Distinguished Faculty Awardees Named, but the Real Winners Are Their Students

Posted on 5/1/2013 4:47:57 PM

Three faculty members have been selected for the 2013 University Senate Distinguished Faculty Awards: Fredalene Bowers, Human Development and Environmental Studies; Mike Sell, English; and Edel Reilly, Mathematics.

Beyond the Pencil and Paper Tests: Bowers Wins Distinguished Faculty Award for Teaching

Fredalene Bowers Students in Fredalene Bowers’s child development classes won’t have a hard time seeing how their course work will apply to their future careers. Incorporating authentic assessment as often as possible, Bowers, chair of the Human Development and Environmental Studies Department, strives to “apply theory into practice,” giving her students the opportunity to try out what they are learning in class in real situations.

In her Child Development and Family Relations classes, students develop lesson plans for the IndiKids childcare center in Davis Hall. Each lesson plan—which might involve something like engaging a preschooler in cooking—requires her students to use teaching principles to build a lesson that will complement the child’s developmental abilities. Not only will the students teach the preschoolers, but they will also provide documentation to parents through photos and quotes from their children. This is authentic assessment at its best. When parents gain a better understanding of the development of their child from Bowers’s students, it’s clear that her students have met the course requirements.

The first five years of life are so important to the development of a child, according to Bowers. That’s why she’s so passionate about high-quality childcare. Bowers won a Gate Opener grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to develop a program that assists nontraditional students working as childcare providers in obtaining undergraduate degrees. It was the first undergraduate program offered at IUP’s Monroeville center. And, through a Child Care Assessment Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) grant from the Department of Education, she implemented a four-year program for undergraduate student-parents. The students receive a childcare stipend as long as they attend class regularly, keep their grades up, and participate a parenting workshop on the importance of high-quality childcare.

Liberal Studies Turns Research Subject Matter on Its Head: Sell Wins Distinguished Faculty Award for Research

Mike SellAlmost any university employee would agree that working with college-age students keeps a person young. The fresh point of view students bring to campus can open our eyes in ways we wouldn’t have imagined. For Mike Sell, an author and professor of English, his eye opening came through a Liberal Studies course.

Sell’s research centers around the avant-garde—not a typical topic for non-English majors. As he developed the curriculum for his ENGL 202 course, he had to rethink his strategy.

“It’s vital that faculty at a teaching-based university practice their research in the classroom,“ he said. “I had to think beyond art history, literary studies, and cultural studies—the usual territory of study. I had to think about how my field related to physical education, political science, sociology, and chemistry.“

And the students responded positively. Sell even cited two student research essays from the class in his latest book, The Avant-Garde: Race Religion War.

“My latest book simply wouldn’t have been possible without my students.”

Service Is Really about the Students: Reilly Wins Distinguished Faculty Award for Service

Edel ReillyCommittee work isn’t everyone’s favorite. Mathematics faculty member Edel Reilly feels differently.

“Many [committee members] come from different disciplines and backgrounds than I. When we get together to accomplish a task, I am part of a group with a variety of perspectives, and I find it rewarding to be able to learn from my colleagues and to work to make good things happen.”

When she’s not teaching mathematics education courses, she’s busy with her responsibilities as chair of the Center for Teaching Excellence Advisory Board, the Teacher Education Coordinators Council Curriculum Committee, and her department’s Elementary Mathematics Education Committee. And, she serves on several other university committees, including the new science building committee.

“I think what we do here at IUP really matters,” she said. “From assisting colleagues to developing effective curricula to getting paperwork to people when they need it, every service task is really about getting our students the help they need to be successful.”