Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2007

Faculty Award winner

Seth Elsheimer

 College of Sciences

 Chemistry

The job of a teacher is not only to present the material in a clear and organized way but also to show excitement and love for the subject. Much of what enticed me into teaching chemistry as a profession was the enthusiasm I sensed from several excellent instructors during my own education. I strive to bring that same enthusiasm to my students. Knowing the subject, while certainly essential, is not sufficient for a teacher or a student. Part of my job is to convince the students that the material is not only knowable, but also worth knowing.

Students learn best when they are actively involved in the process. I believe in the Socratic method to help lead students to understanding. I rarely give direct answers to students' questions but rather tend to ask them questions in return in an effort to lead them along the path to discovery.

I emphasize understanding over memorization. My test questions are designed to encourage students to apply what they have learned rather than just recite it. Although there are some basic facts and procedures that students must know, I consider it far more important that students have the skills needed to reason out for themselves the problems they may encounter after the course has ended.

I believe most students can succeed under the right circumstances. That optimism is necessary to be an effective teacher. I like most students, and respect all of them. I believe that the student is ultimately the one who should be accountable for his or her own learning. As the teacher, I am there to guide, assist, encourage, cajole, and even prod. Convincing students to take personal responsibility can be as important as presenting chemistry when leading them to success.

In summary, I believe an excellent teacher needs knowledge, enthusiasm, rigorous but fair academic standards, optimism, and respect for students and their abilities.