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Jim Krupa

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Outstanding Teaching Award
2016 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Awards

At the risk of putting you on the spot, what contribution to teaching do you believe led to your award recognition during the 2015-2016 academic school year?
I love what I teach. I love teaching biology and telling stories about biology. Standing in front of students talking about biology is great fun and students pick up on this.

In your opinion, what are the qualities of a great teacher?
Those who are great storytellers and are passionate about what they teach. I personally feel great teachers are organized and use personal experiences and research as some of their material rather than just conveying information from a text book.

What do you find most gratifying about teaching?
Turning students on to science and helping to enlighten them.

What makes teaching challenging?
Smart phones in class. Students texting in class. Students not wanting to take notes or even come to class. Students who feel all information should be available online so that they can either skip class or text in class.

How have you navigated those challenges?
I really haven't yet. I don't allow texting in class or using phones in class, but I spend too much time asking students to stop.

What are your interests outside of teaching (i.e., hobbies)?
Biology is my life. It is what I teach, what I do, what I love.

Who inspires you? And why?
Great teachers who were passionate and great storytellers

What is your favorite book and/or author?
Cannery Row and The Log from the Sea of Cortez written by lover of biology John Steinbeck.

What would want to be if you weren’t a teacher?
A nature writer.

What advice would you give to faculty at the beginning of her/his teaching career?
The advice given by the greatest of all teachers Louis Agassiz:
1) Give students first-hand (= hands on) experiences
2) Teach what you know best
3) Use first-hand experiences when possible
4) Rely on clear and simple stories
5) Teach with passion
6) Don't let student text in class
7) Don't let students spend time on social media when in class
8) Even in the largest courses, provoke discussion and interaction during class.

What resources would you share with other faculty seeking to adopt new teaching practices?
Sitting down and having conversation with [other faculty] about approaches to teaching

Jim Krupa is a Professor of Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

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