The Klawe Prize

I am honoured to be the 2014 recipient of the Kathleen W. Klawe Prize for Excellence in Teaching of Large Classes. Kathleen W. Klawe was a Professor of economics at UAlberta who taught many large classes. This teaching award was established by Prof. Klawe’s daughter, Maria Klawe, in honour of her mother, as explained in this article. (Dr Maria Klawe is a renowned academic in her own right.)

The Klawe prize is awarded in alternating years to instructors in the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Science. In Science, it had previously been won only by instructors in the Department of Chemistry.

Awards like this are very competitive; that is, many people apply. You have to submit a package, making the case why you think you deserve the award. I want to thank Prof. Elena Nicoladis and Kerry Ann Berrisford (Undergraduate Advisor, Science) in the Department of Psychology for putting together my application. I merely contributed my story--that is, my teaching philosophy document. (It sounds high-falutin’, but it just describes what I do, how I do it, and why.)

I’ve taught a lot of large classes in my career. How many, I don’t know. (What do you consider a “large class”? Over 100 students?) I never wanted the size of a class to be a barrier to learning. As a student, I took a lot of large classes. Some of those were good; some were great. I learned that it was possible to have a great in-class experience with an instructor who maybe took chances, pushed the limits of what they could do, and really loved what they were doing.

That’s not to say I’m a big risk taker, living on the edge; I talk (lecture) a lot. But I also do try to have hands-on experiences--even in big classes. For example, I assign self-management projects (in behaviour modification classes) and “virtual” computer-based labs (in perception, and cognitive psychology classes). Of course, these all have to be marked, so I also want to send out big thank-yous to the TAs who’ve dived in to the deep end and done a ton of marking this year (especially Jeffrey, Amelia, Yang, and Cheryl, with assistance from Cory and James).

I’m not a big spotlight hog, so it’s good that I don’t get to make an acceptance speech. I just want to say, thanks!

Why aren’t you studying?

Update: That's Associate Dean Glen Loppnow and me in the photo. I'm hoping some of his skill in teaching rubs off on me!


Unknown said...

Congratulations on the prize! :)

Anastasia said...

Yay! Congrats - well deserved!

Anonymous said...

YAY that's awesome! Congrats Dr. Loepelmann! After having taken plenty of large classes, including a couple taught by you, I honestly can't think of anyone more deserving :D

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