2019 Archambault Teaching Award Winners Announced

The 2019 Archambault Teaching Award application process was enhanced to provide opportunities for instructors to articulate how they were going to prepare for and reflect back on the learning experiences that occurred within the classroom. The review committee had the pleasure of reading applications from an exceptionally strong pool of candidates who collectively demonstrated a commitment to outstanding course design, incorporated inclusive pedagogy, and fostered an inclusive climate within the classroom with an emphasis on reflective practice and assessment.

The award recipients are:

Pre-College: Dual Winners Summer@Brown

Megan Leyrer (Ph.D. Candidate, Neuroscience)
CEBN0940: Animal Minds: The Neural Basis of Animal Cognition and Behavior
Megan demonstrated clear excellence in teaching this Summer@Brown course. Through her use of prior teaching experiences and training through the Sheridan Center, she thoughtfully designed a course that provided every student with what was needed for them to be successful. Megan set exceptionally clear and articulate goals for her students that included content specific goals, critical thinking skills and developing an appreciation for the open-ended nature of scientific research. These objectives were reinforced on the syllabus, through the materials on Canvas, and in the classroom both on the board and as discussion points before each activity commenced. Students were active in their own learning through the range of educational experiences that Megan planned, and knew not only what was expected of them, but also how to accomplish the work as individuals, with a partner, and in a team.

Megan created an inclusive classroom environment and incorporated a variety of student-centered learning practices that allowed every student to find an entry point to the material. She provided additional resources on Canvas to accommodate learners with different backgrounds, actively sought ways to ensure all students had an equal voice through her encouragement of the quieter students, and fostered a sense of collaboration and support within the classroom. Megan designed and implemented an excellent course, actively critiquing her own work daily through the use of a reflective lesson planning template and seeking input from the students through a variety of formative and summative assessments. Additionally, Megan taught the students how to read scientific articles, and the skills she helped the students build in working with primary sources will be beneficial to them in future academic pursuits. The faculty observer indicated, “I have observed the lecturing and teaching of innumerable graduate students in my nearly 30 years at Brown. From that perspective, I easily rate Megan’s teaching and her summer course as the most impressive I have ever seen.” Megan’s level of care while designing the course, coupled with thoughtful and reflective implementation, led to an incredible class.

Katherine Contess (Ph.D. Candidate, Modern Culture and Media)
CEMS0927: From Mayberry to Netflix: Topics in Television Studies, Race, Gender and Class
Katherine demonstrated excellence in teaching this Summer@Brown offering by preparing a rigorous and approachable course for her diverse set of students. While it was evident she had completed significant work planning a well-designed course, Katherine used formative assessment techniques, including the use of a pre-survey, to get to know the students before the course began, throughout her teaching, and actively modified the course to best meet the needs of the individual students. This additional care and effort resulted in tremendous student success and created an inclusive environment where multiple perspectives and all student voices were present and elevated.

Katherine used modeling techniques, along with scaffolded learning opportunities, to demonstrate, prepare, and encourage students to learn multiple academic skills that will be useful to them in future academic pursuits. Katherine was transparent with the expectations for success across her entire course which resulted in the students learning content and gaining academic confidence as they became more adept at reviewing, critiquing, and presenting their own ideas and material. She used a variety of pedagogical methods to facilitate all types of learners, finding ways to engage with the curriculum while she simultaneously removed herself as the sole authority within the classroom.

Katherine’s prior work as an educator was clearly evident as she flawlessly moved the students through the content while providing space in which they could flourish as engaged learners. The faculty observer indicated that her use of a technique where she encouraged students to begin and maintain a fruitful discussion by calling on each other for input and feedback resulted in a course that “…stimulated participation, and the students seemed incredibly engaged and enthused; I’ve rarely, if ever, seen such a lively, active, and inspired class, in which every single student wanted to, and indeed did, speak!” Katherine demonstrated a commitment to reflective practice and was constantly striving to improve and enhance the course for the students. Her work was impeccable and resulted in a creative, inclusive, and rigorous academic exploration into how television intersects with and shapes our own lives.

Pre-College: Honorable Mention Summer@Brown

Kristin Petersmann (Ph.D. Candidate, Economics)
CEEC0927: Introduction to Microeconomics
Kristin is being awarded an Honorable Mention for her work in this Summer@Brown course, acknowledging that she created a dynamic and accessible entry into the study of Microeconomics that helped prepare students to take the A.P. Economics exam while also providing content and examples in a novel and successful manner. Kristin created a powerful and welcoming syllabus that set the tone for inclusivity within the course, and framed clear concrete goals and overarching learning objectives for the students. Her prior teaching experience helped her craft a course through backward design theory, where she moved beyond the more traditional lecture-style classroom and introduced a variety of
pedagogical methods and student-centered learning opportunities. Kristin incorporated reflective practice and formative assessment opportunities to evaluate student learning during the course and then modified the course to provide additional support for students. Through this work, Kristin did a tremendous job conveying the excitement and real-world applicability of economics to her students.

Past Award Recipients

2018      2017


Summer Session (Dual Winners): Doria Charlson and Melissa McGuirl

Doria Charlson, “Persuasive Communication”

Doria is a skilled, thoughtful and dynamic instructor. She has taught TAPS 0220: Persuasive Communication before and like all good teachers, modified the class by piloting new and engaging content in 2018. Doria’s approach to the course is compelling: she intentionally established her classroom as evolving environment where she consistently sought feedback to ensure that she met the needs of the class. In particular, in 2018, she had mostly high school students and international undergraduates. She was able to adeptly add two new elements to the curriculum that addressed the specific needs of the students. The faculty observer indicated that “Feedback is central to Doria’s pedagogy, the focus on feedback went beyond the course design as she taught all the students the importance of receiving and providing useful and constructive feedback to their peers thereby building extraordinary critical skills.” According to Doria’s personal statement, she used the required readings in the class to incorporate diverse perspectives to “reduce the impact of dynamics that undermine inclusive classroom discussion and participation”. She taught students not only how and why to communicate but furthered their “understanding of the ways in which communication is intertwined with social-cultural, political and economic phenomena”. Through a multi-disciplinary approach with clear goals and objectives for each assignment, Doria was able to scaffold the learning for the students so they could complete the tasks and found that successive work built upon their skills until they were able to identify, articulate and often convince their audience about topics that were important to them. The faculty observer referenced that Doria “committed herself to creating a community of learners who could all participate without fear. Making it possible to discuss sensitive cultural issues as learners rather than as defenders is an extraordinary accomplishment”.

Melissa McGuirl,  “Applied Ordinary Differential Equations”

Melissa taught APMA 0350: Applied Ordinary Differential Equations where she weaved both theoretical and applied math concepts into an engaging and student-focused curriculum. Melissa had clear and concrete goals that were referenced in multiple ways, through the syllabus, on exams and during problem-based learning sessions. The application materials showed that by thoughtfully crafting how she would teach the math concepts, she created an inclusive classroom environment where students were not afraid to be wrong but instead worked successfully with others in the room to support learning and embrace challenges. Melissa incorporated feedback throughout the class and tailored the class to meet the student interests. The curriculum focused on the content being taught but approached it from a variety of areas that appealed to the students in the room, from analyzing Romeo and Juliet’s love quotient to problems on disease vectors, invasive fish and oil refineries, Melissa kept the content engaging. With an intentional focus on hands-on and real world content, she employed a series of low- and high-stakes assessments and found ways to build student confidence with the material and their own abilities to succeed in the course. Through the use of participation driven non-graded weekly problem sessions with content far beyond that on the exams, she helped build an inclusive environment where students worked together, not for a grade, but inspired to help each other succeed. Melissa’s incredibly strong student reviews speak volumes about what she as an instructor was able to accomplish with her students. Many describe her use of engaging and varied content and thoughtful individual feedback as critical to their success. The faculty reviewer referenced Melissa’s approach as exemplary and she is an exceptional teacher.

Pre-College Summer@Brown (Dual Winners): Brigitte Stepanov and Beth Capper

Brigitte Stepanov, “Narratives of Revolution and (post)Colonialism: Race, Gender, and Human Rights”

Brigitte demonstrated excellence in teaching in her work with high school students in the Summer@Brown course: Narratives of Revolution and (post)Colonialism: Race, Gender, and Human Rights. It was evident from first glance that Brigitte not only has a strong passion and love of teaching but is committed to sharing that passion and enthusiasm with her students. As referenced in her personal narrative, Brigitte’s teaching philosophy “centers on inclusivity, open and facilitated discussion, and advancing student curiosity”. Brigitte referenced that teaching is an incredibly meaningful experience and she credited this to learning from prior instructors who taught with patience and care. It is evident that Brigitte honors her own craft of teaching with care and respect through her work on reflective teaching with the Sheridan Center and the attention and focus with which she approached this dynamic, sensitive and emotionally challenging topic. Brigitte clearly articulated the goals for the course and students, displaced herself as the central figure in the classroom, scaffolded for success and used a series of multi-modal student-centered techniques to encourage a thorough discourse and understanding of the material. Without Brigitte’s intentional work on creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment, the other techniques and strategies she employed would not have been successful. The faculty observation referenced that “Brigitte excelled in her classroom manner…and although she had excellent “raw material” in her very impressive students, she found many ways to make the class interesting, informative and stimulating” and the student evaluations overwhelmingly referenced how much they enjoyed the conversations with an incredible teacher who provided them with useful information that they will carry through their future academic careers.

Beth Capper, “Literature, Culture and American Identities”

Beth’s teaching style and ability to engage a class in complex discussions was inspiring in the Summer@Brown course: Literature, Culture and American Identities. Through a well thought out and designed curriculum she was able to guide and facilitate student learning in a meaningful way. Beth incorporated many diverse perspectives into the course content and was skilled at helping students discover, unpack and understand complex terminology and connections between the literary works and modern life and experiences. As referenced in the personal narrative, Beth had a goal for students to “build skills in intercultural and interpersonal communication that opened new avenues for collective understanding and civic engagement”. She and her students were able to achieve this goal through a multi-layered approach to learning that involved student-centered work with pedagogical content that ranged from blog posts to modern culture and experiences occurring at Brown and historical art and narratives. Beth’s pedagogical approach to “demystify the university and scholarly protocols” engaged students at a different level and allowed “the classroom to be more welcoming for high school students and, in particular, those who will likely be first-generation college students”. Through her intentional focus on creating an inclusive environment, Beth ensured that the complex issues surrounding power and social differences could be discussed in an open and frank manner with all voices, not only the loudest, being recognized and valued. The faculty observer indicated that “Beth has established a supportive atmosphere and a cohesive group, an excellent environment for learning…with students building on each other’s contributions”.

Pre-College STEM I and II Programs

Kristin Scaplen, “From Brain to Sensation: The Neurobiology of your Five Senses”

Kristin is an incredible teacher who has the ability to engage all students and create a community of learning that allows each student to excel. Her STEM I course “Learning and Memory: From Brain to Behavior” exposes middle school students to a complex set of concepts in Neurobiology. Kristin was able to craft a course that would be successful at any level but especially provided support for this group of young learners. She set the tone of the course on the first day with a discussion on inclusion and classroom climate. This open and collaborative conversation allowed her students to recognize the type of educational community they were engaged with and to facilitate an environment where learning could flourish. The course was well designed and through Kristin’s extensive experience with the Sheridan Center, she was extremely thoughtful and reflective in how she designed the course and assessed learning. One of Kristin’s talents is in the way she is able to weave complex and simple student-driven active learning techniques to create a comprehensive learning experience for all involved. Her work and focus on formative and summative feedback allowed her to modify and connect the class for each individual in a way that made the material incredibly tangible and meaningful. The students achieved or exceed the challenging goals Kristin set forth. The faculty evaluation referenced that “Kristin has a natural talent for teaching and she has continually worked over the years to develop this skill. This extensive teaching effort combined with her content knowledge and work as a scientist allows Kristin to create an incredible learning environment that captivates and motivates students entering her class with varying amounts of prior knowledge and experience.” The student evaluations exemplified the impact she had on each individual, how she sparked their scientific mind and created enthusiasm for continued learning.

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Summer Session:

Brian Horton, “Sex, Gender, Subversion: Introduction to Queer Anthropology”

Pre-College Summer@Brown:

Michelle Rada & Rithika Ramanurthy, “Party Girls: Feminist Fiction Up ‘Till Dawn, 1815 – 2015″

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