Mason Professors Presented with Teaching Excellence Awards

Posted: April 14, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: April 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm

A ceremony and reception honoring the winners of the 2010 George Mason University Teaching Excellence Awards was held on April 12 in the Center for the Arts lobby. The awards program is directed by the Center for Teaching Excellence.

About the Award Winners

Jose Cortina. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Jose Cortina is an associate professor in the industrial/organizational psychology program. His recent research has involved topics in meta-analysis, structural equation modeling and the use of personality to predict job performance. His work has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Psychological Bulletin, Organizational Research Methods and Psychological Methods. He serves on the editorial boards of four journals and is an associate editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology. Cortina received the 2001 Ernest J. McCormick Award for Distinguished Early Career Contributions from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the 2004 Robert O. McDonald Best Paper Award from the Research Methods Division of the Academy of Management.

Rebecca Fox. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Rebecca Fox is associate professor and co-director of the Advanced Study in Teaching and Learning Program in the College of Education and Human Development. Her career has included teaching French, K-12 and college, as well as English to speakers of other languages. She began teaching at Mason in 1990 as an adjunct in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and supervised foreign language student interns in the Graduate School of Education. After completing a PhD in Second Language Acquisition Research and Foreign Language Education, she joined the faculty in the College of Education and Human Development in 1999. She also teaches courses in foreign/world language methods, second language acquisition and culture in the Multilingual/Multicultural Education Program. She works actively with pre-and in-service teachers in the K-12 schools, as well as with doctoral students specializing in teacher education, world language education and research. Her research and scholarly writing focus on teacher professional development, portfolio development and reflective practice in teacher education, and foreign/world language education. Fox currently is co-principal investigator of a U.S. State Department grant, the Russia-U.S. Teacher Professional Development Program, and is also part of the current U.S.-Greek Teacher Professional Development Grant. She serves on the national NCATE audit team for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and as a member of the team that is re-writing the ACTFL/NCATE Teacher Education Standards. She is the executive secretary for the National Network on Early Language Learning and also serves as chair of the Portfolios and Reflection Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association.

Devon Johnson. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Devon Johnson is an assistant professor in the Department of Administration of Justice and affiliated faculty member with the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, African and African American Studies and the Center for Social Science Research. Her teaching career began six years ago at Mason. During Johnson’s first year, three of her four classes were new course preps, and she focused intently on becoming a good instructor. Since then, she has taught a wide range of courses, from a 200-student Introduction to Criminal Justice course, to an eight-person graduate seminar on the politics of crime policy. One of her greatest teaching experiences was leading the administration of justice undergraduate honors seminar in 2005-06. Her students completed an original research study on attitudes toward counter-terrorism policy and presented the results of their work at several national conferences. A paper based on this research is currently under review for publication in an academic journal. Johnson also mentoreda student on a research project for the Faculty-Student Apprenticeship Program. She has also served as faculty advisor to two student organizations, the Administration of Justice Club; and Alpha Phi Sigma, the national criminal justice honor society.

Twila Johnson. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Twila Johnson is an assistant professor in the Department of English (General Education Award). She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Mason in 2008. As a general education instructor who refuses to be general, Johnson specializes in unique approaches to generate passionate writing from her students. At any time, she might be seen in costume while sending students on a CSI: Composition Scene Investigation, hosting a class Comp Chat talk show or leading everyone in singing a comma rule. In January, the Office of Sustainability featured her as a “Sustainability Hero” for designing a Going Green mock business convention project for her English 302B Advanced Writing course.

Tom Owens. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Tom Owens is an associate professor of music history and literature in the School of Music. He began his teaching career as an assistant at Yale University while completing his PhD. After a brief stint in publishing, he came to Mason in 1999. A specialist in 20th-century American music, Owens is the editor of the correspondence of Charles Ives. At Mason, he has been instrumental in creating many new courses and redesigning the music history curriculum for undergraduate and graduate music majors. He has taught on a wide variety of topics from world music, to English for music majors, to popular music, to graduate seminars on Mozart, Handel, Ives, Bach, Brahms and music in the 1920s. Owens is a devotee of progressive rock and an enthusiastic performer and occasional teacher of Balinese gamelan music.

Mark Sample, left, and Dann Sklarew. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Mark Sample is an assistant professor in the Department of English (Teaching with Technology Award). He began teaching high school social studies in 1994. It was there he first experimented with simulations, scavenger hunts and creative writing. Later, as a graduate student at Georgetown University and the University of Pennsylvania, Sample began thinking about the pedagogical implications of technology. The driving question then and now of Sample’s use of technology is what am I already doing that I’d like to do better, and how can technology help? As a specialist in contemporary literature and new media, Sample has continued to expand and refine his pedagogical palette. Whether it’s a general education course focused on writing and reading or an advanced course for majors focused on graphic novels, Sample strives to forge a classroom community devoted to critical thinking and creative analysis.

Dann Sklarew is associate professor and associate director of the Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) and co-director of the sustainability studies minor program. His teaching career started at Mason in 1993. He served as an adjunct instructor for biology and what is now the Honors Program in General Education. He gave one of the first lectures anywhere on the [still text-based] World Wide Web in 1993, the first web-based presentation on the role and impact of computers on the environment in 1994, and he first offered supplemental service learning credit to his Ecology, Technology and Choice students in 1994-95. After a decade hiatus, mostly spent leading a successful UN project to train water resource managers, Sklarew returned to Mason in fall 2008. Recently, he created and teaches Mason’s first distance education section of Fundamentals of Ecology; co-wrote Mason’s first Climate Action Plan, facilitated a regional alliance of environmental educators; and launched and co-led a NOAA-supported partnership to enhance watershed understanding and stewardship among roughly 10,000 local middle school students each year. Sklarew also serves as faculty adviser for 10 ESP graduate students.

Paula Gilbert with some of her students. Photo by Lori A. Wilson

Paula Ruth Gilbert is professor of French, Canadian and Women and Gender Studies in Modern and Classical Languages/Women and Gender Studies. She is also a faculty affiliate in cultural studies and New Century College (David J. King Award). Gilbert came to Mason in 1984 as an American Council on Education Fellow in Academic Administration from Howard University where she was professor of French. She served as associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), 1985-87, and then as dean of CAS, 1987-91. As dean, she gave intellectual and financial leadership for curriculum development and founded more than a dozen new programs. After returning to the faculty, she helped found New Century College and has continued her involvement in course and curriculum development. In her research and publications, Gilbert specializes in Quebec studies, French and Francophone women writers, 19th-century French studies, and the study of Paris, gender and violence as well as gender and human rights narratives. She has also taught Reading the Arts for the Honors programs. She has written or edited nine books.

She has served as the director of numerous graduate theses and received a Mason Teaching Excellence Award in 1999. She developed mentoring programs in both the Women and Gender Studies and Modern and Classical Languages Departments. One area of increasing importance for Gilbert is the intersection of the classroom, globalism, the “real world,” and the desire for students to become activists and help others to work for social gender justice. Gilbert has lived in France and has traveled widely. She was the academic faculty director of the Mason Honors Program in Oxford in 2002, the summer Paris programs in 2005 and 2009, and the Paris semester program (which she developed) in 2006 and 2007.

According to Gilbert, her years at Mason have been so magical in part because the university has given her the chance to grow along with her students — always moving in new directions, always testing her skills and abilities. Paraphrasing a comment from one of her students, she says that it is crucial to give students information that empowers them to think about ways that they can make a difference.

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