Jennifer Szydlik, a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, has been named a 2010 Regents Teaching Excellence Award winner.
Each year, two $5,000 awards are given to faculty and academic staff members at UW System institutions in recognition of outstanding career achievement in teaching from the UW System Board of Regents.
This is the ninth UW System Regents Teaching Excellence Award that UW Oshkosh has won, including six for individual professors and three for academic departments. The University has won more than any other campus in UW System.
A professor at UW Oshkosh since 1995, Szydlik has endeavored to make mathematics more than just numbers on a page for future elementary school teachers, challenging the assumptions students bring to math courses.
“Many of my students bring with them impoverished beliefs about what it means to teach mathematics and what it means to learn mathematics, and my first job is to challenge those beliefs,” she said. “I show them a beautiful and addictive world of patterns and logic.”
Last summer, Szydlik, along with Eric Kuennen, an assistant professor of mathematics, took students to Lima, Peru, to study mathematics education at the Universidad del Pacifico. The group visited local elementary and secondary schools, stayed at a jungle lodge in the Amazon rainforest, explored Inca ruins and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The students also were given an opportunity to teach Peruvian children.
Szydlik hopes to serve as a faculty adviser for a mathematics education program organized by Kuennen in China during spring interim 2011.
“I love study abroad programs because they never fail to yield transformational teaching, both in the teachers and the students,” she said.
Beyond teaching, Szydlik supervises the Math Tutor Lab and is the coordinator of the graduate program for the Master of Science in mathematics education.
“Jennifer Szydlik’s passion for and dedication to teaching exemplifies the University’s commitment to the ideals of a liberal education,” said Provost Lane Earns. “The University is extremely proud of her accomplishments.”
Szydlik earned her Ph.D. in mathematics from UW-Madison in 1995 and was appointed as a Wisconsin Teaching Scholar in 2008 by the UW System Office of Professional and Instructional Development.
Past UW Oshkosh recipients of the Regents award include James Grunloh, economics, 1995; the chemistry department, 1997; Kenneth Grieb, history and international studies, 1998; Susan McFadden, psychology, 1999; the English department, 2001; the department of biology/microbiology, 2005; John Koker, mathematics, 2006; and Douglas Heil, radio-TV-film, 2008.
For more information about the Board of Regents awards, visit www.uwsa.edu/bor/awards.