Teaching assistants honored for work

By The Mercury

A Kansas State University doctoral student in family studies and a master’s student in geography are being honored for excellence as graduate teaching assistants.

The university’s Graduate Student Council has selected Jaimee Hartenstein, doctoral student in family studies, Riley, and Kyleen Kelly, master’s student in geography, Olathe, as winners of the Graduate Student Council Teaching Excellence Award for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The award recognizes graduate students who excel in classroom teaching and promote awareness of graduate teaching contributions to the university’s scholarship and the teaching mission. Each recipient receives a $500 scholarship from the Graduate Student Council.

As award recipients, Hartenstein and Kelly are the university’s nominees for the 2014 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Excellence in Teaching Award. Hartenstein is the doctoral nominee and Kelly is the master’s nominee.

Winners of the award receive a $750 honorarium and travel to the Midwestern Association of Graduate Students Conference in April.

“Jaimee and Kyleen are commended for contributing to excellence in teaching undergraduates at Kansas State University and for enhancing the undergraduate academic experience,” said Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School.

“They are both passionate about teaching and facilitating undergraduate students’ success in their classes.”

Hartenstein is a teaching assistant for family studies and human services courses that examine the family in-depth throughout the life cycle. In the courses, students learn about family law, public policy and support services. Hartenstein’s faculty adviser is Mindy Markham, assistant professor of family studies and human services.

Hartenstein is involved in the university’s Honor and Integrity Council and is a co-founder of the School of Family Studies and Human Services graduate teaching assistant support group. She is also part of several national organizations, including the National Council on Family Relations, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Family Science Association.

“I believe the learning process is a cyclical relationship, meaning that I also learn from my students while they learn from me,” Hartenstein said. “My role as the instructor of the course is to educate students as well as to facilitate a student-centered learning environment, and the knowledge and information I gain from my students continually influences how I do that.”

Kelly is the teaching assistant for the introduction to physical geography lab, in which students participate in hands-on activities related to lecture topics so they can gain a better understanding of the concepts.

Kelly’s faculty adviser is Kendra McLauchlan, associate professor of geography. Kelly regularly is involved in department of geography activities.

“Receiving this award makes me really grateful I am at a university that understands and appreciates the role of graduate teaching assistants,” Kelly said.

“Graduate teaching assistants have a very special place in the classroom; oftentimes students feel more comfortable asking questions and are more vocal when then they feel they can relate to their instructors. I think this leads to more meaningful learning experiences.”

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