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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

John Jelesko


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes John Jelesko, associate professor of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, for his outstanding and innovative teaching contributions to PPWS 2104, Plants, Genes, and People.

Dr. Jelesko team-teaches an Area VII course titled "Plants, Genes, and People." This popular undergraduate course highlights how humans have genetically altered a number of important crops throughout the course of human history. The course considers crop domestication, plant diseases, plant breeding, and genetic engineering technologies. Each of these concepts is carefully considered in the context of important social and economical consequences of each "new" technology.

Dr. Jelesko's presentation style leverages PowerPoint almost exclusively. However, these presentations are enhanced with beautiful digital images (e.g., plow evolution), factual readings (e.g., Dr. Huber's life), in-class hands-on labs (e.g., students hold wild, domesticated, and mutant seeds), and skits (e.g., the survival of plants from a domesticated corn cob). The hands-on labs and skits are where Dr. Jelesko's excitement for the material shines. Through these hands-on labs and skits he becomes an entertainer, not just an educator.

“The in-class lab where the students viewed the wild and mutant seeds of teosinte was really neat. I actually participated in this experience and was shocked to see the difference between the two teosinte seeds (wild type versus mutant seeds). This really helps visualize the potential evolution of corn from teosinte,” said Dr. David Schmale, an associate professor in the department of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science.

Dr. Jelesko shows particular reverence for excellent science. He is amazed by the beauty of eloquent experimentation, and seems truly impressed by brilliant minds. And his excitement for this is appreciated by the class through his demonstrated enthusiasm. For example, he shares stories of Barbara McClintock's discovery of 'jumping genes', and beautifully describes how her power of observation led to this important discovery. Science, after all, is the translation of observations, and Dr. Jelesko certainly conveys this to his class.

Dr. Jelesko also has successfully integrated the clicker-response system into his class. Each lecture contains a clicker-driven quiz question that reflected on a homework assignment. The students are expected to answer this question with their individual clickers, and their responses are recorded electronically. Some of the clicker questions turn up in the middle of the class, and this helps maintain interest in the class, and also allows the class to be broken up a bit.

If you are an undergraduate student, sign up for PPWS 2104 in the spring. If you are a faculty member, find some time to sit on the class and learn how teaching can be entertaining, and learning can be fun.

Dr. Jelesko's students remark on his engaging instructional style with enthusiasm. For instance, one student described his course: “Interesting lectures! He has high energy and loves what he does and it shows.” Likewise, another student explained that Dr. Jelesko, "provided real life stories that got our attention and related it to the lecture.”


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Teacher of the Week

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