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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Katherine Cennamo


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Katherine Cennamo, professor of Learning Sciences and Technologies, for utilizing a cognitive apprenticeship approach in her classroom to give her students the opportunity to work as novice instructional designers for a client through a service learning partnership.

Dr. Cennamo teaches EDIT 5534 Applied Instructional Design (ID) Theory, EDIT 5164 Design for Learning, and EDIT 5594 TS: ID Project Development: Advanced ID. She works with graduate students in the School of Education and designs her instruction to allow for collaboration, the implementation of design approaches based on learning theory, meaningful experiences aimed to enhance knowledge transfer, and the development of project management skills.

Dr. Cennamo works with students not only as their professor, but as one student noted, “she was humble enough to let us see her as the ‘most experienced member of the team’ who shared her stories, validated our ideas, relied on our suggestions, oriented our decisions, and helped us achieve.”

Dr. Cennamo and her students from her 2011/2012 Advanced ID course recently earned second place in the AECT IAP-DDL Distance Education Best Practices Award for their work creating a six-module e-learning course on Project Management for a client that serves numerous non-profit organizations. One student claimed that the project “was a success because Dr. Cennamo is a talented, passionate designer and teacher who celebrated our team’s cultural, professional, and educational diversity! Team members were from Haiti, Guatemala, Africa, China, Brazil, the US, and Jamaica.”

Numerous students agree that Dr. Cennamo demonstrates a sincere interest in the success of each student, and that, by way of observation, she finds ways to leverage each team members’ unique talents, to share responsibility, and to celebrate success. One student team members admired Dr. Cennamo’s instructional methods and the appropriateness of her lesson design for preparing students for the “ill-structured nature of instructional design challenges.” Another student team member mentioned that “she created a real cognitive apprenticeship experience in which, as members of a community, we gradually moved from the periphery while becoming more competent. We learned from each other and from her ‘thinking out loud’ when she coached us. Besides learning about instructional design, I also learned about teamwork and learner-centered, meaningful teaching.” Similarly reinforced by another team member, Dr. Cennamo “created an environment in which we could apply theory in a real-world setting, while also providing the safety net of her expertise. She invested heavily in not only the application of theoretical and design principles to the online modules, but in each student. She demonstrates the skills that she wants us to master. She asks poignant questions instead of merely giving answers.” Through the service learning partnership, Dr. Cennamo engaged in a unique challenge by offering this real-world opportunity to her students. As one of her students commended her for, not only did she have the obligation to deliver a product to the client, but she also had to ensure that her students, the learners, “were developing the necessary skillsets, all within one semester.”

Dr. Cennamo has the unique ability to guide students in the development of instructional products, given her extensive career in the field of instructional design and technology and her expertise in media production. She is actively working to instill this same passion in her students while encouraging them to value service opportunities as they contribute to the field.

Her students have recognized her success in these endeavors, as the following responses demonstrate: “Dr. Cennamo was a co-creator and facilitator of the process and product, rather than an authoritative master. Through this experience I learned how to effectively work with a client and manage all the various variables of an IDT project; how to avoid panicking when things are not going according to plan, but re-strategize and focus on the desired outcome.” And, “Through Dr. Cennamo I learned the value of service learning, the power of team diversity, and the importance of celebrating differences!”


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