As classes resume this fall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, the Wisconsin Teaching Academy will begin its eleventh year of strengthening instruction through peer mentoring and leadership. This year, two College of Agricultural and Life Sciences professors were among the fellows inducted into the university-wide organization.
“The Teaching Academy is part of the infrastructure that is there to bring instructors together around teaching and learning, to share our techniques and philosophies,” explains Gerry Campbell, a professor of agricultural and applied economics with CALS, and a former Teaching Academy fellow and executive committee member. “Given the total faculty base in CALS, the College has made extraordinary contributions to the Teaching Academy.”
Each year, UW instructors can apply to become fellows in the Teaching Academy-to date, almost twenty College applicants have made the grade. This year, two CALS professors were made new fellows: Rich Hartel, food sciences, and Kim Zeuli, agricultural and applied economics.
Hartel says that while he was trained as a researcher, he was never taught how to be a teacher. When he became a university instructor, “a light came on” and he spent hours teaching himself educational theory. He”s now a highly-rated teacher, a mentor to colleagues, and a driving force behind curriculum improvement in CALS. “I see being a member of the Teaching Academy as a responsibility, not just an honor,” he says.
Zeuli specializes in working with diverse groups. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate students, her extension work often takes her around the state to teach farmers about cooperative business practices. The key to successful teaching is to motivate your students, she says. “Getting students interested in the subject matter, showing them how important it is to their future or current career, helps keep them engaged in the course.” Zeuli adds that the Teaching Academy is a good place to find formal information and for informal networking.
Teaching Academy fellows work to raise the value of teaching at the UW-Madison, Campbell says. The academy runs a summer institute, seminars, symposiums, and other types of workshops, as well as provides online teaching resources. “CALS in particular has a history of dedication to teaching improvement, and CALS professors helped to develop the Teaching Academy,” he adds.