President's Award for Distinguished Teaching

Dec 4th, 2020

Kelly Foss

President's Award for Distinguished Teaching

As a professor in the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, Dr. Kris Poduska teaches a variety of courses at all levels.

Her dedication to the success of every student, her commitment to continual teaching development, and her influence which extends beyond her classroom, has now earned her the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Dr. Poduska has a long list of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral fellows whom she has supervised and mentored.

In interactions with students, she seeks to inspire curiosity and promote initiative and independence. She regularly solicits student feedback, is an early adopter of technology, consults the literature and participates in teaching development events.

“I have never encountered a colleague whose teaching practice is so fully reflective of a deeply considered teaching philosophy and a thorough assessment of the relevant pedagogical literature,” said Dr. Mike Morrow, a colleague in her department.

In introductory courses, students praise Dr. Poduska’s ability to use demonstrations and visual aids to connect course topics with familiar experiences. She infuses them with her own enthusiasm and provides opportunities for peer-to-peer instruction and collaborative problem solving. Students also appreciate her availability.

“Her office door was always open and she was always willing to clarify topics, help with assignments and encourage further discovery,” said one student.

 In discussion-based courses, Dr. Poduska spends the first class of the semester establishing expectations and ground rules for learning. Students complete a “prep sheet” on reading assignments which challenges them to come up with examples that apply the material to other contexts. 

In laboratory courses, Dr. Poduska helps students become aware of transferrable skills they develop as they conduct experimental work. Students report they are more independent, respond more appropriately to constructive criticism, and have improved critical thinking and presentation skills. 

“I'm really grateful to be in a Department, a Faculty and a University that encourages and celebrates teaching and learning in all forms: in the classroom, in research, and in public engagement,” said Dr. Poduska. “The synergy among these different aspects of teaching really makes the field of physics come alive for me as an educator.”