Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2017

Faculty Award winner

Karin Chumbimuni-Torres

 College of Sciences

 Chemistry

My driving force in teaching is to foster the best undergraduate education for my students. To accomplish this, I make sure to be involved with my students in and out of the classroom. I have observed that by caring, supporting them and serving as role model, I can impart the necessary motivation students need. This encourages students to access their full potential early in their career.

The fundamental objective of my teaching philosophy is to foster both critical and creative thinking in my students. It is very important for a student’s future career to know how to connect reason and effect, create a logical argument, and form accurate conclusions out of existing facts. I emphasize to the students that the most important skill they can master is the application of their knowledge to real problems. I encourage them to seek challenges and explain that there is more than one path and school of thought involved in solving a problem.

Another important viewpoint I hold as a teacher is the belief that there are no good or bad students, only interested (motivated) and not very interested (unmotivated) students. I truly believe that in the classroom it is the teacher’s responsibility to make a course interesting and attractive in order to motivate the student. The first component of successful teaching is using impactful visual aids. This aids can be a simple a picture, a model or even an experiment. Whatever the aid may be, it must be better than employing a hundred words to explain a concept. The second component of good teaching involves the appropriate choice of scientific literature. In addition to textbooks, I advise the students to begin reading recently published research in high impact journals, to demonstrate that the basic discipline they are studying now is not far off from today’s cutting-edge research. The third component incorporates questioning and discussion. I always encourage students to ask questions and promote discussion; it gives students a unique opportunity to develop and express their own ideas. Although many discussions are spontaneous, I always plan some discussion topics in advance.

Teaching is one of the most important services I provide to UCF. I chose to be a professor because I believe I can help to educate the future generation, and my commitment is to train high-standard students for the benefit of our society. There is no perfect formula of teaching, but rather teaching is about identifying the best approach that will work for a specific student. Although I think my teaching has been successful, I believe that I have much to learn from my peers (colleagues) and students. I am eager to continue searching for new ways to improve my teaching and mentoring skills in my classroom and beyond.