In Praise of Great Teaching

April 8, 2021

In the foundational (K-12) phase of our education, years of data and research confirm what we might naturally suspect: great teaching, more than any other factor (including family and neighborhood experience) contributes to a student’s academic outcome. For some reason, we lose that thread of discussion once a student crosses into college. As the journal Dædalus reports in a 2019 article: “An odd feature of the public policy discussion of higher education is the near absence of attention to the quality of teaching.”

Our shared pandemic experience has challenged us to rethink and revisit nearly every facet of college life, whether you are trying to lead as president or doing your best to keep pace as a second-term sophomore. We have asked some members of UIW faculty to share their experiences from the past year, in part to give some much-deserved attention to this overlooked aspect of our work.

As I read and reflect on our faculty and their insights, I am reminded of an essay by the late Jeanne Knoerle, who served as president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana from 1968 to 1983. Writing about the relationship between the love of learning and the desire for God, Knoerle observes: “I suspect that we are most fully human when we are most fully in touch with each of these powerful forces.”

In these reflections on teaching during a pandemic, and in the faculty’s own words, I hear both teacher and student rediscovering what it means to bring more of our humanity into the classroom, and to weigh, as Knoerle writes, the balance between the “rich panoply of facts, ideas and insights from which to choose, and the force of faith, which provides an energy to illuminate those choices and an end for which they are made.”

Dr. Veronica Martinez Acosta

Dr. Veronica Martinez Acosta is a professor of Biology at UIW. In this installment, she reflects on what is most important and on the student-educator relationship in COVID times. 

In Praise of Great Teaching: Dr. Veronica Martinez Acosta

Dr. Amy Crocker

Dr. Amy F. Crocker is associate professor and director of Social Accountability and Experiential Learning in the School of Physical Therapy. Dr. Crocker speaks to her students' resilience, ingenuity and sheer will to find a way. 

In Praise of Great Teaching: Dr. Amy Crocker

Dr. Christopher Edelman

Dr. Christopher Edelman, associate professor of Philosophy, challenges students to consider the bigger questions, think for themselves, but never by themselves, and live an examined life. 

In Praise of Great Teaching: Dr. Christopher Edelman

Dr. Tanja Stampfl

Dr. Tanja Stampfl, professor of English, supports her students to discover more about themselves and the world around them. 

In Praise of Great Teaching: Dr. Tanja Stampfl

Adam Watkins

Adam Watkins is professor and coordinator of the 3D Animation and Game Design program in UIW’s School of Media and Design. Watkins reflects on intentional communication and students' remarkable ability to adapt. 

In Praise of Great Teaching: Adam Watkins