Mary Niemczyk has been named as one of the first Fellows of Arizona State University’s new Provost’s Teaching Academy, which is being established to raise the quality of teaching at ASU.
Niemczyk is an associate professor and chair of the aviation programs in The Polytechnic School, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. She holds a doctorial degree in learning and instructional technology and is founder of Mastering Learning, a program that provides faculty and students resources to improve instruction and learning.
The Provost’s Teaching Academy Fellows will focus on working with new junior faculty members, providing them mentorship and developing a series of 90-minutes instructional modules on effective teaching and learning techniques.
As one of 12 Fellows, Niemczyk will help faculty members in such areas as balancing research and teaching, teaching technology-enhanced courses, using social media to promote learning, using classroom learning assessment techniques, and designing effective test questions.
They will also address topics such as being sensitive to diversity and inclusion and teaching controversial subjects.
The new academy’s Fellows are among ASU’s “most outstanding teachers and mentors,” said Deborah Clarke, vice provost for academic personnel.
“They’ve been selected from an extremely impressive pool of candidates from across all colleges and campuses. We’re fortunate to be able to draw on their expertise to support new faculty as we move to advance ASU’s commitment to excellence in teaching,” Clarke said.
“I am really excited about this. It is going to help both teachers and ASU students,” Niemczyk said. “I think faculty members will enjoy their jobs more by learning what we can teach them about engaging with students, and that in turn can have a positive impact on student retention and graduation rates.”
She said the experienced Fellows could be especially useful in guiding junior faculty through the challenge of communicating their knowledge to students.
“ASU’s professors are experts in their disciplines, but I think the Provost’s Teaching Academy programs can give them tools to more effectively share their knowledge and skills with students,” she said.
Niemczyk has taught 13 different aviation courses and developed three new courses since joining the ASU faculty in 2002.
Because of her expertise in the area, she has helped a number of other universities conduct external reviews of their aviation programs. She is a visiting team chair for the Aviation Accreditation Board International and is the current president of the University Aviation Association.
Her research focuses on improving instructional and learning strategies to enhance the performance of individuals in complex, ill-defined environments, such as aviation.
A Federal Aviation Administration-certified pilot, she co-founded an aviation human performance company that, among other things, developed effective instructional methods for training pilots on technologically advanced aircraft.
Niemczyk is the author of the handbook “Using Your Brain to Learn: Strategies for Success,” and has conducted many workshops for teachers, students and parents based on the information she provides in the book.
She jumped at the opportunity to join the Provost’s Teaching Academy.
“I think its mission is a good step in the right direction,” Niemczyk said. “It emphasizes that quality teaching is of the highest priority at ASU.”