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Engaging students to do their best

College Professors of the YearEngaging students in innovative ways is a top priority for the three faculty members UNT nominated for the U.S. Professors of the Year competition.

Gopala Ganesh, professor of marketing and logistics; Lee Hughes, associate professor of biological sciences; and John Quintanilla, professor of mathematics and co-director of Teach North Texas will represent UNT in the national competition sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Christy Crutsinger, vice provost for faculty success, said, “UNT’s selection of Drs. Ganesh, Hughes and Quintanilla represent the best that UNT has to offer—faculty who care deeply about their students and who are committed to the continuous improvement of their craft.”

The national winners will be announced in September.

“UNT’s participation in the U.S. Professor of the Year competition not only rewards our best teachers, but it also strengthens the reputation of our institution on a much broader scale,” Crutsinger said. “Our goal is to make this a longstanding tradition at UNT.”

Gopala GaneshGopala Ganesh, professor of marketing and logistics

Ganesh, right, doesn’t want his students to copy his lectures word for word. Instead, he wants his students to participate actively with him in problem-solving in class.

Ganesh, who has taught at UNT since 1983, creates hands-on situations in his classes.

His Marketing and Money (M&M) course helps students improve their numbers skills using spreadsheets for case analysis. The class had 32 students in 1998, and now enrolls close to 400 per year — including about 100 non-marketing majors.

He also has used a computer simulation for a senior capstone course so students can analyze a case for a fictitious company and implement their own strategies.

“Students have told me I helped them overcome their fear of numbers,” he said. “They told me what they learned in my class will help them beyond that class.”

Lee HughesLee Hughes

Whether his class has 16 students or 100, Hughes, left, tries to make sure that every student is engaged.

Both his introductory biology research laboratory for freshmen and his capstone seminar course for seniors are small-enrollment courses in which he gets more time to interact one-on-one with the students.

“When you’re working with undergrads, there’s a lot of enthusiasm,” he says. “With the freshmen, it’s all brand new. With the seniors, they’re looking to continue what they’re already doing.”

But for his 100-member microbiology class, he tries to engage the students with activities and discussions.

“Students have an opportunity to experience it rather than just have someone tell them,” he said.

At the end of the semester, students must complete a presentation about the organism of their choice.

“It gives them a chance to choose what they find interesting,” he said. “It’s fun for me because I find out things that are interesting.”

John QuintanillaJohn Quintanilla

Quintanilla, right, likes seeing the expression of his students’ faces when they grasp a concept. He helps them get there through some innovative techniques. 

Quintanilla posts hundreds of review problems on YouTube — each can take up to an hour to produce — allowing students to view the material at their own pace.

For his Teach North Texas classes, he will role play with students, who are preparing to teach secondary math at public schools. He will pepper them with unusual questions their future students may ask, and the aspiring teachers must answer the questions. He said those students often remember those interactions as much as the math.

“My students view me as tough, but they view me as fair,” he says. “I have high expectations of my students, and I will do whatever I can to have them meet those expectations.”

 - Jessica DeLeón, University Relations, Communications and Marketing 

 (Above, from left to right, Ganesh, Hughes and Quintanilla. Photos by Ahna Hubrik/URCM.)

Posted on: Tue 06 May 2014

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