include children with language delays or disabilities, and how early intervention influences this process. She has also begun research related to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and is conducting a SoTL project related to students’ career interests, using tests to measure career decisiveness, self-efficacy, and attitudes about civic engagement as related to the service-learning component of a course she teaches. It is her goal to help students find a more specific interest and path within the field of human development and family studies so that they are better prepared to start a career or begin graduate school.

Outside of the classroom Decker takes on the role of a teacher-mentor. She is currently mentoring a team of five undergraduates through the research process to learn valuable skills related to the collection, coding and management of data.

Samantha Deere
Department of Kinesiology
College of Education

Samantha Deere’s students describe her as knowledgeable, caring, engaging and enthusiastic. In the words of one student, she is “Super Woman.” Deere has distinguished herself in multiple areas of academia, including teaching, research and service. She strives to help students develop not only intellectually, but in all aspects of life.

Deere has taught numerous courses in the Department of Kinesiology and has excelled in both lab and lecture settings. She utilizes multiple methods of classroom teaching and prides herself on molding teaching strategies to fit students’ needs. She has dedicated herself to creating a fun and inviting classroom environment where students are comfortable developing ideas and challenging material.

Even as a scholar, Deere focuses on the success of students. Her research focuses on the relationship between participation in physical activity and college student academic success. This past spring, she published a paper in “Recreational Sports Journal,” indicating that MSU students with fitness center memberships achieved higher grades and were more likely to make greater progress toward graduation than nonmembers. Her findings were also presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting. In addition, she is conducting research to determine the effectiveness of dormitory fitness centers on student health, satisfaction and retention. She has presented her research at state, regional and national meetings, where it has sparked conversation regarding the importance of campus recreation and physical activity.

Katie Manthey
Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures
College of Arts and Letters

Katie Manthey is the rare teacher who understands that, beyond delivery of disciplinary content, the most important thing to understand about teaching and learning is the learners themselves. In the classroom, Manthey does something much more difficult than teaching – she creates opportunities for learning, which has made substantial contributions to teaching writing to first-year writing students at MSU.

Manthey’s excellence as a teacher comes not only from her powerful ethic of care and responsibility to her students, but also her innovative creation of learning environments. She has designed courses in one-on-one, group, face-to-face, hybrid and virtual environments; she is ingenious in her ability to imagine the affordances of these environments for learning. She understands her students immediate and future needs as well as what resources are available for learning. This kind of pedagogy requires more than content delivery; it requires persistent analysis, reassessment, adaptation, innovation and intervention.

Manthey’s research is an inquiry into rhetorical practices, specifically, in cultural and material rhetoric. Her dissertation research examines bodies as rhetorical objects. She focuses in particular on the visibility of body image activists, bloggers who are attempting revise public notions of how women’s bodies should be regarded. Her data for this project constitutes blogs and interviews with prominent bloggers who practice what Ms. Manthey refers to as “visibility politics.”

Manthey’s professional activities include presentations at seven international and national top-tier conferences. She also has two papers under review and three forthcoming, including a special issue of “Across the Disciplines,” which she guest-edited.

Jessica Wallace
Department of Kinesiology
College of Education

Jessica Wallace is an approachable teacher who relates well to students and teaches with compassion and inclusiveness, helping them to engage fully in their learning.

As an educator for the Athletic Training Education Program, she teaches with three overlying themes to help students establish academic success. First, that all students have the potential to succeed and that it is her duty to help them establish an educational foundation for life. Second, that it is her responsibility to be an advocate for her students, both in the academic classroom and during their clinical education. The third theme is that learning is not only a short-term, four-year process, but also a life-long activity. Her role as an educator is to teach life-long learning skills.

Building on these themes, Wallace has injected enthusiasm, relevance and expectations of high performance into the Athletic Training curriculum. She has experience teaching both face-to-face and online classes. She uses technology to provide a rich visual experience by incorporating presentations and study aides with numerous images of anatomical structures, x-rays, MR images and videos and pictures of individuals performing athletic training special tests on individual body parts (e.g., shoulder, knee). One outcome of Wallace’s excellent teaching within the athletic training program is a high passing rate on the Board of Certification examination and a strong national reputation, both of which create opportunities for MSU graduates.

Wallace’s research in adolescent sport-related concussion is an ongoing commitment to understanding concussion and reporting behaviors of high school athletes. She works diligently with several high schools within Lansing and Detroit and has received grant funding to provide concussion education to urban schools that do not have athletic trainers.

Emily Weigel
Department of Zoology
College of Natural Science

Known for her enthusiasm and encouragement in the classroom, Emily Weigel is dedicated to the education of her students. As a Preparing Future Faculty for the Assessment of Student Learning fellow and former Future Academic Scholars in Teaching fellow, Weigel brings rigor into the classroom through research-supported class design and student assessment.

Weigel has taught in varied undergraduate courses, from running labs in introductory biology courses and leading literature discussions with advanced undergraduates to presenting guest lectures and mentoring undergraduate lab research assistants. She has helped her students learn content, think critically, work collaboratively and communicate clearly, all while bringing infectious excitement and energy to the process. One of her many talents lies in helping students connect to the material through engaging examples visible in daily life.

Weigel is also a superb mentor. On several occasions, she has taken undergraduates to conferences, sparking their enthusiasm for research. This past spring, she obtained funding to take three students to a regional meeting where they presented posters, one of whom won the best undergraduate poster prize. Every undergraduate who has worked directly with her has gone on to graduate or professional school, and many have earned awards and scholarships.

Weigel’s research focuses on sexual selection and behavioral evolution. She investigates how the environment affects behavior, which in turn can affect the maintenance of sympatric species. This research has a number of applications, including the conservation of endangered fish species. Since beginning graduate school, Weigel has published and presented her research on more than 40 occasions at science and education meetings. Her excellent work has been recognized with AT&T Faculty–Staff Awards in Instructional Technology, the Council of Graduate Students Disciplinary Leadership Award and the College of Natural Science Tracy A. Hammer Graduate Student Award for Professional Development. Most recently, Weigel was awarded a grant by Society for the Study of Evolution to develop human evolution lessons for high school students nationwide.

Cameron Whitley
Department of Sociology
College of Social Science

Students describe Cameron Whitley’s teaching as “innovative,” “creative” and “engaging,” but it is the personal connection he makes with them that sets him apart as a teacher. Whitley relates to students as a mentor, modeling the behaviors he wants to see in them in and outside of the classroom. In doing this, he pushes them to connect with their communities in hope that what they learn in his classroom will lead to a life of civic engagement.

Whitley has been a teaching assistant for 10 sections and has sole-taught three undergraduate classes. His presentations provide a clear path through complex materials, allowing students to master the material. His examples provide links to everyday matters to connect learning to common experiences.

In the first course Whitley taught, students were encouraged to find images for topics relevant to the course. He then used these images to discuss sociological concepts from students’ perspectives. This innovative technique received widespread praise among sociologists and he published his methodology and findings in the American Sociological Association’s peer-reviewed journal “Teaching Sociology.” Whitley’s excellence in teaching has been honored with a Council of Graduate Students Leadership Award in 2012; a Future Academic Scholars in Teaching Fellowship in 2012 and 2013; and the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities Teaching Fellowship in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Since beginning graduate school, Whitley has published six journal articles, nine book chapters, and an internationally acclaimed, award-winning book. His articles have been published in such peer-reviewed journals as “Teaching Sociology,” “Sociological Perspectives,” and “American Emergency Medicine.”