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Outstanding Profs Receive Awards for Teaching, Scholarship

From left: Christine Harrington, teaching excellence award winner; Mark McCormick, vice president for academic and student affairs; Susan Altman, scholar award winner; College President Joann La Perla-Morales; Patricia Kiernan, adjunct award winner; and Ronald Goldfarb, special assistant to the president and member of the Council for Adjunct Faculty Development.

From left: Christine Harrington, teaching excellence award winner; Mark McCormick, vice president for academic and student affairs; Susan Altman, scholar award winner; College President Joann La Perla-Morales; Patricia Kiernan, adjunct award winner; and Ronald Goldfarb, special assistant to the president and member of the Council for Adjunct Faculty Development.

Three outstanding professors at Middlesex County College were recently honored: Susan Altman, professor of fine art, was selected as the 2016 Faculty Scholar; Christine Harrington, of the History and Social Sciences Department, received the Excellence in Teaching Award; and Patricia Kiernan, of the Mathematics Department, received the Excellence in Teaching Part Time Award.

Professor Altman has done extensive research on digital technologies in studio art.

“What was most impressive was her implementation of Adobe Creative Suite and her studio research on a pioneering new technique using electricity in the etching process instead of traditional chemicals that had a negative impact on the environment,” said Mat Spano, a member of the selection committee. “She also cites her familiarity with the SOTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) research in her discipline as well as her contributions to shaping that research by way of critical reviews and papers and presentations of her own. Professor Altman has also found ways to apply this scholarship to her classroom and studio teaching. This is demonstrated by her use of writing for critical thinking in the classroom by way of teaching students to write critiques of artworks, a strategy that she researched and developed further resulting in the publication of an article in Issues of Education at Community Colleges.”

Dr. Harrington “is truly a master teacher among master teachers,” Dr. Spano said. “She effectively channels all of her research and publications in pedagogy and the psychology of learning into her lectures, lesson plans, activities and assignments. The effortless way in which she seems to have integrated her years of research into her teaching philosophy is quite impressive. She makes it look easy, but those of us who know the breadth and depth of her research as well as the many challenges involved in reaching our student population appreciate her achievement in classroom teaching. In particular, we applaud her skillful implementation of scaffolding, writing-to- learn activities, collaborative learning (the way it should be done), motivational techniques, support systems, and formative assessment. A master teacher has the ability, the experience, and the versatility to reach multiple audiences and guide them to the learning outcomes. Professor Harrington does all of this, and more.”

Patricia Kiernan is a proponent of the “flipped classroom” approach, in which the students listen to video lectures on their own time via the internet, and then come to class to work with their professor on assignments.

“She seems to understand the purpose of the flipped approach as evidenced by her clear, concise video lectures, embedded with quizzes, and active-learning in-class activities rooted in practical and creative problem-solving,” Dr. Spano said. “She also has students demonstrate core concepts for their peers. She strives to understand the students’ perspective and challenges and uses this as the starting point for her lesson plans.”