Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Four best U.S. professors give teaching tips at USF

Carnegie 2012 best professors Todd Pagano, left, and USF’s Autar Kaw share their background and philosophy on teaching Wednesday in Tampa.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Carnegie 2012 best professors Todd Pagano, left, and USF’s Autar Kaw share their background and philosophy on teaching Wednesday in Tampa.

TAMPA — When Lois Roma-Deeley started her college teaching career, she got together twice a year with friends in the same situation.

They were all learning how to be good teachers. They poured tea and opened notebooks. And as they reflected on their last few months in the classroom, they always started with the same question: "What do we want to never have happen again?"

Now she is among the best.

Roma-Deeley joined three other nationally recognized professors, including University of South Florida professor of mechanical engineering Autar Kaw, for the school's third annual Student Success Conference on Wednesday at USF.

Faculty, graduate students, provosts, deans and librarians looked on at USF's Marshall Student Center, listening to tips and stories from the four 2012 U.S. Professors of the Year, awarded by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

It's a transformational time in college education, the professors said. Funding is in flux and large numbers of low-income students are finding it harder to get in. The emphasis is on accountability, results and technology.

And while college used to be a smaller, more elite endeavor, now it's a normal and expected path to take. Millennials — those in their 20s and early 30s — don't thrill in gaining information for information's sake, because they can find out anything immediately, said Christy Price, a psychology professor at Dalton State College in Georgia.

"They've been inundated with information from the time they were very young," she said. "Variety is really critical to the modern learner."

Teachers can't talk for long stretches and expect students to stay engaged, Price said. Now, it's about mini-lectures and participation.

The others agreed. As director of the laboratory science program at the Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf in New York, Todd Pagano signs to deaf students and speaks to hearing students at the same time. He said it forces him to slow down and use visuals, which benefits every student.

"You have to pulse your classroom with a whole bunch of different modalities," Pagano said. "There's nothing wrong with some chalk talk, but I'm a proponent of not overdoing it. … There's so much wonder in science. Every day in my classroom, there is and will be some sort of fire."

For USF's Kaw, it's about making an emotional connection with students. It can take time, he said, but some students tell him things they're not comfortable telling their parents. And on an academic level, it's about setting high expectations and not wavering.

"Sometimes I do get student comments that I expect too much from them," he said. "The word gets out that I do have high expectations so they do hunker down."

Modern students expect professors to be available 24 hours a day, he said. Kaw hosts lectures on YouTube and asks students to submit input before class. They go into a face-to-face discussion knowing what to focus on. He answers questions on his blog, the Numerical Methods Guy, and is @numericalguy on Twitter.

"I don't believe the instructor is going to be replaced," he said. "What's going to shift is what the role of the instructor is going to be."

Passion has to come first, the professors agreed — before the contracts and tenure tracks, before the student comment forms and Rate My Professors websites, before university politics and technology. Students always respond to passion.

"I don't see much has changed since Socrates, at least for me," said Roma-Deeley. "They want to be challenged, they want to learn."

The head of creative writing and women's studies at Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Roma-Deeley said she got her values from her family. Her Italian grandmother was so desperate to be literate, she said, she would sneak away from an abusive home to sit outside classrooms and listen.

"What we do matters," she said. "I don't care what anybody says to you. … This is how you change the world."

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3394.

Four best U.S. professors give teaching tips at USF 04/03/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Deon Cain, Duke Dawson, Derrick Nnadi among SI's top 100 players

    Blogs

    Sports Illustrated's countdown of the top 100 players in college football continues with three more local players.

  2. She doesn't care if you accept her, as long as you respect her

    Human Interest

    Mary Jane Taylor finds strength walking quietly among the dead.

    Mary Jane Taylor,18, visits Oaklawn Cemetery in downtown Tampa when she is feeling low. "When I hit my low points in life I go the the graveyard," she says. "people are afraid of the graveyard. I love the graveyard." The transgender teen recently graduated from Jefferson High School. She is  enrolled in summer classes at Santa Fe College in Gainesville studying international business. She plans to transfer to the University of Florida, attend law school and become a civil rights lawyer. (JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times)
  3. Few new details in state investigation of Tarpon Springs officer-involved shooting of Nick Provenza

    Public Safety

    TARPON SPRINGS — An investigative report, released this week by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, into the officer-involved shooting that killed 25-year-old Nick Provenza included largely the same narrative prosecutors released this month that ruled the shooting a "justifiable homicide."

    Stopping while riding by on his bike Michael Prater, 15, hangs his head after looking at the memorial at Safford and Tarpon avenues for Nick Provenza, a 25-year-old who was shot and killed there during a car show Saturday by a Tarpon Springs police officer. Investigators said Provenza pulled a knife on the cop who shot him. Friends find it hard to believe a man they described as a peaceful vegan and musician would be capable of such an act. Prater didn't know the victim but was at the car show.
  4. Committee ranks bidders for Downtown Temple Terrace

    Local Government

    TEMPLE TERRACE — A company that wants to build a bank, retail building and two restaurants in the Downtown Temple Terrace redevelopment area received the highest ranking by a committee reviewing bids to buy city-owned property there.

    Martin Hudson, who has been fascinated with cities since childhood, is in charge of making sure the downtown Temple Terrace gets done. He’s confident “We can do this.’’
  5. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday. [Doug Mills/The New York Times]