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Sean Walker Honored for Excellence in Teaching

Sean Walker Receives Carol Barnes Award

May 16, 2013

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Sean Walker

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Since joining the faculty in 2003, Sean Walker, associate professor and vice chair of the Department of Biological Science has taught 11 different classes ranging from large, lower-division general education courses to upper-division and graduate courses. In addition, he has developed and co-taught workshops and other courses. He has helped colleagues introduce technology into their classrooms, mentored and advised students and worked to coordinate supplemental instruction programs to help students who require additional help with their science classes.

Acknowledging Walker's record of excellence in teaching and his commitment to the University's educational mission, the University honored him with the Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award at today's session of the Academic Senate, where CSUF President Mildred García made the presentation before a packed room of attendees that included CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White.

Scores of colleagues surrounded Walker after the announcement was made, hugging and congratulating him. 

"I don't know what to say," he said. "Thanks to all of you and many thanks to our wonderful students. They're the reason we are all here."

The award, established in 2006, is named for Carol Barnes, emeritus professor of elementary and bilingual education, and honors faculty members who demonstrate academic rigor in teaching consistent with the University's mission and that of the California State University.

"As an instructor, I constantly try to discover new ways to get students excited about science which makes course material more interesting to them and enhances their learning experience," he said.

This approach seems to work. Walker's student evaluations are consistently very good to outstanding — with most in the outstanding category.

Walker also played an instrumental role in demonstrating how technology can enhance teaching.

"Sean is always one of the first to embrace technology and use it to improve his teaching," said colleague Kathryn Dickson, chair and professor of biological science, noting that he serves as chair of the department's Information Technology Committee and was selected to participate in a Google Faculty Institute, along with faculty members from two nearby CSU campuses, to lead workshops for his colleagues.

Walker is also primary coordinator of the supplemental instruction (SI) program in biology, which currently serves almost 300 students a week. He recruits students who have excelled in science courses and trains them to serve as mentors and advisers to other students. 

"Sean was among the first faculty members in NSM to recognize the value of SI," said Mark Filowitz, associate dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "It employs student peer leaders to run problem sessions in which the participating students are more apt to open up and discuss what they do not know, rather than appearing 'unworthy' to their professors."

Walker earned his B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Texas at Tyler, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in zoology from Miami University. He advanced from assistant professor to associate professor in 2008, and in 2010 was appointed vice chair of the Department of Biological Science.

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