Each year the College of Arts and Sciences will recognize two Distinguished Teaching Fellows and one Distinguished Teaching with Technology Fellow during the first A&S faculty meeting of the fall semester. As members of the Arts and Sciences Teaching Fellows Committee, the Fellows will form a teaching advisory board, serve as mentors for other faculty members, provide advice on the assessment of teaching, participate in new faculty orientation, and work with the College in other ways to improve its overall teaching mission.
Learn more about the Distinguished Teaching Fellowship and nomination process.
Distinguished Teaching Fellow, 2019-2021
Lawrence M. Jackson is the Associate Chair & Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Alabama where he teaches Jazz, Contemporary, Choreography and Dance History. His scholarly interests are centered on/around the sociology of dance and in the relationship which dance can develop with other disciplines. He is particularly interested in the sociological ramifications placed on the dance community in regard to global race relations.
My pedagogical approaches are interconnected with my artistic/theoretical research. I strive to regularly adapt my perspective in order to see, support, and provoke students towards integrated learning. My desire is that students engage with, diverge from, and surpass what I offer. Whether I am teaching a movement-centered course, an interdisciplinary course or a lecture/discussion course I believe in the synthesis of embodied and scholarly material. I encourage self-motivated and peer-to-peer learning. Students ask questions, set goals, reflect on experiences, give verbal, kinesthetic, written feedback to peers, and work with one another to find communicative co-operation. This atmosphere encourages students’ willingness to engage risk and difficulty. I support students in becoming responsible for their own learning, which promotes rigorous investigation toward alert and current artistry. Offering individualized mentorship, while continuing to learn and question as I teach.
A strong work ethic is fundamental to my way of being, and consequently, to my way of teaching. I bring all of my dance expertise and life experience into the classroom. I maintain an ardent devotion to forwarding the field of dance through empowering students to be innovative, resilient, and participatory people and artists.
Distinguished Teaching Fellow, 2019-2021
Allen Linken is a clinical assistant professor in the Political Science Department. His research focuses on civil-military relations, and specifically examining and understanding the civil-military gap, which is, broadly, the relationship between civil society as a whole and the military, and the space between understandings of each group. Alongside his research, Dr. Linken teaches a number of courses in the legal milieu, including constitutional law, American judicial process, a course designed to prepare students for the rigors of law school, and a course that examines the role and relationship of law to society. Dr. Linken also coaches and advises the University’s competitive Mock Trial team and teaches courses on improving trial advocacy.
It is my goal to establish a learning environment that is both accessible and challenging, where students have the opportunity to sharpen their critical thinking skills in the process of experiencing and mastering the course material. Three main efforts, in concert, are used to achieve this goal:
- First, I ask that students take complex, and often politically charged, concepts and interact with them.
- Working in tandem with interacting with complex concepts is the creation of a learning environment that is conducive to critical thinking.
- The last line of effort is to be responsive to my students. This core idea manifests itself in multiple ways. It means being available to them to discuss questions or concerns, as teaching – and learning – occurs both in the classroom and outside of it
The classroom is a wonderful opportunity to provide an environment where the student has an experience that excites them, challenges them intellectually, strengthens their critical thinking and ethical understanding, widens the scope of dialogue in themselves and with their peers, and allows them to have a deeper connection to the material and the world that such material is drawn from, and it is my privilege and great joy to work to create that environment.
Distinguished Teaching with Technology Fellow, 2019-2021
Distinguished Teaching with Technology Fellow, 2018-2021
Michael J. Altman is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies. His areas of research are American religious history, colonialism, theory and method in the study of religion, and Asian religions in American culture. Trained in the field of American religious cultures, he is interested in the ways religion is constructed through difference, conflict, and contact. Along with his research, Dr. Altman teaches a range of classes in the department from REL 130: Religion, Politics, and Law to REL 450: Religion and Power in Colonial India. His courses are notable for their use of digital instructional methods and assessments. He is also the producer and host of the REL Department podcast, Study Religion and manages the various REL Department social media accounts.
My teaching philosophy is to use the topic or content of every course as a means for teaching students critical thinking and communication skills. While every course has specific terms, ideas, history, or knowledge that students need to learn, the larger goal of my courses is not the consumption of this content but using that content to write, read, ask questions, and analyze. I approach my teaching with this emphasis on skills because I believe it prepares students for life after graduation, when they will need to be able to learn quickly, master new information, and communicate clearly. My emphasis on teaching skills means that I do not see working with technology in the classroom as an extra add-on on top of the “real work” in the classroom. Rather, as should be clear, keeping abreast of new social media and communication tools, and integrating them into courses alongside writing essays and reading books, is simply what I consider the work of a professor to be. Aiming for the critical and self-conscious use of technology and communicative tools—whether that is the alphabet or computer code— is the goal for all of my classes.
Distinguished Teaching Fellow, 2018-2021
Bryan Koronkiewicz is and Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics. As the Spanish Language Program Director, he teaches a graduate teaching methods course every year. His other courses run the gamut from first-year language courses to graduate-level linguistics courses. His specific course topics center on bilingualism, including code-switching and language acquisition, as well as syntax.
My approach to teaching directly mirrors my understanding of language—learning is doing. As such, I always try to enhance learning opportunities by taking concepts from class and making them concrete through creative, experiential activities. Many topics within the world of language and linguistics are not immediately tangible to students, so thespecific application of the concepts can be crucial. For example, within my teaching methods course, an activity I have implemented entails fully immersing students in an introduction to Basque (an isolate language from northern Spain). The specific goal of the activity is to have them learn basic vocabulary items such as colors and numbers, as well as basic sentence structure, allowing them to eventually create novel sentences entirely in the target language—a language they have never been exposed to before. The broader consequence of such an activity is to provide a solid understanding of what it means to experience communicative language teaching in action. The intangible concepts of implicit language learning are made real in front of their eyes.
Distinguished Teaching Fellow, 2018-2021
John Miller is assistant professor (NTRC) in UA’s New College Program, where students design Interdisciplinary Studies majors with assistance from faculty advisors. Miller’s research areas include Legal Studies and Interdisciplinary Education. He teaches courses on American Law, Creativity, and the Humanities in which he encourages students to leverage their own interests and experiences to gain subject matter mastery.
What we do in the classroom affects the world into which students graduate. Increasingly I see accounts, like the recent article in Psychology Today, decrying a general decline in problem-solving skills, attributed by many to high-stakes testing. And on the more scholarly side, champions of Liberal Arts education like Martha Nussbaum warn against skills-based educations turning graduates into “useful profit-makers with obtuse imaginations” unable to critique authority.* Between these two narratives, I see the debt contemporary education owes pioneers of democratic, engaged teaching like John Dewey and Paulo Freire. As a consequence, I frame my duty to students not just as imparting the best information I can, but also as equipping those students to see how actively participating in their educations empowers them.
*Nussbaum, Martha. “Political Soul-making and the Imminent Demise of Liberal Education.” Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 37.2, (2006): 301-313.
Distinguished Teaching Fellow, 2017-2020
Carol Duffy is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. She is a virologist whose research focuses on elucidating the molecular biology of herpesvirus replication as well as understanding the roles herpesviruses play in chronic illnesses. Duffy teaches courses in virology and molecular biology where she shares her passion for the intricate cellular mechanisms that underlie health and disease.
I believe the first order of business in the classroom is to engage the students. Learning can depend as much on the attitudes of the students as on the performance of the teacher. Therefore, it is important to get students actively involved in their own learning and get them to give their best learning effort. To engage students I intersperse humor, storytelling, query, and active and collaborative learning activities throughout my lectures. I believe the next order of business in teaching is to convey the fundamental content of the course in a way that mentally reaches the maximum number of students. Different students learn in different ways. Using a variety of teaching methods allows me to reach many of the different learning styles at the same time. Finally, I believe the most rewarding order of business in teaching is to help students develop higher order thinking skills and become creative, analytical, actively intelligent people. My teaching philosophy is founded in my belief that helping students develop higher-order thinking skills isn’t just the most rewarding part of my job, it is the most important part of my job. I work hard to design group and individual assignments that not only ensure my students understand the material covered, but push them to integrate the smaller pieces of the puzzle into a larger, comprehensive picture and then use those integrative skills for critical evaluation and problem-solving.
Distinguished Teaching Fellow, 2017-2020
Erik Peterson is an assistant professor in the Department of History. He teaches a broad range of courses, including History of Science, Epidemics! A History of Medicine, A Global History of Gaming, and The Darwinian Revolution. His research focuses on the transatlantic history of science, eugenics and social Darwinism, the scientific concept of race, science and popular culture, and biology education.
Two young fish — undergraduates — were on their way to class one morning when an old professor swam by in the other direction. “How’s the water, boys?” the professor fish asked. “Fine, Dr. Mackerel,” they said, smiling politely at the professor as they continued. Once they were safely out of earshot, one turned to the other, troubled, “Uh, dude, what’s water…?” [based on a joke told by David Foster Wallace in 2005] Our students are swimming in a medium that, by and large, they do not recognize. For a fish, water is as banal as it is vital. As I see it, a good portion of my job—that is, if “Ph.D.” still stands for a teacher who is a friend of wisdom—is to help them actually consider that basic, unquestioned, ba A disturbingly large portion of what we all take for granted turns out to be off somehow—stories about things that never happened, stories that make us feel like we are something that we are not. And those myths that we collectively tell ourselves, stories about famous people in the past, for instance, ripple out to homes and voting booths and statehouses, to policy decisions that impact people in the present and future. The past isn’t past because the past is also us. So as a historian, teaching is the way to unmask what is hidden in plain sight. It is the wonderful and terrible task that we at the university have to profess: “This is water… this is water.” And if we don’t point it out, no one else will.
Distinguished Teaching with Technology Fellow, 2017-2020
Marco Bonizzoni is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. His research interests straddle the classical field of organic and analytical chemistry and are focused on the study and use of non-covalent interactions, the weak forces responsible for a number of macroscopic phenomena such as protein folding and molecular recognition. At the undergraduate level, he generally teaches large-enrollment lecture and laboratory courses in organic chemistry.
Teaching is a marvelous privilege to me. However, I am also aware of the important responsibilities I have towards both my students and the subject that I am teaching. I owe my students respect, planning, preparation, and delivery, as well as my time and attention to address their questions and problems in and out of the classroom. I am also aware of the responsibility towards the subject being taught; to present it rigorously, yet to make it clear and comprehensible and, perhaps most importantly, to highlight its relevance to everyday life. The latter aspect is very important to me in teaching chemistry, particularly at the introductory level, and to students that, for the most part, will not be chemists by profession. I hope to contribute positively to providing for the students’ general education in science, in order for them to become knowledgeable and successful members of society as they leave our campus. My goal as an instructor is to strike a balance between communicating enthusiasm for the subject being taught and laying a foundation of knowledge for the students to build upon. Establishing a rapport with my students is critical to this goal, but it is also challenging in the large classes I usually teach. I have been learning to use technology to my advantage, to reach my students more effectively. Lecture delivery, capture, and dissemination of lecture notes, the use of online electronic homework, and effective use of a learning management system, all have contributed to improving student learning.