“The TA did a great job of close reading with us and opening our minds to possibilities the text presented that I otherwise would not have considered. Wonderful job overall supporting us in our learning and discovery.”UW-Madison undergraduate student
The University of Wisconsin-Madison employs over 2,200 teaching assistants across a wide variety of disciplines. The contributions of TAs in the classroom, lab, studio and field are essential to the University’s education mission. In order to recognize excellence on the part of TAs across campus, each year the Graduate School, with funding support from the College of L&S, administers awards for exceptional teaching by graduate students.
This year, the campus-wide TA Award committee has chosen to honor fifteen outstanding graduate instructors for their teaching excellence. The awards are given in four categories: early excellence, exceptional service, innovation in teaching, and a Capstone Ph.D. award for career achievements.
The following six audio interviews were recorded and edited by the Graduate School's director of communications.
Loka is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology. She is an environmental sociologist working on issues of environmental injustice.
As a TA Loka taught multiple discussion sections for an introductory course titled “Problems of American Racial Ethnic Minorities”. She kept her students engaged by drawing on current political debates, music and literature. Her goal was to help them find modern relevance in historical events to better understand today’s social problems.
Aria is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of French and Italian. The work she has done in and out of the classroom led to this award. While her contributions to the university and the community are many, she has maintained an outstanding record as a teacher and a graduate student.
Nicole (right) is a Ph.D. student in the Department of sociology. Her specialization is in the areas of Criminology/Penology, Political Sociology, Law & Society, and critical and feminist approaches.
Rachel Gundacker (left) is Nicole’s former student and is a current UW-Madison graduate student pursuing her master’s degree in library and information studies. She credits being introduced to the Voices Beyond Bars lecture series in the class she took with Nicole in 2009 as a crucial moment in her career path. Rachel sat down with Nicole for this interview.
Colleen is a dissertator in UW-Madison’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literature.
She is a strong believer in the Wisconsin Idea and is highly committed to bringing the humanities to the broader community.
Colleen’s volunteer work with the Russian literature program at the Oakhill Correctional Institution has left a lasting impression on her.
She has played an integral part in her department’s graduate community.
Molly is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Life Sciences Communication pursing a degree in Mass Communications. The Innovation in Teaching award recognizes her efforts to design a new approach for teaching Science, Media & Society, taught by Life Sciences Communications professor Dietram Scheufele.
Molly promotes active learning in her classrooms. In her first semester as a TA she was a driving force behind moving the lesson plan to include activities that addressed the diverse learning styles of her students from the more traditional lecture format.
It is her creative and innovative approach to teaching that led to this award.
Rebecca is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English in literary studies.
She attributes her student-centered approach to teaching with her experience as a peer tutor as an undergrad at the University of Michigan’s Sweetland Writing Center.
Rebecca is committed to innovative teaching practices and believes strongly in working one-on-one with students to bring out their best work.
Take a listen.
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