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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Marlene Preston


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Marlene Preston, associate professor of Communication, for designing relevant courses, and her care and concern for her students’ academic and personal well being.

Dr. Preston has had the privilege of teaching two courses that allow students a clear view of the impact of the course on their lives: Interpersonal Communication and Communication Skills. The latter course was designed as a “transition course” that keeps freshmen and faculty together for two semesters as they explore various aspects of oral and written communication and begin to question their identities, their values, their appreciation of difference, and their futures. As Dr. Preston quotes: “What a treat to get to watch students become a community--bonding with each other, cultivating their strengths, supporting each other as they take risks with their learning, and thriving in their new academic setting! I see the evidence every year that learning is social and transformative.”

Students have commented on the great chemistry in Dr. Preston’s classes, not realizing how intentional her strategies were to help build that "chemistry"--getting them to learn every student's name, to share themselves in pairs and trios, to depend on and trust each other as they participate in formal and informal collaboration. Some students who met in her classes have made friendships that lasted long beyond their time together. As their teacher, Dr. Preston exhibits the same characteristics she would want to see in them: stretching herself beyond prior performance, admitting mistakes, disclosing select information about her own life and values, demonstrating preparedness and integrity, and striving to be a better person and professional as a result of having known them. When it all works well, Dr. Preston states, “Teaching is an effortful and satisfying experience--even joyous.”

In 2013, Dr. Preston was awarded the Alumni Teaching Award, based on her work in undergraduate education, graduate education, and faculty development. This year, she was a co-recipient of the XCaliber Award and the Career Advising Award. To support her nomination, one student wrote: "From the very beginning of my freshman year, Dr. Preston has worked incredibly hard to keep me on track, not just academically, but career-wise." Another student wrote, "I am so happy to have you as my COMM teacher in my very first year. You have no idea how much I appreciate that you used to talk with me in your office and comforted me since I was so homesick." And as Dr. Preston responses, “Yes, offering comfort is part of teaching.”


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A list of the past winners is available.