The annual Creative Teaching Awards recognizes UGA faculty for excellence in developing and implementing creative teaching methods to improve student learning. Award recipients are faculty who have demonstrated either the use of innovative technology or pedagogy that extends learning beyond the traditional classroom or creative implementation of subject matter that has significantly improved student learning outcomes in their courses.
The 2020 Creative Teaching Award recipients are Amy Trauger, Puliyur MohanKumar, David Berle, Elizabeth Davis, David Gay, and Moon Jung Jang.
Amy Trauger is an associate professor in the geography department of Franklin College. She uses innovative teaching practices to engage students. In her GEOG 1101 course, students worked in groups over the semester to build a faux world given a geographic map of a fathom region. Her teaching practices allowed students to experience a fun and comprehensive understanding of geography.
UGA Online director, Stephen Balfour, detailed the reasoning behind Trauger’s selection for this award. Balfour said Trauger was unsatisfied with the amount of interaction and student engagement in her human geography course. So she reached out to UGA Online to help her redesign her 300-student online and residential course to better suit student-to-student interaction. One innovative assignment tasked students with building their own digital world given a geographic map of a region.
Students were assigned roles such as cartographer, scribe, reporter and director—each making executive decisions and plans for their fictional region. During each module the group had to come up with a consensus on how to proceed and at the end produced artifacts to display their mastery of the subject using physical or digital maps, essays, illustrations and food recipes.
The result was a significant increase in student engagement across all sections of the course. Trauger’s students actively used course concepts to debate and decide the future of their worlds. Her development and successful implementation of this creative teaching method is what led to Trauger’s recognition for innovative teaching. Her approach allowed for the optimal student-to-student and instructor-to-student experience in an online course setting and improved student learning.