Excellence in teaching comes in many forms at Marquette. "What stands out in particular among this year's group is the use of real-world examples that help students learn to address complex, real-world problems," said Provost John Pauly.
Rev. Steven Avella, Ph.D., professor of history, received the Robert and Mary Gettel Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence. Dr. Lisa Koenig, associate professor of general dental sciences; Dr. Erik Ugland, assistant professor of communication; and Dr. Theresa Weynand Tobin, assistant professor of philosophy, were awarded the John P. Raynor, S.J., Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence. The award winners were recognized May 6 at the Père Marquette Dinner.
Avella's use of novels, photo archives and even YouTube videos to "humanize" the narrative of U.S. history engages students in the classroom, according to Dr. James Marten, chair and professor of history. "Steve Avella has a mission as a teacher just as he does as a diocesan priest," said Marten.
"Teaching has been in my blood since I was a high school student," said Avella. "I have always admired the men and women who could tell great stories and make the human experience come alive. I have tried to imitate those great teachers with the students God gives me each semester. I enjoy telling them the stories of our national past, especially our evolving American culture."
Koenig's use of real-world examples in her teaching has involved developing a curriculum that uses modeling, blended instruction, quizzes to prepare for national boards, case studies and one-on-one coaching. "My teaching philosophy encompasses a variety of instructional methods, a commitment to student access to state-of-the-art radiographic technology and a demonstration of professionalism through patient care in the clinic," she said.
Students and former students consistently note that Koenig challenges them to be the very best dentists and humans they can be, according to Pauly. One of her former students, now an established dentist, said Koenig's words "to this day guide me through my work ... her voice resounds during my radiographic diagnosis and patient care."
Ugland's department chair, Dr. Michael Havice, noted that Ugland draws from his training as a lawyer and his own scholarship and uses class discussion and Socratic teaching methods to help students master difficult and sometimes intimidating material.
"The students at Marquette are willing to go anywhere you want to take them," said Ugland. "They are already inclined to live reflective lives and contemplate their place in the world and to make a difference, so they are more willing to engage in the kind of abstract and critical thinking that are hallmarks of a great education. I love to help students strip away all of their assumptions and to see the world through something other than the prism of their own experience."
Using Ignatian pedagogy as her guide, Tobin has developed a variety of creative approaches such as Mindfulness Reading Assignments and applied service learning experiences, according to Pauly.
"I really enjoy being in an institution that not only permits but encourages innovative approaches to teaching that engage the intellectual, emotional and spiritual dimensions of the person," said Tobin. "I strive to provide a classroom environment of trust where students can ask difficult questions about the moral dimensions of human life and can feel safe as we grapple with those questions together. I also aspire to make teaching and learning fun — I love philosophy and aim to share that enthusiasm with students with the hope of inspiring them to love it, too."