The College of Arts and Sciences has announced the winners of the 2016–2017 Outstanding College Teacher Awards: Professor Craig Cullen, Mathematics Department, and Professor Marion Willetts, Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
Cullen joined Illinois State’s faculty in 2009 as an assistant professor and has taught a variety of courses, from general education courses to doctoral level courses. Primarily, he has taught secondary mathematics education majors.
Cullen notes that as he continues to learn as a teacher, his teaching philosophy continues to grow and change. Because he is teaching future teachers, he likes to share his goals as a teacher with his students. He believes that the students should engage in problem-solving situations as realistically as possible and that the students should engage in many problem-solving and reasoning experiences in groups. This means that group work is a part of almost all his courses.
In addition to teaching in the classroom, Cullen has also served as a mentor or an advisor to a number of students. He has made a lasting and strong impression on the people he has worked with, and this is reflected in the student reviews he has received over the years.
He is also the author of numerous articles on the teaching and learning of mathematics. His teaching contributions and accomplishments were honored when he was recognized as an Outstanding Departmental Teacher in spring 2015.
Willetts has taught a wide range of classes since joining Illinois State’s faculty. She has taught a greater variety of distinct courses over the past decade than any other member of her department’s faculty and continues to tackle new course preparations.
She notes that all of her teaching is infused with principles of the Socratic Method, in which teaching and learning is brought forth by questions rather than answers, thereby stimulating and developing students’ critical thinking.
The development of critical-thinking skills is a theme that runs throughout all of Willetts’ instruction, and she has developed a variety of strategies to achieve this. Civic engagement and the development of character are also important themes in Willetts’ teaching, and she strives to connect the substantive material taught in her classes with the importance of making contributions to our social environment.
Her success in engaging students has not gone unnoticed by her colleagues, several of whom have sought her counsel on teaching-related issues and have asked her to give guest lectures in their classes. She has an impressive list of publications in peer-reviewed journals, some of which are considered to be the most prestigious in her area of specialization. She has also been recognized in the past for her excellence in teaching, including the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Initiative Award (2004) and the Student Education Association Annual Award (2005).
The college congratulates these faculty members as its newest Outstanding College Teachers! They will be publicly honored at the Dean’s Address and Awards Ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, in the Old Main Room in the Bone Student Center.