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Great Teacher Award
2016 UK Alumni Association
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 was truly humbled by the recognition. Teaching is my passion and something I have committed my career to for the past 16 years. One of my student nominees made a statement that really resonates with me: "Dr. Stephenson finds that one special attribute in every student that makes them special." I had never really thought about my teaching that way, but that is absolutely what I strive to achieve -- giving students confidence by encouraging them to focus on their strengths. With confidence, students are able to achieve great things!
In your opinion, what are the qualities of a great teacher?
I think the best teachers are kind, considerate, enthusiastic, creative, challenging, organized, and passionate and knowledgeable about their discipline.
What do you find most gratifying about teaching?
I find it very gratifying to see my students achieve their dreams, whatever that may be. If I have even a small role in helping a student to find their own passion and path, that is incredibly rewarding.
What makes teaching challenging?
We all learn differently so trying to find that balance between course activities to appeal to all styles of learning can be challenging.
How have you navigated those challenges?
I try to include a wide variety of types of activities in all of my classes. I will have some days when I mostly lecture, but others where we do in-class activities or students present their own work. I want to make the classroom an engaging environment for students to think, learn, and apply their knowledge.
What are your interests outside of teaching (i.e., hobbies)?
I enjoy spending time with my family (including three daughters) and friends. We spend a lot of time participating in outdoor activities, watching sporting events, and finding tasty local restaurants! I also enjoy exercising and volunteering in the community.
Who inspires you? And why?
My three daughters are my greatest inspiration. They are 13, 11, and 9 years old and they inspire me to think outside of the box, try new ideas, and support every student to help them reach their fullest potential and achieve their dreams.
What would want to be if you weren’t a teacher?
What advice would you give to faculty at the beginning of her/his teaching career?
Learn as much as you can about today's students, attend teaching workshops and talk to experienced colleagues, and don't be afraid to be creative, innovative, and challenging in your approach to teaching. Also, try to be as organized as possible (students definitely value that!) and protect your personal time as students may want you to be available around the clock. And, have fun and enjoy the experience!
Tammy Stephenson is Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.
click here for Professor Stephenson's favorite teaching activity
One of my favorite activities for my Introductory Nutrition course is in-class group case studies. The class is fairly large (160-200 per semester) and includes students from a variety of majors, such as dietetics, nursing, food science, pre-pharmacy, and pre-medicine. Students work in teams of four to complete the scenario-based case studies. They generally have the entire class period to work through the case studies and they submit the completed assignment at the end of the class period. For the students, these in-class case studies develop critical thinking skills and challenge the students to apply the knowledge they are learning in class to real-life scenarios. As well, working in teams develop communication skills and provides students an opportunity to engage with other pre-healthcare professionals, a skill that is necessary for work in a healthcare setting. As the instructor, I can walk around the class and interact with each group, which contributes to a better overall atmosphere and small-class feel in the “large lecture” class.