Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Students cite their professors for going the extra mile

Four faculty members were recently honored at the second annual Faculty Recognition luncheon sponsored by the office of academic support services and the Peer Mentors Student Leadership Program.

Natalie Foster, associate professor of chemistry; Rebecca S. Miller, a professor of practice in the department of chemistry; William A. Best, a professor of practice in the department of electrical and computer engineering; and Chitra S. Nayar, a lecturer in the department of management, earned kudos.

The four professors sat down for lunch in the Asa Packer Dining Room with the students who nominated them.

“Foster, Miller, Best and Nayar were nominated for their commitment to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) said Cheryl Ashcroft, assistant dean of students for academic support services for students with disabilities.

UDL, Ashcroft said, uses an intentional, multi-faceted approach to teaching in an effort to engage every student’s learning style.

“All four of these professors, in addition to other Lehigh faculty, realize there are multiple ways to test a student’s knowledge,” Ashcroft said. “We think it’s important to recognize some of the professors who are going above and beyond in their efforts to educate every student.”

UDL, which mirrors the universal design movement in architecture and product development, uses technology’s power and flexibility to make education more inclusive and effective, while reducing the need for specialized services, such as the need to hire note takers in class for hearing impaired students.

“It’s always an honor to be acknowledged and we thank the students,” said Foster. ”We’re really not doing anything special for any one group—we’re just enjoying the ability to experiment with the modern technology available here at Lehigh to present a challenging course in an environment that is flexible, usable and effective for everyone. It’s nice to know that some of the experiments are working.”

Blackboard widens the window on learning

This year’s honorees were recognized for utilizing Blackboard to post lecture notes and practice exams and for employing a variety of ways, including projects, labs, quizzes and papers, to test students’ knowledge of subject matter.

“Prof. Miller and Prof. Foster provided detailed lecture notes on Blackboard,” said Siri Amster-Olszewski ’10, who nominated both. “Prof. Foster did problems step by step on the board, which I liked because it helped me see the process that I had to go through. In addition, she made use of the online tools that came with the textbook, which put some chemical concepts in a moving, visual form that I think was very helpful. It can be difficult to visualize how electrons move if you’ve never encountered it before.”

Zach Hyder ’12 said Foster “helped me understand chemistry by providing power points online before each class. She brought energy and substance into the classroom. She thoroughly explained the information with great examples and different teaching styles that everyone could connect to.”

A student who nominated Best described him as “the most energetic professor I’ve ever had at 8:10 in the morning. I was always up for that class because he was so good at explaining the concepts. Whenever I had trouble, he was very helpful one-on-one. He always drew pictures, which helped me understand.”

Margaux Francois ’11 said Nayar “was easy to approach and will always take the time to explain something even if it’s not during her office hours. She is very patient and will help you until you really understand the material. 

“She has everything up on Blackboard before class starts, such as notes and supplementary material, to help you understand everything better. She is very fair and understanding about extra time and makes sure that everything works out according to regulations no matter what her schedule. She is awesome.”

The faculty members honored at last year’s Faculty Recognition luncheon were Anthony O’Brien, professor of economics; Keith Schray, professor of chemistry; and Sibel Pamukcu, professor of civil and environmental engineering.


Story by Bill Doherty

Posted on Friday, December 04, 2009

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