University at Albany

Excellence in Teaching (Teaching by Graduate Student)

Each year, the University at Albany honors special members of its community with Excellence Awards denoting exceptional contributions to the life of the campus. Two faculty members received this tribute in 2014 for Excellence in Teaching (Teaching by Graduate Student).

David JonesDavid JonesHistory

David Jones has taught as both a Teaching Assistant and Instructor of Record for a number of courses, and he is one of the most respected instructors and mentors in the Department of history—among both full-time and part-time faculty. He is admired by his students for his preparation, enthusiasm and breadth of knowledge.

David’s essential characteristic is his curiosity about new topics and places in the world. As a teaching assistant, he worked in classes that ranged from the history of Asia and South America, to Europe, Africa and the United States, welcoming the opportunity to teach topics outside his own specialty. 

Faculty and students are always impressed with how easily he masters new material and how much time he spends working with students to help them revise their papers and assignments.  

They note that he is extremely sensitive to individual student needs, mentoring them through challenges in the classroom, and providing insights to other colleagues regarding his own classroom techniques. David did not function as an ‘assistant’ but more as a ‘co-teacher’ whenever he worked as a TA. A common refrain from faculty and students is “He’s the best TA EVER!”

David has taught 11 classes in US, African, and Global History. Additionally, he volunteered to conduct an independent study course with an undergraduate on African Women’s History—just because the project and the opportunity to mentor interested him.  

He designs his classes so students expand not just their understanding of the world around them, but of their own role in constructing that world. He enhances his classes with popular culture, using it as a historical source in itself, not just a tool to entertain, and shows his students how popular culture is a way through which people construct their lives.

His assignments require students to step out of their comfort zone—even when he’s teaching 100-level courses—and draw conclusions about big concepts such as the struggle for freedom and social justice.

David has done all this while earning a perfect grade point average, obtaining two external grants to fund his dissertation research, winning 4 awards for his scholarship, publishing three books, and presenting at conferences. He is a teacher-scholar in the finest sense of the word.

Excellence in Teaching (Teaching by Graduate Student)

David Jones
Kristen Hourigan
David Jones

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