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Curriculum and Instruction News

Russ named co-director of Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence program

December 13, 2016

Rosemary Russ, an assistant professor with the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, was named the new Faculty Co-Director of the Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence program at UW-Madison.

Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence (MTLE) aims to improve undergraduate education at UW-Madison by supporting early-career faculty to become fast, effective, and efficient starters in teaching.

Rosemary Russ
An MTLE alumna herself, Russ is an exceptional model and a champion of teaching excellence. Starting in 2017, she will begin serving on the executive committee of the UW-Madison Teaching Academy, where Russ already is a Faculty Fellow. ‚ÄčThis academy is composed of faculty, instructional staff and graduate students who have been recognized by their peers for sustained, demonstrated teaching excellence.

In its most recent e-newsletter, MTLE posted a short Q&A about Russ:

What comes to mind as you consider your new role as MTLE Faculty Co-Director?

Russ: I am hopeful that MTLE will bring the undergraduate learning experience into the consciousness and conversations of early-career, tenure-track faculty who are often lost and swimming in the world of research. UW-Madison has long had a commitment to supporting new faculty in becoming top researchers in their field. I am delighted to become a part of a community seeking to provide the same level of support to new faculty in becoming top teachers in their field. The undergraduate students at UW-Madison deserve nothing less!

What is your favorite quote about teaching?

My favorite quote about teaching (and life) is from Linus Pauling: “The best way to have good ideas is to have a lot of ideas.” For me, this is about both teaching and learning. The only way to have good ideas about teaching is to try lots of things and see what works for you and your students. And my teaching is all about providing spaces for students to have lots of ideas and to get practice evaluating those ideas.

What is your research about?

Russ: If you ask many K-16 students about science learning they will say it involves “memorizing facts” or “applying mathematical formulas to solve meaningless problems.” Not only do these answers misrepresent the practice of professional science, they are also detrimental to supporting students’ science learning! My research examines students’ and teachers’ tacit understandings of knowledge and knowing in science, and explores the impact of those understandings on classroom teaching and learning. I use interviews and observations of students and teachers to develop cognitive theories to describe the interplay between beliefs about science learning and whether/how learning occurs.

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