Rana Özbal’s Teaching Experience at KU

My primary goal in my classes is to inspire students by getting them engaged in the subject.
...Once interested, students are motivated to do well and motivated students, in turn, can conquer even the most challenging of assignments and harness the learning process...

Asst. Prof. Rana Özbal Graduate School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Koç University Outstanding Teaching Award, 2018

I am a faculty member in the Archaeology and History of Art Program and I am honored to have received the Koç University Outstanding Teaching Award in Social Sciences and Humanities for the 2017-2018 academic year. I thank KOLT for asking me to share a few paragraphs about my teaching philosophy here.

My primary goal in my classes is to inspire students by getting them engaged in the subject. I do this by ensuring that every undergraduate class I teach combines different components and has a balanced blend of some lecturing, a bit of group learning (sometimes with hands-on teaching aids) and a chance for discussion because my experience shows that such varied lesson-plans contribute to student participation and interest. In my graduate level classes, on the other hand, I strive to facilitate the best discussion by selecting the right combination of readings and topics. I instill a need for critical evaluation of all the materials and set the ground for active participation.

In addition to ensuring that students remain engaged and connected in each lesson, I believe the respect I have for my students and my desire to inspire them by fostering their ability to think critically contributes to a successful class. I strive early in the semester to learn student names and show them that I care about their learning and engagement. Once interested, students are motivated to do well and motivated students, in turn, can conquer even the most challenging of assignments and harness the learning process.

Overall, I feel that my teaching improved over the years. In my early days in the classroom I was timid and often insecure. For faculty members early in their careers, my advice is to have patience. A course matures only after the second or even third attempt and each of us grows as a teacher though a collective mosaic of experiences in the classroom. This simply takes time… As the timidity diminishes, one can enjoy the lessons and the whole teaching experience that much more. I personally enjoy being in the classroom tremendously. I also ensure that students feel these positive vibes as this synergy is also part of the recipe for their motivation and their successful learning.

I thank KOLT again for providing me an opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences about teaching and would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the administrators or deans who thought I was worthy of receiving this lovely award.