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College of Chemistry

2003 News Index

Jeff Reimer wins the University's Distinguished Teaching Award

Chemical engineering professor Jeff Reimer

Chemical engineering professor Jeffrey Reimer is a winner of the 2003 Distinguished Teaching Award. The award, given annually by the Committee on Teaching of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate since 1959, recognizes excellence in teaching at the University of California, Berkeley. The recipients of the Distinguished Teaching Award will be honored at a ceremony on Tuesday, April 29, at 5 pm in Zellerbach Playhouse. The ceremony features remarks by Chancellor Robert Berdahl and Alumni Association President Mark Ornellas. The public is invited to the ceremony and the reception that follows in the Toll Room of the Alumni House.

Reimer's Statement Of Teaching Philosophy

"A teacher hasn't taught until a student has learned," educator Henrietta Mears once said. This is the essence of my teaching philosophy. I envision my classroom as a laboratory where instructors and students conduct experiments in learning. It is my role to craft this laboratory as a space that not only instructs all my students in chemical engineering, but also grants them the chance to explore their unique relationship to the world.

I call on students by name at the beginning of each lecture and ask them to stand up and review, in their own words, what they found important from the previous lecture, In this way I am conducting an experiment in reflective learning, helping the students organize information in such a way as to put it in perspective. I also call on students randomly during the class, asking about definitions, calling for specific numerical calculations or estimates, and inquiring about extensions or analogies of concepts. In some cases, posing the question to the whole class and giving them time to "buzz" with neighbors precedes calling on a specific student. Student responses to these questions reflect the whole spectrum of learners—visual learners who think of graphs and/or pictures, global learners who see analogies, and so on.

I believe that good teachers are passionate about their subject. They demonstrate this passion by recognizing analogies between their students' everyday experiences and the chemical engineering principles. Passionate teachers remind their students that understanding the subject matter is but one part of a much bigger picture—the privilege of being part of a professional community that can positively impact the human condition.

Multiple learning styles can be accommodated in the classroom by using the class as a place of adventure. Adventure in this context means that teacher and student alike recognize that the outcome of a learning experiment is uncertain. What if you came to class each day with the expectation that your input, and that of other students, would change the way the class hour precedes? And what if there was no way of predicting ahead of time exactly what would happen? To foster this spirit of adventure, I attempt to build conversations with and between students. These conversations encompass design problems, ethical questions, and short calculations in order to wrest ideas from the students. These ideas, in turn, channel the lecture hour towards new, unplanned and unrehearsed areas. I rely on my knowledge of the subject matter and my training and skills as a classroom teacher to accommodate and move student learning along, in spite of the fact that I am not always sure how the students will respond to classroom dialogs. The classroom experience becomes as much an adventure (and challenge) for me as it is for my student

Related sites:

Jeff Reimer website

University Distinguished Teaching Award

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