Engaging his pupils in discussion about class material has been a key to Engineering Prof. Elliot Soloway”s success as a professor. Students presented him with the 2002 Golden Apple Award for his unique teaching style yesterday evening in the Mendelssohn Theatre.
“I teach differently than you”re supposed to and getting this award is tremendously reaffirming,” he said.
Soloway, who is also a professor in the schools of Education and Information, spends the first 20 minutes of every class discussing current events. He uses national and international events and relates it to technology and business in addition to how it will affect his student”s lives. He also relates these events to course material.
Sponsored each year by Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching, the Golden Apple award is given by students to their choice for the best professor at the University.
“It is a celebration of everything we believe in (everything) that this University and this program are about,” said Michael Brooks, the director of Hillel, which also sponsors the award, along with Apple Computers Inc. and various University organizations.
The honor is bestowed on those faculty members that uphold the Golden Apple tradition, which requires that the selected professor has given every lecture as though it was their grand finale. Winners are known for their unique and captivating lecture styles. The winner receives the Golden Apple statuette and is asked to give their “ideal last lecture.”
Soloway was overwhelmed that his students” effort to vote enabled him to win this year”s award. Soloway says his conversational method with his students makes his teaching style unique. Every day he tries to get the students involved by asking them “What do you think?” attempting to get the students to relate what they are doing back to their experiences in the past.
In a class of 50 to 60 students, Soloway said a key to his success in teaching has depended on getting most of his students to contribute to a discussion on a daily basis by the middle of each semester.
“Teaching isn”t about a monologue. I frame what the students do. I shape it,” said Soloway.
Inspired by a high school physics teacher who had a daily dialogue with his students, Soloway has always tried to do the same in his 31 years of teaching. He said classes should be driven by what the students want. Soloway said his primary goal is to leave students feeling good about themselves when they complete his course.
“I”m not worried about content,” he said. “I think content will take care of itself if they feel good about themselves.”
In his lecture, titled “The Joys of Technology,” Soloway”s speech drew audience members to laugh and listen, while they remained intent on his words.
Soloway”s lecture, delivered to a packed audience, left several students captivated with his humor and accessibility.
“He”s an exciting presence on stage certainly more interesting than most of my professors,” said Engineering senior Lee Linden.
Throughout his lecture Soloway stressed the need for engaging children”s interest by getting them to ask the questions. He also spoke about the ideals of technology as a process and the need for a new balance between curriculum and technology.
“I like how he said he wants to use dialogue,” said RC freshman Samantha Woll. “He”s taking old principles of Dialogue and applying it to new technology.”