June 10, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 18

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    Graduate Teaching Awards

    [karen teigiser] by jason smith

    Karen Teigiser, SSA Award for Excellence in Teaching

    By Jennifer Vanasco
    News Office

    For Karen Teigiser, receiving the School of Social Service Administration Award for Excellence in Teaching is “the ultimate award––I’m honored to get it.”

    Teigiser has been teaching for 22 years in SSA and is currently the Deputy Dean for the Master’s Program and the Director of the Professional Development Program. She teaches courses on the practice of social work, clinical social work and the treatment of children.

    “A good teacher is someone who is really passionate about the subject they are teaching and who is invested in students learning about that subject,” Teigiser said. From the letters students wrote to nominate her for the award, it is clear that Teigiser fits her own criteria, for they describe her as enthusiastic, empathetic and witty.

    Students also wrote about how attentive Teigiser is to them––she listens to what they have to say and learns who they are as individuals. They see her as a role model, possessing the traits they want to exhibit as social workers.

    Teigiser, who received her M.A. from SSA, also brings her students a deep well of experience. She has been a consultant for organizations all over the Chicago area, including a public school district and Children’s Memorial Hospital. She is currently chair of the National Directors of Continuing Education Programs in Schools of Social Work.

    “They gave me copies of the letters and they were quite overwhelming,” Teigiser said. “It’s one of those things to read on days you’re down.”

    For her part, Teigiser enjoys teaching because of the quality of the SSA students. “The students are really wonderful––what I mean is they’re very curious, they’re good critical thinkers, they challenge me intellectually, which every teacher loves,” she said.

    She added, “I am inspired by their motivation to do this work, because social work practice is very hard work, and they are just as committed to doing the work well as I am to teaching them how to do it.”

    [don coursey] by jason smith[robert lalonde] by jason smith
    Professors Don Coursey (in left photo) and Robert LaLonde were voted by the Public Policy Student Association as Professors of the Year for 1999.

    Don Coursey and Robert Lalonde, The Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies

    By William Harms
    News Office

    Two faculty members in the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies have been named Professor of the Year by the Public Policy Student Association.

    Don Coursey, the Ameritech Professor in Public Policy Studies at the Harris School, was recognized for his work teaching a required core course, Principles of Microeconomics and Public Policy II. Robert LaLonde, Professor in the Harris School, was recognized for teaching his elective courses, Collective Bargaining in Private and Public Sectors and Program Evaluation.

    In discussing his teaching style, Coursey said, “As an economist, I have a body of knowledge to share, a set of theoretical and analytical understandings that can be immediately applied to problems in the world.

    “It is a subject that is inherently interesting, and you want to teach it in a way that draws students into it,” he said. “You want to engage the students, get them excited about learning.”

    A faculty member in the Harris School since 1993, Coursey said he facilitates learning by creating an environment in class that makes students feel comfortable. “I think part of the way you do that is to avoid making the students feel threatened by your knowledge, instead making them feel that they are equal partners in the learning process.

    “The quickest way to get to a person’s mind is through his or her heart,” he added. “The way you do that is to engage the student in class, make them feel good about what they are contributing, to encourage questions and comments.”

    Coursey said he creates simulations in class based on trading activities in the New York Stock Exchange or other market activities, such as auctioning property in the public sector. He said these simulations help students learn how forces work in the real world, where people often make decisions geared to a specific set of “We also spend some time working on pragmatic measurements of the value of environmental assets and of public health,” he said. “I help them prepare for a lifetime of thinking about problems such as these. I’m also lucky to have a fine group of teaching assistants who are dedicated to making the course, and I need to recognize their work,” Coursey added.

    LaLonde said he begins his work of teaching by careful preparation geared toward helping students understand how their studies are relevant to the world around them.

    “I think the first thing you need to think about before you walk into the class is what you want to achieve,” said LaLonde, a Harris School faculty member since last winter. He was a faculty member at the Graduate School of Business from 1985 to 1994.

    “The other aspect of good teaching for me, which is probably even more important, is to bring the students into the subject you’re trying to teach,” he continued. “You have to make the sale, have to convince them the subject is interesting and worthwhile.”

    Making the topic relevant is particularly important in teaching professional students at the master’s level, LaLonde said. “They are more demanding of some connection between what they are learning and the world around them. They are not adverse to learning theory, but it can’t be theory that seems unrelated to anything they are likely to encounter.”

    In order to help students understand topics such as collective bargaining, LaLonde often draws examples from conflicts in the news. “It helps them understand collective bargaining if there is a well-publicized labor dispute going on, such as the lockout of basketball players,” he said.

    “You want them to read the Wall Street Journal, for instance, in a more informed way. What they often find out is that topics have not been well covered, that reporters and commentators have not quite gotten it right,” he said.