Frieders receives excellence in teaching award

July 7, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE - Accommodating students with different learning styles by integrating a variety of presentation methods, University of Wisconsin-Platteville associate professor of biology Elizabeth Frieders' dedication to education and passion for teaching has earned her the Alliant Energy Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award. Nominated by biology department chair Wayne Weber, Frieders said she was surprised to receive such a prestigious award.

"I was very happy and honored to receive the award," Frieders said. "But I was shocked - I didn't expect to get it. I love teaching, so maybe that showed through on my application packet."

Once nominated for the award, Friders submitted six letters of support, three from colleagues and three from students. She also wrote an essay detailing her teaching philosophy and methods.

"Teachers can provide the 'things' necessary for an education (the skills, facts, methods, experiences), but they cannot make students learn," Frieders said. "An excellent teacher provides not only the 'things,' but more importantly the motivation and assistance that encourage students' education."

Frieders said she tries to bring a lot of energy and excitement about a subject to each of her classes, in turn stimulating students' enthusiasm. She also tries to incorporate small group learning exercises during class to give students an opportunity to synthesize material or apply it in other ways.

"Through participation in teaching development workshops and programs, I have continued my learning of what and how to present the 'things' of an education to students," Frieders said. "And I have found it important not only to learn about various teaching methods but also to experiment in using them in the classroom and then to share the outcome, both positive and negative, with other educators."

Frieders joined the faculty at UWP in 1997 as an assistant professor teaching courses ranging from general botany to evolution. Currently an associate professor, Frieders said the highlight of her profession is watching students catch the learning bug and running with it.

"I enjoy interacting with students in an educational setting - seeing them learn and get excited and become interested in a topic is wonderful," Frieders said. "It's also great to see them graduate and get jobs in their fields and know that I helped them get there."

Frieders has a bachelor of arts degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., in biology. She continued her education at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, receiving her master's and Ph.D. in plant biological science. During her time at the University of Minnesota, she worked as a teaching assistant and was an instructor for one semester. She also completed programs for people who plan to teach.

Frieders will be officially recognized for this achievement Oct. 17, at a ceremony in Madison. In addition to receiving a plaque of recognition, she will receive $3,500. Frieders and her husband, John Haight, a researcher at Forrest Products Lab in Madison, reside in Platteville. The couple love animals, having four cats and two horses. In her free time, Frieders enjoys gardening, hiking, antiquing and restoring their home.

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