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By Eller College


Three Eller College leaders were honored for their classroom contributions with Dean’s Teaching Awards in March, and another six were awarded grant funding to move proposed classroom innovations forward.

Alexandra Durcikova, associate professor of MIS, was recognized for her course MIS 307: Business Data Communications and Networking. Durcikova designed the course around the need to accommodate all learning styles. Each lecture includes hands-on activities, such as making a patch cable by hand with just a few tools, and a War Driving competition, in which teams of students have one hour to drive around Tucson and detect as many wireless local area networks as they can.

Student Wendy Wills explains: “Dr. Durcikova gave us an overwhelming amount of information to process during each class, but because of her innovative lectures and passionate style, I was able to learn more than I could have imagined.”

Associate professor of management Barry Goldman was recognized for two classes, MGMT 432: Bargaining and Negotiations and MGMT 420: Business Law, both of which emphasize participation. A fraction of each student’s grade in the negotiation class is based on that student’s reputation, which is anonymously determined by his/her classmates. In the business law course, students take an actual case, in which key facts have been altered, and work together to determine whether the change would have resulted in a different outcome in court.

Former Goldman student Andrew Harmeyer says, “While challenging his students to excel, Professor Goldman strives to create a learning environment in which students are encouraged to ask questions and participate in classroom discussion and materials exploration.”

MIS lecturer Roberto Mejias was recognized for his work in MIS 304: Using and Managing Information Systems. Mejias, who was instrumental in securing the Eller College’s accreditation with the U.S. National Security Agency to award information security certifications, works related topics into his lectures. He also works with area nonprofits to emphasize the importance of corporate social responsibility to his students; each semester, they bring in canned goods for food drives hosted by the Community Food Bank.

“If it were not for Dr. Roberto, or his sincere dedication to teaching, I would have no idea how to navigate Microsoft Project, a critical planning software application,” former student Tracy Teeter says.

The event also included awards presentations to Robert Lusch and Sherry Hoskinson of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and Robin Breault, Paul Melendez, Cindi Gilliland, and Diza Sauers of the Department of Management and Organizations — all of whom were awarded course development grants to support innovative new concepts in teaching. Lusch and Hoskinson are developing a new course in entrepreneurship, while Breault, Melendez, Gilliland, and Sauers are developing a new online module for an ethics course.

Senior management lecturer Suzanne Cummins won a course development grant in 2009; that grant funded her plan to expand access to her MGMT 402: Integrating Business Fundamentals with Ethics and Law in Management class. In addition to teaching the class in a regular classroom format, Cummins streamed online in real time through online conference software. Students could be in class “virtually,” even chatting in questions.

“When H1N1 first hit and my students could not come to class, they were really happy to have a ‘Plan B’ so they could stay home and but not fall behind,” Cummins says. “I will be looking at outcomes after the first mid-term, but in a trial run last semester, outcomes most assuredly improved over when the only option was live lecture.”