NDSU faculty recognized for innovative teaching

NDSU faculty recognized for innovative teaching


Three accomplished NDSU faculty members have been recognized with the Peltier Award for Teaching Innovation.

Honorees include:

• Carrie Ann Platt, associate professor of communication and associate dean in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

• Benjamin Balas, associate professor of psychology and co-director of the EEG Core Facility of the Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience

• Jenny Linker, associate professor of health, nutrition and exercise science and director of the Let’s Move in Homeschool program

The award was established with the NDSU Development Foundation by Joseph and Norma Peltier to recognize outstanding innovation in teaching.

“We have many talented faculty within our community working with our students,” said Vice Provost Canan Bilen-Green. “Peltier awardees are some of the most innovative of our faculty committed to their students’ learning and success. Their teaching innovations and creativity create learning experiences that are unique and impactful.”

Award recipients will be recognized by President Dean L. Bresciani and Interim Provost Margaret Fitzgerald at the annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence in the fall.

Carrie Anne Platt

Platt was nominated by Stephenson Beck, chair of communication, who notes that Platt uses a variety of methods to get feedback information from students. “She starts off her courses with class surveys to assess student knowledge of course content. She subsequently tailors her teaching strategies to match this data,” Beck said. “Dr. Platt regularly uses student input to improve her classes, allowing her to adapt instruction while empowering student participation.”

Beck said Platt created the Comm 189 course, which gives communication students an overview of the offered majors and a vision of what a four-year program looks like. She also helped establish Shadow a Student Day for NDSU, where administrators and faculty followed students as they went about their daily routines.

Platt joined the NDSU faculty in 2008. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Carroll College, master’s degree in communication at Wake Forest University and her doctorate in communication from the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California.

Benjamin Balas

Balas was nominated by the Department of Psychology Faculty Affairs Committee members Verlin Hinz, Mark McCourt and Michael Robinson. “Dr. Balas is one of our department’s most talented instructors, and has developed a number of exciting and creative approaches to teaching multiple upper-division courses in our department,” the nominators said. “Based on his ability to engage students with complex course content using innovative teaching techniques, we think he is an ideal candidate for this year’s award.”

Balas’ undergraduate students write informational articles describing neuropsychology material for fourth- and fifth-graders in the Fargo Public Schools. The elementary students then provide feedback to the NDSU students, and Balas also offers the young learners tours of the department’s research facilities following each semester.

In his Sensation and Perception course, he developed hands-on activities that include pinhole cameras to model the human eye and using sunprint paper to better understand the retina. Balas also uses the activities in the NATURE Sunday Academy, NDSU’s STEM Kids summer program and the annual meeting of the Vision Science Society.

Balas joined the NDSU faculty in 2011. He earned his bachelor’s degree and doctorate in brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Jenny Linker

Linker was nominated by Shannon David, associate professor and coordinator of clinical education in the Department of Health, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences. “Dr. Linker’s high-quality innovative teaching is founded upon developing respectful, caring relationships with students and setting high, yet achievable expectations. She uses a standards-based backwards design approach to develop her curriculum, courses, and professional development classes,” David said. “Her entrepreneurial spirit and creativity have truly shined via these relevant and meaningful student experiences.”

Linker established the NDSU Let’s Move in Homeschool service-learning program, the SchoolsAlive! Adopt-a-School service-learning program and implemented cooperative learning instructional models such as Adventure Education and Sport Education in her undergraduate courses. In addition, Linker’s popular Active Classrooms course has been instrumental in empowering elementary education teachers to integrate classroom physical activity.

Linker earned bachelor degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and Westfield State College, Massachusetts. She earned her master’s degree in physical education at Bridgewater State College, Massachusetts, and her doctorate in kinesiology with a concentration in physical education teacher education from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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