Mizzou Honors Outstanding Writing Intensive Teaching

Six MU faculty members were presented with the 2013 Writing Intensive Excellence Awards in recognition of their efforts in promoting writing across the curriculum. This year’s awardees were Bill Horner (political science), Mario Pennella (biochemistry), Benyamin Schwarz (architectural studies), Brian Silvey (music), Haskell Taub (physics) and Michelle Teti (health sciences).

“We have very committed faculty in our writing intensive courses,” says Amy Lannin, director of the Campus Writing Program. “The WI Teaching Excellence Awards are one way to celebrate and recognize that commitment. “

The awardees included long-time WI instructors like Horner, Schwarz and Taub and newcomers such as Pennella.

In Horner’s Political Science 4150: The American Presidency course, students write a paper comparing two presidents and another paper examining how the current president fits into a schema for classifying presidents.

“I enjoy teaching Writing Intensive courses because the assignments required give me many opportunities to think about new and different ways to approach course material,” Horner says.

Schwarz has been a WI instructor since 1993, while Taub has worked with the Campus Writing Program since 1994. Schwarz teaches one of the larger WI courses, Architectural Studies 1600: Environmental Design. Taub’s Physics 4080: Major Themes in Classical Physics is a newly converted WI course.

“My purpose is not to create trained technocrats,” Schwarz says, “but rather professionals who will be able to communicate with the public in a complex world and create environments, which will delight the eye, stimulate the mind and adapt with reason to existing conditions.”

One student says he has never been so proud of his work as he was completing the writing assignments of Taub’s course. “Working on that paper reminded me of all the reasons I love physics,” the student says in a nomination letter. “I learned a lot more than I ever thought was possible in such a ‘writing’ course.”

Pennella is a newcomer to WI teaching, but has quickly been recognized for his courses. One of his students says Pennella “revolutionized how scientific writing is taught in the biochemistry department.”

Silvey’s WI assignments provide authentic writing experiences for students as they prepare for student teaching and beyond. He teaches students to write professionally with a sense of purpose, passion, and clarity. One of Silvey’s students calls the course “the most helpful class in my time at the university.”

Teti is teaching an online WI course in health science and has carefully designed and revised the course to effectively use the available tools to support students’ learning and writing.

“Michelle substantially revised the course to integrate a new technology that would allow students to synchronously interact with one another, providing more direct contact for peer-review while producing their research papers,” says a colleague of Teti in nominating her for this honor.

“One of the best parts of being involved with the Campus Writing Program is getting to meet faculty from across the University and to learn about their effective teaching practices,” Lannin says. “There are many faculty who are involved in our 400 courses each year, so we appreciate any opportunity to draw special attention to the teaching that they do. These annual awards help us recognize excellence as we work to create a rigorous and life-changing education for MU students.”