Each year the College of Arts and Sciences selects two Distinguished Teaching Fellows and one Distinguished Teaching with Technology Fellow. As members of the Teaching Fellows Committee, the fellows serve as mentors to other faculty, provide advice on the assessment of teaching, are involved in new faculty orientation, and work with the College in myriad ways to support its teaching mission.
Distinguished Teaching Fellows
Jeff Melton, 2016-2019
Jeff Melton is an associate professor of American studies. He teaches a range of courses related to his two broad research areas: humor and travel. He structures each segment of a course around content presentation, individual engagement, and collaborative thinking.
For content presentation, my task is to define, evaluate, and organize material for students. Concise lectures balanced by class discussion form the basic interaction. These discussions respond to reading assignments, introduce related subject matter, and establish theoretical frameworks. For individual engagement, my task is to ensure that students engage actively by participating in the synchronous discussions during lecture and also by writing analytical responses, either in-class as daily work or within online discussions. For collaborative thinking, my task is to encourage students to work with each other to synthesize material and assert connections among their individual efforts by answering questions together in class, by working together to assess course content, and by responding to online discussion posts from peers.
The three levels of coursework are complementary, in that they force repetition and confirmation of ideas. Each encounter provides an opportunity for them to increase their understanding of complexity and interrelatedness among the varied forms of course material.
Ana Corbalán, 2016-2019
Ana Corbalán is an associate professor of Spanish. In the classroom she conveys her passion for teaching Spanish language, literature, and culture to her students, and they, in turn, develop a greater appreciation for learning.
As an experienced teacher I know how important it is to foster students’ motivation. To meet that interest I myself try to excel at creativity. My personal style of teaching brings enthusiasm, passion, culture, and technology into the classroom. I strive to create a relaxed learning setting in which all voices and opinions are equally important. I strongly believe that the learning of a foreign language demands a classroom atmosphere in which students feel comfortable enough to participate actively. I have worked to ensure that my classroom is always shaped by the fundamental goals of the learner-centered approach.
I have found that cooperative-learning activities in class, where students work in pairs or small groups, foster wide-based student participation. Of great importance to me is the encouragement in my students of greater critical thinking skills. I have had much success in guiding students through reading critiques and fostering their developing understanding not only of Spanish but also of critical arguments and logical analysis.
My teaching style and techniques are evolving daily as I learn through professional development, by studying my peers, and most importantly by listening to my students. During my ten years at UA, I have never repeated the content of my graduate seminars. This is an example of how I strive to make the classroom a learning space for my students as well as myself. To me, a large part of teaching is figuring out how people learn. I am passionate about teaching because I am a constant learner myself.
Lisa Davis, 2015-2018
Lisa Davis is an associate professor in the Department of Geography. Her research focuses on fluvial geomorphology, which encompasses how water creates and transforms landscapes and biophysical (cultural, socioeconomic, and ecological) interactions involving rivers.
Each semester she teach one large, 240-student introductory natural science course, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, and one of several smaller upper division courses (e.g., Watershed Dynamics, Geomorphology, Fluvial Geomorphology, or Soil Science).
The main approach I employ in teaching is to create an environment conducive to learning through storytelling, field trips (virtual and real-world), and concept sketches that help to increase student engagement and understanding in the classroom. I try to help students develop test taking and study skills by devoting lecture time to these topics and a level of transparency that allows students to observe and appreciate the rationale and intention behind all course work.
I have extensive experience designing course activities that help students learn through hands-on experience and real-world problem solving and some experience with developing service learning type courses. I teach a writing (W) designated course and one “experiential learning opportunity (ELO)” certified course in my regular course rotation.
Ted Trost, 2015-2018
Ted Trost has been teaching at The University of Alabama since graduate school in 1998. Over the years, he has taught religious studies courses in American religious history, religion and film, apocalypse in popular culture, and biblical literature. In New College, Trost has taught introductory seminars in creativity and the humanities, as well as advanced seminars in songwriting.
One strategy I use in my advanced seminars involves discerning the interests and abilities of each student through wide-ranging in-class conversations at the beginning of the semester. On the basis of these conversations, research and reporting teams are developed and, when this approach succeeds, the whole class becomes a collaborative learning project advanced by the unique perspectives and passions of the various members. In the songwriting class, this strategy serves to identify common musical, technical, and poetic interests and abilities that are then activated in the effort to write and record songs together.
Kathryn Oths, 2014-2017
Kathryn Oths is a professor in the Department of Anthropology, with a specialty in biocultural medical anthropology and foci on treatment choice, traditional and alternative healers, maternal-child health, and food use. She has earned numerous teaching awards, including the National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award (2014), an A&S Distinguished Teaching Fellowship (2014), the Morris Lehman Mayer Award (2005), and the Leadership Board’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award (2005).
Throughout my years at Alabama, I have worked assiduously to develop a teaching style that encourages students to think, discuss openly, and to apply the concepts they learn to novel situations using a problem-based approach.
Primarily, I employ a Socratic method in my upper-division undergraduate and graduate classes, but even in large 100-level lecture courses, I encourage students to respond and to question. In order to do this, I must always project a sense that no questions are stupid as long as they are sincere. I am quick to adopt new learning strategies and technologies, such as clickers in my introductory class, however, only when they show true promise for learning-enhancement, never simply for novelty’s sake.
One of my fortes is teaching qualitative and quantitative skills: Each fall I teach the introductory course for our graduate program, Research Methodology, taken by students of all sub-fields — cultural, biological, linguistic, and archaeology — in which incoming students become competent in the literature search, research design, data collection, basic statistics, SPSS analysis, and grant writing.
A primary goal of mine is to involve both graduate and undergraduate students in first-hand research and publication of results. I have also taught numerous short courses and workshops on research methods, both nationally and internationally.
Distinguished Teaching with Technology Fellows
Lauren Cardon, 2016-2019
Lauren Cardon became an assistant professor (NTRC) in UA’s Department of English in 2013. Her research focuses on American literature and cultural studies, and she teach courses in writing and American literature.
In my classes, I use technology as a tool to ensure students have a public audience for their work and to help them visualize how their work can have relevance outside the classroom. I accomplish these goals by integrating social media into my course design, by creating technological tools to aid students in studying and overall comprehension, and by collaborating with the ADHC to design discipline-specific Digital Humanities projects. Most recently, my Advanced Studies in Writing students and I created the Crimson Fried blog as a platform for their writing and a way to reach out to community members. Our networking efforts through our website aided in our securing media coverage and forging relationships with campus and community organizations. As a professional who recognizes the importance of networking, I implement experiential learning activities that encourage students to expand their own networks, to cultivate a community and online presence that will benefit them when they enter the job market.
Jeremy Bailin, 2015-2018
Jeremy Bailin is an astrophysicist studying galaxy formation — how galaxies like our own Milky Way form and evolve over the 13.8 billion-year history of the universe. He teaches large, 150-student introductory astronomy classes for non-majors, as well as graduate courses on astrophysical processes relating to galaxies and radiation.
Student engagement is a major theme in how I structure all of my courses. For example, I use think-pair-share questions, group in-class lecture-tutorial worksheets, and active discussions. Technology has become an important tool for me in getting students to internalize concepts, by having them see, interact with, and write new computer models of important physical processes, and giving them ways, through infrared sensors, to appreciate aspects of the physical world that they can’t directly experience with their senses.
Patrick Frantom, 2014-2017
Patrick Frantom is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry with a research interest in identifying structure/function relationships that influence the chemical properties of enzymes. He generally teaches upper-level biochemistry lecture and laboratory courses as well as a large-classroom general chemistry.
In all of my courses, I work to align active learning approaches and assessments with class-specific learning outcomes so students have a clear picture of what is expected. In my upper-level courses, the use of active learning to practice higher-level cognitive skills provides a place for students to receive feedback on their initial attempts in a low-stakes environment. This approach is also used in my biochemistry laboratory course in terms of student-led experimental design and achieving improvement in the students’ scientific writing skills.
In the lower-level, and significantly larger, general chemistry course, I use classroom response devices in order to accomplish a similar goal of giving students opportunities to attempt different types of problems and receive immediate feedback on their performance.