“This is probably the most meaningful award I could receive. I value teaching above and beyond any role I play at the university,” said Dr. Kameko Halfmann, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Halfmann is this year’s recipient of the Early Career Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence.
“I pursued certification in college teaching because I knew I wanted to work at a teaching-focused institution. I feel extremely honored to be recognized for my teaching. It also motivates me to continue to develop my teaching toolkit,” she said.
The Early Career Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes a tenure-track faculty member who has made distinguished contributions to the mission of UW-Platteville as an outstanding teacher. Halfmann credits her colleagues in the Psychology Department and New Instructor Learning Community for their encouragement especially when she’s trying new teaching ideas.
“The New Instructor Learning Community have been a great source of inspiration and have helped me generate new ideas or tweak what I am already doing so it is better,” she said. “Without such support, I do not think I would have felt so comfortable to try some of the techniques and activities I have in the last few years.”
Whether it is face-to-face or in a virtual setting Halfmann wants her students to continue learning once they leave her classroom. She notes everyone can benefit from a better understanding of human behavior.
“I want students to walk away with the skills they will need to navigate information they encounter in their lives,” Halfmann said. “Students can potentially take what they learn to live healthier, happier, more successful lives. My hope is students will use their understanding of psychology to better their lives, whether it be personally, professionally or as a citizen.”
Halfmann joined UW-Platteville in 2017 and has worked with several students who have received funding for their research through the Student Research Engagement funds. She has had other students participate in the Summer Undergraduate Scholars Program and the Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity award program. Currently, she’s working with two students on their research projects.
“Undergraduate research is one of the most beneficial and high-impact learning experiences a student can have because it allows students to deeply process material, develop teamwork skills and take ownership over their own learning,” she said. “Mentoring their projects over the past few years has been extremely rewarding.”
As students, faculty and staff prepare to return to campus-based learning this fall Halfmann acknowledges it will look a little different than in years past.
“We [instructors] will have to find new and creative ways to engage students given the constraints we will face with limited face-to-face classroom capacities and a primarily digital learning environment. I am so grateful to the Teaching and Technology Center, who have been providing excellent training opportunities to instructors this summer,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to provide a learning environment that provides students with compassion, structure and stability.”