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College of Science and Mathematics

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Robert Clark and Soma Roy Honored with Distinguished Teaching Award

Kinesiology professor Robert Clark and statistics professor Soma Roy were awarded the Cal Poly Distinguished Teaching Award for 2015-16 at the university’s Fall Conference celebration. Clark and Roy were honored for excellent teaching, instructional innovation, and a commitment to student success, among other criteria.

Chemistry professors Greg Scott and Alan Kiste received the Learn by Doing Scholar Award in the work in progress category. The award is presented to faculty members whose research increases the understanding of how Learn by Doing techniques enhance student learning.

Distinguished Teaching Award

Robert Clark, Kinesiology Department 

Robert Clarke
Photo credit: Chris Leschinsky

Clark challenges students to build things and solve problems rather than simply remember theories and concepts. “Learning how to think isn’t easy,” he said. “It requires taking responsibility for understanding complex foundational information used to support other more complex topics.” 

Clark’s classes aren’t easy, said one student, but that’s part of what makes them valuable. “Dr. Clark pushes you to understand,” he said. “He’s developing superior critical thinkers, achievers and successful students in and out of the classroom. Dr. Clark realizes that we are the innovators of tomorrow. He wants us to be better than average, more knowledgeable than most, and have a desire to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone and not be afraid to rise to a challenge.”

Clark earned his bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly in 1992 and returned as a faculty member in 1998. In 2001, he received Cal Poly’s Distinguished Lecturer Award.

Soma Roy, Statistics Department

Soma RoyRoy brings statistics to life through Learn by Doing experiences that inspire students to evaluate ways to collect and analyze data, interpret results, reflect on the answers, and decide what new questions need to be asked. “Dr. Roy doesn’t want you to just memorize for the test and brain dump it afterwards,” a student said. “She challenges you to understand the material for the benefits it will have in your professional career.”

Student learning takes center stage in Roy’s classes. “Her passion for teaching makes her classroom a great atmosphere for learning,” one student said. “Due to her concern for students, she and her students have a mutual respect for each other.” 

Roy’s research is also student-centered and focuses on understanding how students learn statistics and how faculty can better develop course materials. She is the editor of the Journal of Statistics Education.

Learn by Doing Faculty Scholar Award

Planned and In-Progress Research Category

Greg Scott and Alan Kiste, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department

Alan Kiste and Greg ScottKiste and Scott were recognized for their project “Cal Poly Studio Chemistry: An Examination of Student Outcomes.” Twenty-two years ago, a team of Cal Poly chemistry and biochemistry faculty members reconsidered how students were taught general chemistry. The resulting studio chemistry concept, which combines lecture and lab, emphasizes student collaboration through activities that use technology and modern instrumentation in data gathering, analysis and presentation.

In a new project, Kiste, Scott and a team of students are re-examining the effects of the lecture/lab environment on content knowledge, grades, retention and learning attitudes. The results promise new levels of understanding about the studio environment’s impact on student learning. “Our deeper understanding of the studio model will impact thousands of Cal Poly students each year who enroll in our general chemistry classes,” the award review committee wrote.

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