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. Video: Heroic Hooters manager helps two sheriff's deputies subdue unruly customer

    Crime

    BRANDON — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office praised a heroic Hooters Restaurant manager Wednesday for coming to the aid of two deputies struggling to subdue an unruly customer.

    It took two deputies and a Hooter's manager to get control of Ashton B. Toney after he threatened to kill an employee who refused to serve him alcohol at a Hooter's in Brandon, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office reported.
[Booking photo from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Editorial: Turn the heat up on AC problem in Hillsborough schools

    Editorials

    Hillsborough County School District students do not want to hear that their buildings are decrepit. They do not want to hear that Florida's legislators are complicit. All they want to hear is the sweet sound of a classroom air conditioner kicking in at full power. Anything less creates uncomfortably hot classrooms and …

    Superintendent Jeff Eakins and the current Hillsborough County School Board did not create this air conditioning mess, but they own it now.
  3. Man in bunny mask part of trio that breaks into Odessa McDonald's to haul away ATM

    Crime

    ODESSA — A man in a bunny mask and two also-masked accomplices broke into a McDonald's early Wednesday, hoisted an automatic teller machine into a stolen minivan, then dumped the ATM and the van into a pond, deputies say.

    Three masked men, including one in a bunny mask, broke into an Odessa McDonald's early Wednesday and stole the ATM.
 [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Plan your weekend Aug. 25-27: Craig Morgan, Wearable Art 13, SNL's Pete Davidson, Rodeo Fest

    Events

    Plan your weekend

    USF

    Pete Davidson: Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson will headline this year's University of South Florida Round-Up Comedy Show, a back-to-school tradition at USF. Expect to hear about his recent trip to rehab, since he's known for his confessional …

    The 12th annual Wearable art Fashion Show was held at the Dunedin Fine Art Center on Saturday evening, August 27, 2016.
DAVID W DOONAN | Special To The Times
  5. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R- Land O' Lakes, is proposing an end to public financing of campaigns. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]