Anna Sakovich makes the students enjoy the studies
2 February 2023
UTN's pedagogical award for 2022 was awarded to Anna Sakovich for her pedagogical efforts in the Single Variable Calculus course! Thanks to Anna's drive, dedication and interest in the students' learning, she makes the students enjoy the studies.
Congratulations Anna! How does it feel to receive the award?
It feels wonderful, I'm really excited about this! I was aware that the course works well and that the students are satisfied, but receiving UTN's major pedagogical prize was not something I expected.
How long have you been responsible for the Single Variable Calculus course and what other courses do you teach?
I started as an associate senior lecturer at the department in the spring of 2016. At the time, I had a lot of teaching experience as a lesson leader, but hardly any experience as a lecturer. Single Variable Calculus was actually the first course I lectured on. I had the course Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021 and Fall 2022.
I have taught several different courses at the department: Algebra and Geometry, Linear Algebra and Geometry I, Algebra I, Calculus of Variations, Ordinary Differential Equations I, Partial Differential Equations introductory course, Riemannian Geometry. Right now I'm teaching Several Variable Calculus: it's my first time doing the course, so it's a lot of work to put in, but at the same time it's a lot of fun!
What have you done to make the students enjoy the studies?
It's actually hard to say. My lectures are quite traditional, i.e. most of the time I stand at the blackboard and write and talk. As I see it, it is very important for the students that what I am talking about is useful for them, and for different students "useful" can mean different things: from "it will come on the exam" to "I will need it in working life ". So I make sure to mention the applications, give perspective on the material's place in their education, and yes, I also solve a lot of old exam problems. Since the course was given by me for the first time, I have introduced elements of active learning where the students get to answer questions once or a few times during the lecture via the Mentimeter tool. I know this has been appreciated by the students.
From where do you get knowledge and inspiration for educational development?
The most important instrument for me is course evaluations (both the big ones that the department organizes and the smaller ones that I fix myself during the course) and other feedback that I get from my students. Over time, I have realized that taking advantage of the students' points of view gives an incredible amount of effect.
Then I have both colleagues at the department and other colleagues with whom I collaborate in my research who are very skilled and creative teachers. You are constantly inspired by them, for example the Mentimeter problems that I mentioned above were something that a colleague told us about at one of the teacher's days. However, I have to admit that I don't always dare to implement all the exciting things that others do in their teaching! For example, flipping the classroom in an undergraduate course in a civil engineering program, as my colleagues from the algebra group have recently done, requires considerably more courage than I have today.
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