Cronmiller, Cavaliers' Distinguished Teaching Professor
Distinguished Teaching Professorship was established in 1991 to recognize
an eminent scholar for outstanding teaching of undergraduates. Previous
winners have included Kenneth Elzinga (Economics), Dean Harman (Chemistry),
Karen Chase (English), Denny Proffitt (Psychology), Jim Smith (Civil Engineering),
and Dan Hallahan (Curry). In addition to receiving a monetary award, Cavaliers'
DTPs teach University Seminars and work with the Teaching Resource Center
to enhance teaching at the University. Teaching Concerns highlights this
year's winner, Claire Cronmiller, of the Biology Department.
takes a personalized approach to teaching, as evidenced by her motto,
"They won't care what we know until they know that we care."
Eschewing the rigid façade of the dispassionate lecturer, she searches
for ways to bring concepts and facts to life in order to engage and motivate
students. Her strategies include introducing classes to her pet Himalayan
rabbit (to demonstrate the concept of conditional gene expression), using
a home-made rap song to make information about genetic functional mutants
memorable, and telling parable-stories that illustrate key facets of biology
and genetics. Claire makes herself accessible to students outside class
and utilizes notes of praise, encouragement, or concern on test papers
and in e-mail correspondence with individuals. This focus on individual
learners enables her to hold students to high expectations with a demanding,
rigorous course of study. Claire believes that by emphasizing the human
element in learning, she can encourage students to be more receptive to
learning to use scientific concepts analytically. During her tenure as
DTP, Claire will work with the TRC, beginning this year as a mentor in
the University Teaching Fellows program.