Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2014

Faculty Award winner

Claire Connolly Knox

 College of Health and Public Affairs

 Public Administration

I am a passionate facilitator of engaging, reality-based learning that challenges a student's paradigm. In the fields of public administration and emergency management, the educational challenge of linking a student's theoretical knowledge with practical experience remains. While I am no longer a practitioner, I have created partnerships and relationships with individuals in the field to enhance the classroom experience. By blending real world experiences with ongoing research, I continue to work hard to meet this educational challenge. As I evolve as an educator, I focus on the following values: linking theory to real world practice, challenging the student's paradigm, and incorporating diversity learning.

Linking Theory to Practice

As a student, I valued professors who blended their practitioner experience with research in the classroom. When I designed the Administrative Writing course, I incorporated my 11 years of technical writing experience to include common public administration writing genres, an audience-centered approach to writing, and a content-based approach to teaching grammar and editing. For the EMHS program, I continuously seek hands-on opportunities for my students. Including real world opportunities allows students to gain key skills and competencies needed in the evolving field of emergency management. Positive feedback from students and the practitioners hiring our students indicate a greater blending of theory and practice.

Challenging the Paradigm

As an undergraduate student, an influential professor encouraged me to find and break apart my paradigm. That experience changed me and greatly sharpened my critical thinking skills. I present my students with a similar experience with the reading and discussion of Ishmael in the Issues of Environmental Program Management course. Each student enters the classroom with their own worldview and they are often unaware of how those underlying worldviews potentially affect their decision-making skills as a future manager. Selected readings, role-playing, and case studies help create opportunities for students to explore, discuss, and reflect upon their paradigm.

Incorporating Diversity Learning

A career in public service requires us to serve the entire community. We do our students a disservice if we fail to include diversity issues in our teaching. While I assign a rigorous environmental justice assignment in my environmental course, I modified the Disaster Response and Recovery course to include a diversity case study. In addition, I am working with the EMHS program to incorporate diversity learning in all courses.