Campus News

2021 First-Year Odyssey Teaching Awards

Four University of Georgia faculty received a First-Year Odyssey Teaching Award in recognition of their success teaching an FYO Seminar.

The FYO Teaching Award recognizes outstanding instructors who have demonstrated creativity or innovation in instruction, connection to the instructor’s research and incorporation of FYOS program goals into the seminar. This year’s recipients have been fully engaged with their students, provided them with a strong connection to the university through their research and other activities and tied their curriculum directly to FYOS program goals.

Kristina Jaskyte Bahr (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

Kristina Jaskyte Bahr, an associate professor at the School of Social Work, introduces students to design thinking fundamentals and how to capitalize on their creativity to problem solve. This fall, using her research on innovation, change, creativity and design thinking, Bahr’s “Design Thinking for Social Innovation” called on students to redesign the beginning of the semester freshman experience. This timely topic engaged students in a real-time, personal dilemma and allowed a natural pathway to introduce UGA opportunities and resources. Through reflection, collaborative dialogue and faculty interviews, students gained significant
creative confidence and efficacy.

Shira Chess (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

A research agenda broadly focused on leisure and play with diverse audiences informed Shira Chess’ seminar, “Board Game Design.” With guidance from Chess, an associate professor in entertainment and media studies in the Grady College, students became reacquainted with the value that creativity and innovation play not only in academic life, but also in facing a new stage of life: college. Small groups collectively worked to design and build a unique game throughout the semester, emphasizing the importance of brainstorming, group work, community, connection and above all, play. In showing students how creativity enhances learning, Chess lays the groundwork to empower students to implement these practices throughout college.

Erik Ness (Submitted photo)

In his seminar “Research Evidence, Alternative Facts, and Fake News,” Erik Ness, an associate professor at the Institute of Higher Education, challenges students to examine how policymakers make use of evidence, information and rhetoric. Using his research on higher education politics and policies, Ness guides students to consider alternative viewpoints and lean on research evidence to support writing assignments such as a “dueling policy memo” where students write two memos on opposite ends of the same issue. Through debate and critical thinking, Ness introduces first-year students to the fundamental foundation of academic practice: vigorous debate and examination of ideas.

Elizabeth E. Saylor (File photo)

Elizabeth E. Saylor, clinical assistant professor in the Mary Frances Early College of Education, uses her research on the marginalization of women in history, feminist theory, gender inequality and intersectionality to teach “HERstory.” Students learn the influence women play in historical events beyond those few who are widely recognized. Engaging students through documentaries and role-playing interviews, Saylor encourages students to look beyond their preconceived ideas of history. Capitalizing on viewing things through a different lens, Saylor encourages students to learn about their new Athens and UGA community through a historically focused scavenger hunt.