KOKOMO, Ind. — Three Indiana University Kokomo faculty earn distinction as among the best in the IU system, receiving prestigious teaching awards, and earning selection to respected teaching organizations.
Dmitriy Chulkov, professor of economics and management information systems, received the Frederic Bachman Lieber Memorial Award, the oldest of Indiana University’s teaching awards.
Christina Downey, associate professor of psychology; and Sarah Heath, associate professor of history, both will be inducted into the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET), which has the goal of promoting and sustaining excellence in teaching among IU faculty.
Chulkov believe he has been successful in the classroom because he makes course material relevant to students, and continually studies and applies the best teaching methods, while sharing his own enthusiasm for his subject matter.
“I believe that developing original, innovative teaching methods, using problem-based learning, case study method, and technological tools helps increase student involvement and motivation, and create a sustained impact on student learning,” he said.
In addition to teaching classes on campus, Chulkov is a leader in online course development.
He gives credit to his colleagues for their mentoring during his career, and feels responsible to share his expertise with them.
“I feel very strongly that IU Kokomo has contributed to my success as a teacher,” he said. “My colleagues have helped me as I’ve developed my teaching skills. Now I work to share my experiences and what I’ve learned with them. I’ve benefitted from their assistance in the past, and I try to carry that into the future. We’re all in this together.”
Alan Krabbenhoft, dean of the School of Business, called the award “the culmination of many years of outstanding effort in the classroom,” noting that Chulkov has earned IU’s Trustees Teaching award five times, and also received the Claude Rich Excellence in Teaching Award, the campus’s highest teaching honor.
“Dmitriy challenges students, but he is committed to their success,” Krabbenhoft said. “He is a great teacher, and also a prolific researcher. The School of Business and its students are fortunate to have such a dedicated instructor.”
He was one of 16 faculty members and three graduate students honored statewide at IU’s annual Celebration of Teaching dinner, at the Indiana Memorial Union.
Chulkov began his career in industry, working for Proctor & Gamble in his native Russia, after earning his undergraduate degree. He began teaching during his Ph.D. program at Purdue University.
“It made me realize I could share my experience in economics with other people,” he said. “I find that teaching economics classes opens up a lot of new horizons for students. It is very gratifying for me to see how students build their understanding of economics.”
In addition to teaching economics, Chulkov teaches management information systems classes, preparing students to use technology in the business world.
“I get the best of both worlds,” he said. “The computer classes prepare students with skills they will need, and they get the theoretical background from the economics classes.”
He said while faculty teach to benefit students, not to win awards, “it’s always nice to be recognized for your efforts. This is a very big honor for me.”
Like Chulkov, Downey and Heath gave credit to collaboration among faculty as a factor in their teaching success.
Downey began her teaching career at IU Kokomo shortly after completing her Ph.D.
“To be eight years in and get a significant teaching distinction speaks to the quality of mentoring over that period,” she said. “I feel lucky to have so many colleagues who are so knowledgeable about teaching. That’s the culture here, people sharing their expertise.”
That culture attracted Heath to IU Kokomo, after teaching in other places.
“I came here specifically because the culture was more to be involved in student learning,” she said. “That doesn’t always happen at larger schools. We embrace teaching and interacting with students, and collaborating with colleagues outside of your area. It’s nice that our campus supports that.”
Heath said she had decided against teaching before she enrolled in college, after seeing all the time and effort her mother, a first grade teacher, and her father, a professor, put into their careers. However, opportunities to tutor her field hockey teammates, and to volunteer with a mentoring program, drew her into teaching.
She began her career at a private secondary school, and then returned to graduate school, to teach at the college level. She uses storytelling as a tool, drawing students in to their history lessons.
“I tell stories that let students find what they can relate to with history,” Heath said. “It’s like when you read Harry Potter. You’re not a wizard, but you can relate to some of the struggles he faces, like being treated unfairly. When you tell stories like that in history, students can make a connection.”
Downey’s background in clinical psychology impacts her teaching style.
“My training as a clinical psychologist makes me very attuned to emotions, and emotional climate,” she said. “When students are in an environment that is as fun and lighthearted as possible, they become more engaged, and willing to take risks. They push themselves more when they enjoy the class.”
Scott Jones, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, is proud both were selected for FACET.
“Their skill and commitment to teaching has influenced the lives of their students, and the teaching of their colleagues,” he said. “I am sure as members of FACET, their influence will continue to grow.”
FACET was established in 1989 as the service oriented teaching academy of IU. Members are chosen annually through a peer review process. Each year, members are involved in collaborative activities at the campus, university, and national level, promoting inquiry and engagement in teaching and learning.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.