2 Geography graduate students recognized for outstanding teaching

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 1:36pm

Nicole Laliberté and Gregory Lankenau have both been recognized with the 2012 Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Awards.

The Office of the Vice President and Dean of the Graduate School and the Office of the Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education co-sponsor the awards to recognize excellence in teaching by graduate students. Recipients must have served as a graduate assistant for at least two semesters within the last two years. The award is named for Harold F. Martin, who earned his doctoral degree in education in 1954 and retired as a director in the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The wide array of courses Laliberté has taught encompass all four fields of geography: human geography, physical geography, nature-society interactions and geographic information science. For a study-abroad program in 2010, she lived in a South African nature reserve while teaching about the challenges associated with resource access and utilization. “Nicole’s ability to stimulate enthusiasm for learning while encouraging and counseling students throughout this dynamic learning environment was crucial in developing model academic and cultural ambassadors for Penn State,” one nominator said.

Geography teaching assistant Lankenau designed and implemented a parallel online version of one lecture course, supervising five undergraduate teaching interns who monitored small discussion groups. “As a teaching assistant,” he said, “I have to be more than a content filter that distills information into palatable pieces. I have to be more than a personal trainer who makes sure students do their required coursework repetitions. Instead, I have to facilitate an educational experience more valuable than any other use of their time and energy.”


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