CWI Innovative Educator of the Year Nominees for 2021

Published: May 7, 2021

Each year, College of Western Idaho (CWI) nominates its best instructors for the Innovative Educator of the Year award. Past winners of this award include Kristin Cook who was named Innovative Educator for Mathematical Ways of Knowing from the Idaho State Board of Education in 2020.

The College’s 2021 nominees for Innovative Educators include:

Written Communication – Liza Long, English 102

Long teaches several different courses in her role as an English instructor. In all of these rolls she takes into account the practical uses of written communication. For example, in her English 102 course, Long asks students to become aware of and write a paper using the forms and terms of the language of their major area of study. In this way, students not only get iterative practice in writing, but they are honing skills specific to their chosen field of study. 

Oral Communication – Anna Gamboa, Communication 101

As a Communication instructor, Gamboa ensures students get low stakes practice of their communication skills. In her Communications 101 course, she helps students to carefully observe communication styles and messaging to better distinguish between trustworthy sources of information and those that are suspect. These lessons can then be used as they create their own communication content and style. 

Mathematical Ways of Knowing – Cathy Carson, Math 143

Carson's work in elementary math education and as a dual credit instructor mentorship has raised the level of excellence in our CWI Mathematics classes. Her assignments allow students to see the practical applications of math concepts in the world around them. In her Math 143 class, students select and use formulas they have learned in math to calculate things like the exact height a person will be standing at when looking out from the St. Louis arch. 

Scientific Ways of Knowing – Hollie Leavitt, Biology 227

Hollie Leavitt teaches one of the harder courses at CWI, Anatomy and Physiology (BIOL 227). Using guided learning methods, she helps her students learn the abundance of content in a way that sticks with them. For example, after studying how the lungs work, and the parts that make it up, Hollie has students create and work through the mechanics of a lung that they make themselves in the classroom setting out of a balloon, straw, and bucket.  In this way, they come away with a better understanding and a better memory of the parts that make it up. 

Humanistic and Artistic Ways of Knowing – Joel Gladd, English 227-228

Gladd uses student annotations to spark deeper research and reflection in his American Literature courses, and this combination of high-quality research and reflection on the learning process has made it a favorite assignment in his courses as students collaborate to write publicly-available annotations to works of literature. 

Social and Behavioral Ways of Knowing – Charles Dickinson, Sociology 101

Dickinson's Sociology classes help give students a new perspective on complex social issues and interactions in the workplace. One of his assignments in Sociology 101 asks students to identify a social ritual they may have always taken for granted, describe it, and relate it to a reading on a very remote culture's social rituals that may seem strange to us. Seeing the familiar as peculiar is one of the ways Charles ensures a widened sociological perspective for his students. 

Congratulations to this year’s nominees who will now move forward to the statewide competition and their chance at a $500 prize sponsored by Cap Ed Credit Union. Winners will be announced by May 15, 2021, and will represent their institutions at the annual General Education Summit as Innovative Educators of the Year in October along with nominees from all eight public institutions of higher education in Idaho. Best of luck to our outstanding CWI instructors!

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