Wimmer Faculty Fellows-Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

2016-2017 Wimmer Faculty Fellows

We are pleased to announce the 2016-2017 Wimmer Faculty Fellows. These fellowships are made possible by a grant from the Wimmer Family Foundation and are designed for junior faculty members interested in enhancing their teaching through concentrated work designing or re-designing a course, innovating new materials, or exploring a new pedagogical approach. Fellows work in close collaboration with Eberly Center colleagues and receive a stipend to acknowledge the work it takes to improve one's effectiveness as an educator.

Adam Bjorndahl

Adam Bjorndahl
Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy, Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Game Theory has a wide range of applications for CMU students, not just within philosophy but in other disciplines such as business, social science, mathematics, and computer science. In his course, Adam aims to help students better grasp the underlying principles of Game Theory by playing and analyzing actual games. Adam plans to develop course modules to introduce students to rational decision-making processes, starting with simple games such as Rock, Paper, Scissors and getting progressively more complicated as the course progresses. The Eberly Center will help him develop these course materials, associated assessments, and teamwork strategies that achieve his learning objectives and engage students in active practice and reflection in the classroom.

Clara Burke

Clara Burke
Assistant Teaching Professor of Business
Tepper School of Business

The current version of Clara Burke’s “Business Communications” course requires students from a wide variety of fields to develop essential communication skills (e.g., impromptu speaking) and produce relevant, professional deliverables (e.g., a cover letter). With the proposed redesign of her course, Clara aims to move her students’ conception of business communications beyond these skills and deliverables. She seeks to foster critical and creative thinking that encourages students to transfer knowledge among different contexts. For example, students will demonstrate how the communication strategy of storytelling can be used in both a cover letter and a product pitch. The Eberly Center will help Clara develop learning objectives, assessments, and teaching methods that promote student learning of this higher, conceptual level of business communications.

B. Reeja Jayan

B. Reeja Jayan
Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Institute of Technology

Given that some laboratory course scenarios are not feasible in the curriculum, a growing problem in engineering education is the inability to provide students with extensive, relevant, and practical “hands-on” training during courses. Reeja’s project explores online games as a route to both engage students and impart practical training that is not always possible in a classroom. Reeja will design a new junior-level Mechanical Engineering course, Materials and their Processing for Mechanical Engineers, integrating the engineering challenges and issues associated with sustainable energy problems. For this project, Reeja will adapt, deploy and evaluate the “Polycraft World” module for the popular online game Minecraft as an virtual active learning opportunity, challenging students to apply and synthesize their learning regarding materials selection and processing. This gaming approach will be implemented in one unit of the course. Impacts on student learning and engagement will be compared to another unit of similar difficulty, but where practice and feedback is delivered by a traditional homework assignment (e.g., problem sets).

Limin Jia

Limin Jia
Associate Research Professor
Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Information Networking Institute, Carnegie Institute of Technology

Limin aims to adopt a flipped classroom pedagogy in her “Introduction to Information Security” course. By pushing some of the content-based lectures outside of class, Limin can use in-class time for application-based activities that allow students to practice their critical thinking and problem solving skills. The Eberly Center will help Limin to rework her lectures and develop new in-class activities and assignments. Additionally, because Limin’s course enrolls students from the Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley campuses, Eberly colleagues will help Limin utilize instructional strategies and technologies that build an integrated and participatory class environment for both student populations.

Kristen Kovak

Kristen Kovak
Assistant Teaching Professor
School of Art, College of Fine Arts

In Drawing for Non-Majors, most students excel at developing their technical drawing skills, but many are reluctant to integrate creative risk-taking into their assignments. Moreover, creativity is seldom explicitly taught in art courses, since creative skills tend to be assumed and ubiquitous in art schools. Kristen intends to redesign this course to help students approach open-ended assignments by initiating their own experimentation, rather than relying on asking the instructor for constant guidance and “permission.” By revising the course assignments to include concrete cues, and by integrating research-based methods in teaching creativity, promoting self-efficacy, and encouraging a growth mindset, Kristen hopes to foster creative growth and help students become comfortable with ambiguity and risk-taking.