FY 2019-2020

  • September 2019: Dr. Sue Anne Chew

    Dr. Sue Anne Chew

    Name: Dr. Sue Anne Chew

    Department: Health & Biomedical Sciences

    College: Health Professions

     

     

    Can you share a brief paragraph about your current role and past accomplishments?  

    I am currently an Assistant Professor who teaches in the BS in Biomedical Sciences (BMED program) and the Program Director of the Biomedical Freshman Research Initiative (BFRI) in the Department of Health and Biomedical Sciences. When I started in UTB in 2013, I was given the great opportunity of designing and implementing the BFRI program to provide more opportunities for students to be exposed to and participate in research early on and to retain them in the science pipeline at a lower cost and manpower. I primarily teach the first module of BMED introductory courses (Introductory Medical Biochemistry and Introductory Molecular Biology), Advanced Cell Biology and the first two BFRI courses (Research Methods and Research Techniques), while overseeing the whole program. I was one of the 2019 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award (ROTA) recipient.

     

    Why is teaching important to you?  

    The role of a teacher is vital as it contributes to developing future leaders in our communities and thus, this is why teaching is very important to me. By being a teacher, I have the opportunity to not only help students to be successful academically, but also develop into individuals who have integrity and resilience and are respectful of others. Diversity in the scientific workforce is vital to the nation in making progress in scientific discovery and innovation. I am motivated to teach so that I can contribute to training these future scientists.

     

    What are your beliefs toward teaching and learning?  

    As a teacher, I am a big advocate of experiential learning as a tool for students to reinforce what they have learned in their courses. Thus, I try to find ways to provide students these opportunities through undergraduate research. These experiential learning opportunities allow students to learn science by hands-on experimentation, exploration and discovery. I have also try to do this by implementing service learning activities where students participate in teaching children science to help reinforce their understanding of what they have learned in my courses, while serving the community.

     

    As a teacher, I belief that to be an effective instructor, it is critical that we understand our learners including their needs, learning method, challenges/barriers and background and develop a student-centered curriculum and program. Having taught in UTRGV for a few years now has allowed me to learn and understand the population of students in our BMED program. However, this is a continuous learning process and there is so much more for me to learn. I value and see the importance of receiving training on how to mentor and help minority students as interacting with them is not enough. Often, faculty like myself are from a different ethnicity or country than our students, and thus, may not be aware of the needs of our students and knowing how to help them. As faculty I often not only play a role of providing academic advice, but also guidance to navigate students’ transition and thus, I need to be prepared to provide assistance to these students.

     

    What type of learning environment do you try to create in your classroom?  

    As a teacher, I try to create a supportive learning environment in my classroom but at the same time create a learning environment that will allow them to grow. My goal is to be humble, empathetic and supportive to the students, however, at the same time, I believe that it is important to challenge and stretch the students so that they can learn to be resilient and have rigor in what they do. I believe that as an instructor or research mentor, it is important for me to be clear on the expectations and goals that I have for my students, however, it is also important that I provide students with the information, support and guidance that is needed to achieve them.

     

    What is your favorite teaching strategy to foster student learning?  

    As a teacher, I believe that it is crucial for students to not only understand the fundamentals and facts but to be able to apply their knowledge to problems that will arise in their future careers. Thus, to foster student learning, my favorite teaching strategy in my courses for the BMED program is the utilization of the flipped classroom pedagogy. The students learn the materials before class through assigned readings and videos. This is further reinforced in class with a mini-lecture followed by a team-based learning (TBL) activity on a problem (problem-based learning) as well as through project-based learning where the students learn to apply the knowledge they have learned. Students are not only taught through didactic lectures, but are challenged, through problems, to think critically and to apply the knowledge and tools they learned from the course to solve problems that may arise in their future careers. The students have to learn how to prepare independently before class using the reading and video assignments provided to them on Blackboard and be ready to take an individual and team readiness assessment test/quiz at the beginning of class. Students are trained to become independent learners, learn how to apply their knowledge and develop time management, critical thinking and teamwork skills which are vital to their success as an undergraduate student and for their future careers.

     

    What advice do you have for new UTRGV faculty members regarding teaching?  

    My advice would be to consider evaluating your teaching strategies, pedagogies and activities and disseminating the lesson learned from them. We often implement new activities or programs to teach and support our students but often fail to evaluate if they are effective. I would also advice new UTRGV faculty members to remember the importance of admitting our mistakes and weaknesses and teach the students that we are all constantly learning and trying to be better, like them. We need to remember to be fair and just to our students and treat them as how we would want to be treated and respected ourselves. As a faculty, we at times assume that students should know or be able to do something as we may have been able to at their age or level. However, we need to understand that not every student may not have the same upbringing, background or support systems we had and thus, we need to be understanding and empathetic but at the same time not lowering the bar.

  • October 2019: Samantha Ramirez

    Samantha Ramirez

    Name: Samantha Ramirez

    Department: Mechanical Engineering 

    College: Engineering and Computer Science

     

    I currently am the undergraduate program coordinator and a lecturer for the Department of Mechanical Engineering. I currently teach two junior-level courses in our degree plan but have also taught the department’s stand-alone teaching laboratories. While teaching the laboratories, I developed evaluation rubrics that were implemented across the BSME curriculum and coordinated course content for all the labs. Just this past year, I was awarded the Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching Non-Tenure Track.

     

    Why is teaching important to you?  

    As an instructor, I am teaching young adults some of the tools they need to be successful in their field of study. For me, this all begins in a classroom where students are learning the fundamental concepts necessary for engineering. I love being in my classroom with my students and teaching them new, fun, and wonderful concepts that they will be able to utilize in their futures.

     

    What are your beliefs toward teaching and learning?  

    I have found that compassion is the key part of teaching. Without compassion, I would not be the instructor that I am today. I always try to remember my feelings as a student and use my experiences to show my students that I do care. I frequently have students who come by to keep me updated on how they are doing even though they are no longer in my courses.

     

    What type of learning environment do you try to create in your classroom?  

    When I get to class, I always have a smile on my face and have an abundance of energy for class time. I try to show my passion for what I teach and how much I love what I do. Along those same lines, I try to create an inviting environment where students are able to apply concepts learned to solve complex engineering problems and are not afraid to ask questions. I try to hold my students to a high level of expectation while providing them the tools they need to be successful both in and out of my classroom.

     

    What is your favorite teaching strategy to foster student learning?  

    I learned early on in my career teaching to try to effectively communicate information. Sometimes this would require explaining concepts in multiple ways or trying to relate the concepts to something my students can relate to. In one of my classes, I take props with me to demonstrate certain topics.

  • November 2019 : Dr. Sandra Musanti

    Dr. Sandra Musanti

    Name: Dr. Sandra I. Musanti

    Department: Bilingual & Literacy Studies

    College: Education & P-16 Integration

     

    Can you share a brief paragraph about your current role and past accomplishments?  

    I am currently an associate professor in the Department of Bilingual and Literacy Studies in the College of Education and P-16 Integration. I teach in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Elementary Education with Bilingual Education specialization, and I also teach master and doctoral level courses. In 2016, I was invited by our Dean to lead the implementation of STEP UP program, a partnership between UTRGV College of Education and HCISD. That was a great opportunity to engage in an innovative teacher preparation program. My charge was to implement the project as a faculty liaison working in collaboration with Harlingen CISD and a designated school to implement a year-long clinically rich field-embedded professional education model for prospective teachers. A central goal of this program is to bridge the gap between teacher preparation and the first years of teaching and prepare graduates with the skills and confidence of second year teachers. This past year, I was awarded the UTRGV Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching Tenure-Tenure-Track faculty members.

     

    Why is teaching important to you?  

    “What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves” (Horton & Freire, 1990). As a teacher educator, I aspire to make possible for student teachers to embrace their bilingual and bicultural selves with pride and hope. I also aspire to inspire my students to engage in learning from and with their bilingual students. I believe teachers play a crucial role in a democratic society. I see education as the path for equity and social justice. We must strive to prepare teachers for roles as professionals, intellectuals, and advocates in a multicultural and multilingual society. I am committed to prepare bilingual teachers who are highly qualified advocates of bi/multilingual and bi/multicultural students.

     

    What are your beliefs toward teaching and learning?  

    As a teacher educator I strive to model an approach to teaching that embodies two principles. First, understanding learning as product of interaction with the world and others, therefore the importance of creating spaces for engaging in cooperative and experiential learning. Second, understanding and modeling effective teaching, that is teaching that is student centered, embracing students’ differences, culture, and language as assets and resources for learning.

     

    What type of learning environment do you try to create in your classroom?  

    I aim at providing opportunities for classroom dialogue, centering our personal experiences as a legitimate lens for understanding course content, to critically examine schooling contexts and educational opportunity, and to interrogate our (mis)understandings that may influence the ways in which we see the communities we serve. I also focus on fostering in my students a strong foundational knowledge of their field and an understanding of the social and political influences on their work. In the field of bilingual education, this means that we need teachers who are able to understand and leverage students’ cultural and linguistic repertoire, who can design instruction that challenges students to learn, and who afford students opportunities to see themselves as the capable learners they are.

     

    What is your favorite teaching strategy to foster student learning?  

    In my teacher preparation courses in the bilingual program, I designed a set of assignments entitled, “approximations to practice.”  I create situations within my classes where students apply theories and concepts to plan and demonstrate different strategies to teach bilingual learners. A big piece of practicing is receiving and giving feedback to others. After and during practicing, students receive feedback from me and from their peers. I have designed rubrics that we use to accomplish that in a more structured and focused way. I also keep in mind it is equally important that student-teachers have meaningful opportunities to reflect on their practice through self-evaluations, specifically on how their lessons attend to cultural and language diversity. Another strategy I use is the integration of Mixed Reality Simulations. For instance, I have designed a teaching scenario where student teachers can practice in Spanish how to design and implement an activity to activate background knowledge while leveraging students’ bilingualism. This approach also allows for real time feedback as the instructor or the student can pause the simulation at any point to receive support and adjust the practice. After the experience, they can use different theoretical lenses to reflect on the different dimensions of practice. 

     

    What advice do you have for new UTRGV faculty members regarding teaching?  

    My advice would be not to be afraid of getting out of the comfort zone and trying out new ways, but especially, learning from our students, what they bring to classroom in terms of experiences, previous knowledge and ways of interacting with the world and others,  and using that to leverage learning. For instance, traditionally, academic writing has dominated the way to assess students disregarding other ways to communicate and construct knowledge. I believe that embracing diversity is also embracing the possibilities of multiple ways to construct and represent knowing and knowledge.

  • February 2020: Dr. Bin Wang

    photo of Dr. Bin Wang

    Name: Dr. Bin Wang

    Department: Information Systems

    College: Business & Entrepreneurship

     

    I am a professor of information systems and associate dean for administration, graduate studies and research at the Robert C. Vackar College of Business and Entrepreneurship. I received the UTRGV Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching in the tenured/tenure-track category in 2018, the UTRGV Outstanding International Female Faculty award in 2017, and the Most Developmental Associate Editor Award from Electronic Commerce Research and Applications in 2016. I have published over 60 referred academic journal and conference proceedings articles in top information systems journals and conferences such as Journal of Management Information Systems, Information Systems Journal, Information & Management, International Conference on Information Systems, Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences, and Americas Conference on Information Systems. I am currently a senior editor at Electronic Commerce Research and Applications and an associate editor at Journal of Electronic Commerce Research.

     

    Why is teaching important to you?  

    Teaching is important to me because it allows me to make a difference and change lives. Through teaching, we not only disseminate knowledge but also develop students’ critical thinking, analytical, problem solving, communications, team-work, and leadership skills. These skills will benefit our students for a life time, long after their graduation. Through my class activities and assignments, I also try to foster students’ desire to learn new knowledge and develop their learning abilities, so that our students will become life-long learners. This is especially important in the fast-changing and highly competitive job marketplace today where new technologies and new knowledge constantly change how we perform our job functions.

     

    What are you beliefs toward teaching and learning?  

    As a business school teacher, I believe teaching should be oriented toward real world issues to ensure relevance of the knowledge and skills we cover in the classroom. In addition, we should not only focus on the few years students spend in college or graduate school but rather should prepare them for a successful career. In my classes, I try to instill professionalism and a career-driven mindset in my students so that they are ready for the job market when they graduate.

     

    What type of learning environment do you try to create in your classroom?  

    I try to create a fun, engaging, and supportive learning environment for my students in the classroom. Students learn the most when they are actively engaged and also remember the knowledge they learn through hands-on activities the best. In addition, my teaching is characterized by using the latest technology and pedagogy to support student learning. For example, I have recorded over 200 lecture videos for various classes I teach and use the flipped classroom to support active student learning in the classroom.

     

    What is your favorite teaching strategy to foster student learning?  

    As a professor of information systems, I favorite teaching strategy is hands-on computer labs. Through these labs and exercises, students apply the knowledge and skills they have learned to demonstrate their comprehension of the knowledge. It is always rewarding to see the amazement on students’ faces when their computer programs work as intended. These hands-on exercises also develop students’ critical thinking and problem solving skills when they try to figure out the best way to design their software application and troubleshoot.

     

    What advice do you have for new UTRGV faculty members regarding teaching?  

    Every class is different depending on the contents, student learning outcomes, and modality. My advise to new UTRGV faculty members would be to adapt the pedagogy to the contents and modality to optimize student learning. One technique works well in one class may not work well in another. Even for the same class, online and face-to-face teaching require different pedagogies.

  • March 2020: Andrew Hollinger

     

    Can you share a brief paragraph about your current role and past accomplishments?

    I am the coordinator for the First Year Writing Program where I work primarily with ENGL 1301 and ENGL 1302 students. I have helped develop FYW courses and curriculum to be inquiry-driven explorations of composition, rhetoric, and multimodality. My own work focuses on WPA labor and definitions, as well as materiality, publics and circulation, and genre—research areas that support and amplify my teaching goals. In 2017 I was a recipient of the UT Regents Outstanding Teaching Award and became part of the founding cohort of UTRGV’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers. (In addition to my teaching, I am interested in maker rhetorics, and I am a practicing bookbinder and linocut artist.)

    Why is teaching important to you?

    Sometimes people work their whole lives to discover their life’s purpose. I’m lucky to have found mine early and to have time to practice it, even be good at it. Teaching allows me to help prepare my communities for and engage in the next—the next generation of people, the next evolution of ideas, the next hope. Teaching allows me to challenge entrenched ideas and processes and to participate in the creation of new movements and theories. For me, teaching is “a chance to work hard at work worth doing.” It’s a wonderful thing to have work worth doing.

    What are your beliefs toward teaching and learning?

    Everyone can learn, and everyone is worthy of an education that is meaningful—regardless of whether that education is “formal” or not.As education changes (its goals, purposes, spaces, and products), it is no longer enough to be a knower of things. Instead, students need to know how to do things and then apply that knowledge to different environments and novel situations. Sometimes part of my job, then, is to facilitate students’ transition from potentially passive learning environments to more active moments of content application and knowledge creation. To borrow an old metaphor, I do not think it is my job to fill the student-vessels with knowledge. Rather, my job is more like an interested observer, suggesting to students that there is a “well of knowledge” to draw from and tools to use, and watching as they find the tools, examine them, search for the well (or build a new one!), and finally help themselves to its provision. I see students as theory-makers: they are more than capable of constructing new knowledge, extending existing knowledge, and applying their growing expertise and experience to the discourse communities around them. The classroom, then, is not a place separate from the “real world.” The classroom is a space where students can experiment with their theories, challenge themselves and each other, discuss, seek feedback. My role is to alternatively point the way and muddle the path. Perhaps because I am a writing teacher with strong inclinations for pedagogy, but it seems to me that learning (a goal of education) happens on the way to the well, not necessarily at the well. There is something particularly powerful and meaningful in the processes of learning.

    What type of learning environment do you try to create in your classroom?

    I like a classroom that hums. I encourage students to move around the room, to talk to each other, to pull out books and computers and phones to search for information, to practice their composition and writing in the room where there is plenty of feedback to draw from. My classroom is a collaborative creative. Sometimes the groups are formal, but often they are temporary and ad hoc. Always, though, we are inventing, creating, evaluating, and revising. The learning environment has an energy and a life to it, the feeling of something happening. Even our quiet, reflective, metacognitive moments vibrate with thoughtfulness and discovery.

    What is your favorite teaching strategy to foster student learning?

    Teaching is a puzzle with a constantly changing solution. What works in one class does not always work in another class, and what works one year does not always work the next. For this reason, I like strategies that have flexibility built in. Whole-class mapping is one such strategy. It is collaborative, responsive, and continually (re)usable. One of my favorite spaces on campus is a room with whiteboards on all the walls, enough room for all the students to write. As we begin the day’s work, I’ll start mapping/doodling/sketchnoting the students’ ideas/thoughts/comments/questions on the board; then, the students will each grab a marker and begin adding to the map (sometimes as individuals and sometimes as groups). The lesson and discussion both drives and responds to the development of our class map. We can pause for a mini-lesson, to look things up, to discuss or present in and to our groups. At the end of the class time, we have a map, an infographic, of that day’s learning. Students take pictures of the board and add it to their notes. A good follow up activity is ask students to annotate the picture of the mapped lesson with a reflection, questions they have, or ideas for further learning.

     

    1. What advice do you have for new UTRGV faculty members regarding teaching? 

    My favorite quotation is my personal mantra and the advice I have for new faculty and new teachers: Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” It reminds me that I have a responsibility to bring my best to my work. Even in failure and invention and revision, I have to do my best. And there will be failure and invention and revision—that’s how we discover there is a “better” for us to do. Teaching requires personal learning, growth, and development. All that can be asked of any of us is that we do the best we can with the knowledge and resources we have. But when we learn how to be better, we have a responsibility to improve. The ethic implicit in teaching and teaching well is to figure out how to be better. Not because we’re bad, but because things change. Our students change; technology changes; classrooms change; the world changes. So we do the best we can. Until we know better. Then we do better.