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  Cornell University

The University Faculty

Office of the Dean

Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Excellence in undergraduate education is not necessarily associated with the highest teaching evaluation scores, the most enthusiastic student letters, or the largest growth in course enrollments although those things all matter.

Remarkable levels of learning can result through a combination of challenging and engaging curricular materials and instructional styles that are broadly inclusive and motivating. Faculty can mentor  through great teaching and can teach through great mentoring.

There are many venues for teaching excellence: the laboratory, the seminar, the large lecture, the design studio, the small section, the field study, etc. Likewise, there are many manifestations of teaching excellence. The following list is meant to signal that the Selection Committee thinks broadly about teaching excellence.  It is NOT intended to be  a list of do-or-die checkboxes.

  • develops challenging and well-organized presentations of course material.
  • teaches across cultural boundaries.
  • makes effective use of new active learning methods such as the flipped classroom.
  • improves learning outcomes through the use of new  technologies.
  • develops novel  course infrastructure  that can be used by fellow instructors.
  • teaches students to think critically and write effectively.
  • mentors at-risk students, improving their retention and performance.
  • creates scholarly materials that are available to students outside of class, e.g., textbooks, online notes, videos.
  • plays a strong leadership role in the development of curricula and their implementation at the national level or at Cornell.
  • communicates research ideas at the undergraduate level.
  • engages students in their classes who come from “far away” disciplines.
  • inspires and empowers students to pursue additional study in a subject, integrating curricula so that students are exceptionally well prepared for subsequent coursework or an undergraduate major or graduate school.
  • helps undergraduates who have self-esteem problems, health problems, and other personal issues that make it difficult for them to succeed academically.
  • mentors student organizations and groups that contribute positively to the academic environment and the overall undergraduate experience.
  • develops a passion in students for problem-solving, laboratory work, and/or field work, and for engaging in the great challenges facing their community and the world beyond.

The key is that students are inspired to learn and that learning outcomes are improved through the work and creativity of the nominee.

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Last Updated: January 7, 2018 at 7:46 pm