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University teaching initiative awards announced

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Lauren Bratslavsky, Shelly Clevenger, Lea Cline, Tracy Mainieri, and Amanda Miller are the recipients of the 2016 Outstanding University Teaching Initiative Awards. They will be honored Thursday, February 16, at the Founders Day Convocation in the Bone Student Center.

Bratslavsky is an assistant professor in the School of Communication. Her teaching experiences began when she was a youth media literacy facilitator at a public access media center, which inspired her to pursue teaching about the media industry and critical analysis at the college level. In 2014, she began teaching at Illinois State after a year as an adjunct and several years as a graduate instructor. Bratslavsky teaches a variety of courses in the mass media division including Visual Communication, Mass Media: Cultural Criticism and Problems, Broadcast History, Mass Media Capstone, and a graduate seminar about critical media studies. A cornerstone in all of her classes is incorporating media literacy, which begins with encouraging people to be more aware of mediated environments.

Clevenger is an assistant professor in Criminal Justice Sciences. She earned her Ph.D. in criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2012. Clevenger began teaching at Illinois State University that same year. She teaches the undergraduate and graduate criminological theory courses, as well as courses on the topics of victimology and sex offenses. She also works closely with graduate and undergraduate students in Criminal Justice Sciences and Women’s and Gender Studies on independent studies and research projects. Clevenger utilizes creative active learning activities in all her courses. The most notable include the use of comic books as tools to teach students about crime and theory. For example, Clevenger assigns her students to read issue #312 of The Incredible Hulk, which deals with issues of domestic violence and how stress or strain can impact violence in the family and violence later in life. Clevenger also assigns the book The Psychology of Batman and the graphic novel, The Killing Joke, to explore the connection between psychological disorders and crime. Clevenger has a contract with Taylor & Francis to write an active learning in victimology textbook to be published in 2017. She has been honored for her teaching previously in 2016 with the Outstanding Faculty Teacher of the Year Award (Pre-Tenure) for the College of Applied Science and Technology, and with the American Society of Criminology, Division of Victimology, Outstanding Faculty Teacher of the Year Award.

Assistant Professor Lea Cline is a founding member of the European Studies program and an affiliate faculty with Women’s and Gender Studies. She earned her doctorate in art history at the University of Texas at Austin and joined Illinois State’s faculty in 2012. She teaches ancient Greek and Roman art in the art history area of the School of Art, interacting with more than 200 students annually through the course Survey of Art History I, which is part of the General Education program. As Cline describes, teaching courses about ancient civilizations often means asking students to learn foreign terms and remote, complex concepts. She wins students over with her enthusiasm: showing them personal photographs of her hugging a column, joking with fake gladiators outside the Colosseum, or a photo taken to demonstrate the quality of light in a Romanesque church. Showing these images and seeking opportunities to engage students are some of the ways she encourages interaction with historical art. Cline has made significant contributions to global initiatives at Illinois State, cofounding a four-week, summer study abroad program with her colleague Assistant Professor Kathryn Jasper in Orvieto, Italy. She is presently engaged in a project based on research conducted with study abroad program participants at Illinois State to assess the impact that study abroad experiences have on the development of cultural empathy and intercultural student learning.

Mainieri is an assistant professor in the Recreation and Park Administration program in the School of Kinesiology and Recreation.  She received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Furman University and both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in parks, recreation, and tourism management from Clemson University. Mainieri joined the Redbird faculty in the fall of 2013. Since then she has taught in both the undergraduate RPA program and the graduate Recreation Administration Master’s program. Mainieri’s professional background and research is in summer camp; she strives to bring what she’s learned at camp about fun, facilitation, and experiential learning into the classroom. She created a leadership mentors independent study program, in which students who complete KNR 171 Recreation Leadership can mentor current KNR 171 students, participate in leadership development activities, and assist her with a scholarship of teaching and learning research project. By the end this academic year, a total of 35 students will have taken part in this experience. Mainieri was honored recently as the recipient of the 2016 Innovation in Teaching Award from The Academy of Leisure Sciences, the 2016-2017 CAST Outstanding Teacher Award (Pre-Tenure Category), and a 2015 Impact Award.

Miller is an assistant professor of middle school mathematics education in the Department of Mathematics. After she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Millikin University, she taught middle school mathematics in Decatur, Illinois. Miller started at Illinois State as a graduate student in 2007. She has since completed a master’s degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in mathematics education. Miller teaches undergraduate mathematics content and methods courses for middle school mathematics education majors; she also teaches graduate mathematics education courses. She believes that errors are opportunities to learn and models how to emphasize process (thinking) over product (correct and speedy answers) during classroom discussions. In her research, Miller focuses on how to support and promote children’s thinking and learning about geometric measurement concepts in the domains of length, area, volume, and angle; how children’s drawing development provides a lens into their development of geometric and spatial thinking; and how teachers’ instructional practices are affected by professional development that utilizes hypothetical learning trajectories as tools for teachers.

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