NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Lisa Janzen Scott, assistant professor of education and mathematics, received the Ralph P. Schrag Distinguished Teaching Award at this year’s Bethel College commencement May 22.
The vice president for academic affairs presents the award in recognition of an outstanding contribution to teaching, to a faculty member based on recommendations and evaluations from both peers and students. The award’s periodic presentation at commencement “affirms the importance that Bethel College places on excellent teaching by our faculty and meaningful learning by our students,” said Brad Born, academic dean.
Scott graduated from Bethel College with a double major in mathematics and speech and drama, and then taught secondary mathematics in Goessel for nine years. During that time, she earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Emporia State University.
In 1993, Scott began working at Bethel, “where she has demonstrated tremendous collegiality and adaptability,” according to peer assessments, Born said. In her first decade at Bethel, Scott taught math, computer science and teacher education courses while serving as director of Information and Media Services for five years.
Since 2004, Scott’s focus has been full-time teaching, even as she “continues to fill other vital service roles,” Born said, including teaching and advising in the freshman seminar program; teaching a cross-cultural learning class; providing peer training for technology in the classroom; coordinating work across many departments to prepare for teacher education accreditation visits, most recently in the academic year just concluded; and serving on the Assessment Committee.
Scott describes herself as having evolved “from a teacher-centered, lecture-based pedagogy to a constructivist one, wherein students actively build a functional understanding of key concepts,” Born noted. “Student evaluations of Lisa’s instruction confirm her success in both approaches.
“In all her classes, students rate [Lisa] highly for facilitating student involvement and being available for individual help,” Born said. “Such affirmation shows that Lisa not only professes a constructivist pedagogy, she practices it.”
He pointed to Scott’s approach to the class Intermediate Algebra as an illustration of her “commitment to student learning.”
“In contrast to a typical view in academia, which often discounts college algebra as a less-than-desirable ‘service’ course, for Lisa, this course is a favorite,” Born said. “Although many students come to this class anxious about their mathematics competency, they leave it thankful for Lisa’s teaching that enables them to gain confidence and learn. One student remarked: ‘A great professor . . . [who] goes out of her way to help students succeed and understand.’”
“I thoroughly enjoy teaching and am honored to be recognized with this award,” Scott said. “It is humbling, too – now students will expect great things and I will have to deliver.”