Please join us in congratulating Mary Kate Worden, PhD, Associate Professor of Medical Education, Director of Curriculum Integration and Development for the School of Medicine, on being presented the All-University Teaching Award. Formerly known as the University Seminars Outstanding Teaching Award, this award acknowledges excellence in teaching as well as research and service accomplishments. Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Archie Holmes, Jr., surprised Worden with the award during a March 20 classroom visit where students, colleagues, and family were present.
Worden feels honored to receive the All-University Teaching Award and is grateful to the students and faculty colleagues at the School of Medicine who supported her nomination. “In my view,” she says, “teaching is both a science and an art. The science of teaching lies in designing class sessions that encourage learners to embrace the challenge of solving difficult problems that they recognize as having ‘real-world’ relevance.
“Over the years I have developed, or helped colleagues develop, many types of collaborative ‘active learning’ exercises that prompt students to analyze biomedical data, evaluate alternative possibilities, and justify their reasoning to others. Whether these take the form of problem sets, lab dissections or Team-Based Learning exercises, I structure these sessions to help students build confidence and recognize any limitations to their knowledge and understanding of course material. In my experience, the best learning occurs when a student who has assessed their own imperfect grasp of a topic articulates their thoughts in the classroom and offers peers the opportunity to respond, or the instructor an opportunity to pose a probing question.”
Worden believes that the art of teaching lies in recognizing where students stand in relation to their own learning and in providing learners the personal touch they need and value. “Sometimes that means I answer a question with a question,” she says, “pushing students to integrate foundational material with new information. Other times, I am more direct in clarifying a key point.”
Whenever she teaches, Worden says that she always hopes to provoke a “light-bulb” moment “in which the student’s face suddenly brightens to signify that they do understand the concept, do make the connection between different ideas, and do see the bigger picture. At the happiest confluence of art and science, learners often experience light bulb moments.” For Worden, that is the highlight of teaching.
Thank you, Dr. Worden, for your dedication to our students and their pursuit of medical knowledge. The All-University Teaching Award is well-deserved!
Here are a few photos from the surprise classroom visit: