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Liz Combs

Photograph of Liz Combs

Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award
2016 University of Kentucky Faculty Award Ceremony

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 believe that I create an atmosphere of warmth and acceptance both inside and outside of the classroom. This allows students the ability to open up to the learning process.

In your opinion, what are the qualities of a great teacher? A great teacher is one that is passionate, organized, respectful, and approachable.

What do you find most gratifying about teaching? Providing students with the opportunity to build confidence in their own skills and learn how to care for others through those skills.

What makes teaching challenging? One of my biggest challenges is having large class sizes, which can inhibit learning in some situations.

How have you navigated those challenges? I have made a thoughtful effort to provide opportunities both in and out of the classroom to get to know the students better. These include personalized assignments, small group sessions, and interacting with them through student organizations.

What are your interests outside of teaching (i.e., hobbies)? Running, swimming, and playing with my children.

Who inspires you? And why? My grandfather inspires me. He was an educator and worked in higher education until he was 83 years old. He taught me to always empower students and to treat each individual with respect.

What is your favorite book and/or author? My favorite book related to teaching is Creating Significant Learning Experiences by L. Dee Fink.

What would want to be if you weren’t a teacher? Katie Couric!

What advice would you give to faculty at the beginning of her/his teaching career? Simply be as organized as possible and regularly seek feedback from students on how to improve the learning experience.

In your opinion, how can faculty be most effective in the classroom? Faculty can be most effective by being passionate about the material and provide opportunity for students to self-reflect on the learning process and apply what is being learned in "real world" scenarios.

What resources would you share with other faculty seeking to adopt new teaching practices? The book above is a wonderful resource!

Liz Combs is a Lecturer and Dietetics Coordinated Program Director in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment.

Photo of Liz Combs with Anna Mason (left) and Carrie Kirkland (right)
Liz Combs (center) with her students Anna Mason (left) and Carrie Kirkland (right)

click here for Professor Combs' favorite teaching activity

In DHN 514 Counseling and Communication in Dietetics I have my students follow a restricted diet for 3 days and reflect on the experience. These restricted diets are the types of meal plans that their future patients will experience, so this provides an opportunity for them to “walk a mile” in their patients’ shoes. They are given the opportunity to gain knowledge through learning about the diet, gain practical application through following the diet, and then gain personal competence through self-reflection on the experience. Students seem to really gain a lot from this experience.