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Stewart Distinguished Teaching Awards

The Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award was discontinued effective Sept. 24, 2021. Please contact Academic Affairs for more details.

Stewart Distinguished Teaching Awards: Winners and Abstracts

Tricia Lynn


One of the most basic algebraic skills needed for mathematical success is factoring trinomials. Factoring is utilized in solving equations, graphing, and in contextual problems ranging from business to physics. My lesson was especially designed to help math-resistant students find a more efficient and mechanical way through the factoring process and provide a way to quickly check their factoring. Students were given a diagnostic quiz involving factoring trinomials. They were then given instruction in a seven-step checklist to factor trinomials, followed by collaborate group work, and additional collaboration outside of class. After the in-class instruction, students were given an assessment quiz utilizing this seven-step checklist. After practice and thorough review, students were tested on this concept on the unit exam. Comparison of the diagnostic quiz, assessment quiz, and unit exam reveal vast improvements in scores utilizing this process.


Sophia Munro


The ability to take notes that will help a person comprehend and remember information is a key academic and career skill. Unfortunately, few students have confidence in their note taking skills or recall being taught how to take notes. Therefore, it is critical that we explicitly explain the importance of and demonstrate ways to take notes in the college classroom. This lesson explored sketchnotes, a visual form of note taking. Students received instruction in how to take notes using this format and their benefits of improved comprehension, engagement, and retention of information. Students took a pre-test, listened to a lecture, sketched notes, and then took a post-test. Quantitative results demonstrated gains for all the test items. Qualitative results reflected that students liked the visually engaging aspects of sketchnotes, despite the increased effort required. Sketchnotes are extremely generalizable, as they can be created in any classroom or work environment.

2020 Award Recipients

Dr. Suzanne Duff and Dr. Jang-Young Bang

Read more about this event at the Palm Beach State College News Center


Dr. Jang-Young Bang

PHY2053 (General Physics 1) students participated in a review lesson for utilizing “six-step strategy for solving physics problems” to solve problems that describe one-dimensional motion. Students were given a take-home, diagnostic quiz involving one-dimensional motion. They were required to solve the quiz following six-step strategy. In addition, they were allowed to collaborate with their pre-assigned group members during physics forums, that my Physics Club students and I hold each week. After my thorough review of the diagnostic quiz solution in class, students were required to take their first assessment as a group quiz during an in-class group problem solving session. Students go over the assessment quiz with other physics students in physics forums and compare their solutions with my own during my quiz review in the following class.


Dr. Suzanne Duff

This lesson provides students with a structured way to increase a positive mindset and improve their psychological health and wellness. The challenge is that students are not generally taught how to adjust their mindsets, so they default to the cultural norm that money and power lead to happiness and success. While money and power can make a person’s life easier, neither are the basis for psychological health and wellness, so it’s important to guide students in understanding this important concept.

Research in Positive Psychology shows that people who incorporate certain practices into their lives over a 21-day span rewire the brain to think more positively. In this lesson, students learn that research and how making simple changes to their lives can improve their mindset. They then implement new habits at the beginning of the semester by incorporating five small changes into their lives: writing 250 things they are thankful for; journaling about 5 positive experiences; changing a physical behavior (for example, drinking more water or taking the stairs instead of the elevator); practicing meditation; and conducting five acts of kindness. They are given the semester to accomplish these tasks and submit a “Happiness Project Journal” to document their work.

Positive Psychology research suggests that adjusting your mindset to think more positively has an overall effect on a person’s psychological health and wellness, affecting all areas including the classroom, workplace and private life. This lesson helps students learn how to change their mindsets in the present and gives them practical tools they can use now and in the future.

Cary High, J.D., and Casey Reiter, J.D.

A realistic, experiential, collaborative, competitive mock trial exercise for Paralegal Studies Students: Paralegal Studies students from two separate sections of Court Systems II (PLA2229) taught by Drs. Reiter and High, prepare for a mock civil jury trial based on a fact pattern created and modified by the professors, discovered by the students through litigation, and presented by mock attorneys and witnesses played by students. Preparation includes intake interviews, drafting pleadings, discovery (including depositions), motion practice, hearings, and jury selection from a pool of criminal justice and business law students and community members. The lesson culminates in sections trying the case to verdict before their selected jury and a judge in the Palm Beach County Courthouse. The jury determines which side (section) “wins” the lawsuit, but students learn, both quickly and gradually, that as in the practice of law (and life), “wins” are quite often defined subjectively, on a sliding scale.


Catherine Montero and Mark Gatlin

Spanning three different college campuses (PBSC Belle Glade, PBSC Loxahatchee Groves, and Thomas Nelson Community College) and two states (Florida and Virginia), this collaborative exercise across disciplines and between 2-year college campuses explored student comprehension and application of fallacies in argument by using the social media platform Twitter. After in-class lectures provided foundations of understanding the different types of fallacies, students applied their knowledge by locating a Tweet from Twitter posted by a politician, which contained a fallacy. Students then justified their example as fitting into one of the fifteen argument fallacies taught by posting a screen shot of their Tweet, along with an explanation of the fallacy or fallacies, on an asynchronous blog created for this assignment. Students were then asked to select a Tweet from a classmate (from either of the other two professors’ virtual “classrooms”) and to reply with critical analysis.

Nataliya Romenesko

In my LIT1000, the curriculum is structured as a continuous exploration of various forms of literature. After talking and writing about poetry, we then proceed with short stories. Having discussed various narrative elements common, more specifically, to short stories as a thematically tighter genre of literature, I ask my students to read a few children’s book to analyze their plot, characters, point of view, and the like. I bring in a variety of children’s books—from more traditional storylines to modern experimental approaches. At the end of this discussion, I introduce the Book Project that asks my students to form small groups (2-3 students) in which they will be tasked with co-authoring a children’s book of their own. I also announce that their books will be presented to the children in an after-school program made possible through my partnership with the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County.


George Stoupas

This lesson (“Check Yourself”) provides students with a structured means to evaluate their social-emotional skills. Students use a 10-dimension rubric (see attached) that includes skills like “Dealing with Conflict” and “Accepting Feedback” as well as qualities like “Openness to New Ideas” and “Cooperativeness” to evaluate their own behavior over the course of the semester. They write three reports that reflect on their highest/lowest ratings, as well as how these changed over time. Midpoint through the semester, students choose a specific area to improve. They then develop, implement, and assess a personal plan for change. The lesson also includes direct feedback from the instructor as well as students’ peers during facilitated groups. The research on social-emotional learning demonstrates that success in life depends on our ability to manage ourselves and get along with others, whether it’s in the classroom, workplace, or our private lives. The challenge for students in developing these skills is that they simply don’t know what they don’t know. This lesson helps students learn how to reflect on what they do and make needed changes – all in the context of a structured, supportive class project.

Sandra Demauro

Students in my Fall 2016 SLS 1501 – Introduction to the College Experience course actively engaged in a Community-Based Learning Project. The Community-Based Learning Project served to increase their personal awareness of one or more subject areas addressed in Palm Beach State College’s 2016-2017 Common Reader, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Students were required to read the Common Reader within the two months of the semester. A class discussion was facilitated to discuss impressions of the book, knowledge gained, and various themes that were addressed in the book. Students were assigned groups and collaborated to identify one or more theme to be the focus of their group’s Community-Based Learning Project. Students collaborated with various administrators and staff to plan, implement and participate in a project. Students were required to write an individual reflection paper as well present their collaborative reflection with a group presentation.


Kanathy Haney

Students develop a health literacy project on a personal or community health problem. The project aims to focus on a health disparity that plagues a specific population in order to enhance health equity of their focus group. Through conducting a needs assessment of public health surveillance systems, students determine what level to focus on to properly address their audience, communicate the issue, and give a call to action. Students conduct research of the public health issue and begin to study the latest research. The next step is to assess how society views their topic and how that may influence the population. Students determine where the gaps in knowledge are and how media/society either accurately/inaccurately portrays their issues with the goal of eliminating falsehoods and increasing literacy of the issue. The project can be fulfilled through the creation of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) or through the creation of an infographic.

Tracy Ciucci

My students develop a TRACYTalk, similar to a TEDTalk, focused on health promotion and education. They began by identifying a personal or community health problem, purpose, and thesis. Students then continued their research of their problem and identified potential solutions and develop a focused call to action directed at their target audience to make a change. Lastly, students developed a TRACYTalk outline, gave a practice talk, and ultimately the final presentation in the media room. I don’t mention the media room until AFTER drop and add!

TRACYTalk develops current and relevant skills, but also fills a need in my honors students. They have higher levels of anxiety with public speaking and some don’t yet believe they can make a difference. It is my job to make them informed about health, and in this changing information world they must navigate this lifelong education in health for themselves through enhanced critical thinking skills.


Ted Cascio

Science has clearly established that helping other people is equally in our nature and beneficial to both the provider and recipient of assistance. However, the relevance of undergraduate-level course content to this salubrious habit is not often explicitly reinforced in the classroom. THE HELPING PROJECT is a service learning assignment intended to direct General Psychology students through the steps involved in leveraging their knowledge of psychological concepts for the good of humanity. In the initial step, students review sources and write a paper establishing their expertise on a research topic. In the succeeding steps, they develop and execute a plan to help a friend or family member that is derived from their newfound knowledge. Finally, they visually document their helping efforts and write a reflection paper that summarizes the outcome of the project and suggests future directions. This original assignment was successfully implemented in my Fall 2015 General Psychology courses.

Nancy Pennea

“There are three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.” This quote, attributable to Benjamin Disraeli and made popular by Mark Twain, is well known. I contend that it represents two unfortunate truths about the information age we live in. The first is that the beliefs of many are being manipulated through unscrupulous uses of data and statistical techniques. The second is that sentiments such as this quote have become so prevalent that there are just as many people who discount all statistics as smoke and mirrors. Through directed discussion, group activities, and a culminating group project, this lesson teaches students there is a different way to approach statistics. The correct use of statistical concepts taught earlier in the course are reinforced while students learn to ascertain whether statistical procedures observed in media have been used appropriately. The project that follows places student teams into four scenarios involving graphical displays, measures of central tendency, hypothesis testing, and linear regression, respectively. For each scenario students analyze data and apply statistical tools to produce two opposing outcomes. They explain why one of the outcomes is more valid. Each team constructs their project on their own page of a class wiki. The wiki contains resources and facilitates collaboration. My aim is that students leave my class as savvy users and consumers of statistics. No one should complete a statistics course without knowing when they are being lied to – and when they are not – by statistics.


Jeannette Sullivan

This lesson is Service Learning and marks the culmination of Intensive Career Exploration assignments. It follows up on the planned pursuit of a researched career by placing the student within a work environment, preferably in their career field. In keeping with Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle, learning takes place less as a transmission of knowledge but rather through the interaction of content and experience, each reinforcing the other. Students select a site where they will conduct five hours of Service Learning. This site must be approved in the Learning Contract, which stipulates that site selection should extend student’s knowledge and understanding of the environment and requirements of the selected career. Following on-site Service Learning, students submit a Learning Contract, Hour Log, Reflection Paper and present a PowerPoint in class. All the students benefit by broadening their understanding of every other student’s career pursuits, research, and the mission of the selected site.

Christopher Schmersahl

“Argumentation and Logic” teaches written and rhetorical skills through an emphasis on the classical concepts of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Students are taught argument through the analysis of television commercials, print ads, example essays, and PowerPoint lectures. After lesson delivery, students craft a written argument and visual argument. The written argument is work-shopped in class, submitted through Blackboard, and revised. As professor, I provide electronic feedback through Blackboard. During this process, students also craft visual arguments in the form of television commercials that include ethos, pathos, and logos as well as two visual literary devices. The video is planned by the students with instructor feedback that often uses a dialogue to prompt critical thought. Once the video clips have been completed, the instructor edits the videos. The student commercials are then screened, and the class collaboratively analyzes each ad. Finally, students must write a response to their project. The best student project is showcased on the college website via LibGuide (


Mike Sfiropoulos

This is Part 1 in a series of lessons entitled, “Edutainment: Learning English through Television”. The premise behind creating this supplemental series of lessons was to promote more engaging and entertaining ways to deliver instruction and connect the content to my students' lives and at the same time get my students thinking critically about the usage of the English language they are exposed to on television or other electronic media, such as hulu. This particular lesson aims to teach the frequently confused and misused subject/object pronouns specifically because they are often improperly used in real-life and on TV, which gives students the opportunity to practice higher order thinking by analyzing the language they hear for proper or improper usage according to what was taught in class. The lesson consists of a pre-lesson diagnostic assessment, a PowerPoint presentation with embedded scenes of TV shows, a practice handout, and two post-lesson assessments.

Matthew Klauza

We begin with a Powerpoint that shows students:
1) why Mark Twain was important.
2) several changes that Mark Twain made to the original manuscript of Huckleberry Finn in his drafting process.
As we examine each change, the students inductively analyze and interpret it, then write down their own hypothesis of why Twain made that change. We discuss the students’ hypotheses, exploring the reasons for the changes. Then, students apply this new knowledge to their own writing, analyzing it for ways they can follow Twain’s model to strengthen their writing to achieve the same goals. They label their changes with a number corresponding to one of Twain’s methods on the Powerpoint. Afterwards, students pair up to share their own changes, explaining their reasoning for those changes. Pairs report their findings back to the class (whole group discussion). Students turn in both their hypotheses and the changes on their drafts.


Magdala Ray

Based on Bernice McCarthy's 4MAT wheel, Supplemental Instruction's (SI) concept of test prediction, and Mark Taylor's recommendations for teaching millennials, this lesson plan allows students to enter into the experience of test taking, attend to its application in college, career and home life, learn the critical thinking skill of prediction, practice that knowledge and skill in a take-home test, and then apply the lesson to preparation for subsequent course tests, including the comprehensive final exam. This lesson plan is accomplished through self-assessment, an initial testing experience, an informative newsletter-style notes page, lecture, take-home test for practice, the creation of predicted final exam questions, and the final exam itself.

Nicholas Larocca

In “Building a Thesis,” students are introduced to the concept of the hypothesis in a persuasive research essay, which is an assignment similar to the work one does for a senior thesis, master’s thesis, or dissertation—if on a much smaller scale. The thesis in this assignment is usually a new concept: a working thesis that will be altered as ongoing research yields evidence to make some original sub-arguments untrue, others necessary for revision, and still others to be included that were not in the original thesis. So this assignment occurs early in the larger persuasive research essay project, and a multi-step, interactive, layered approach is necessary. The lessons in the course utilize my method of writing a research paper; a fair amount of creativity is required of students; because lessons include my voice, interactivity is promoted in the online classroom: students feel as though I am there, guiding them along, and tend to be more reactive to lessons than they are to those made by a publisher or other third-party. Because the series of lessons, working through a standard ENC 1102 curriculum, is custom-made, students feel their learning is maximized.


Karin St. Pierre

College defines critical thinking as “Using the skills to explore, evaluate, express, and engage in purposeful reasoning in order to reach sound conclusions, decisions, positions, and/or solutions." The objective of this lesson plan is to help students improve their critical thinking skills and willingness to think critically. This objective is in line with the Palm Beach State College Quality Enhancement Plan which focuses on teaching and assessing critical thinking in all programs. The lesson plan achieves this goal by requiring students to perform an in-depth analysis of one novel, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The assignments are divided into three stages: the pre-reading, during, and post-reading stage which take place during one 16-week semester.

 2011-2012 Award Recipients

David Duncan
Elizabeth Wilber

2010-2011 Award Recipients

2009-2010 Award Recipients
Patrick Tierney
Mindy Yale

2008-2009 Award Recipients
Marcie Pachter
Barry Russal

2007-2008 Award Recipients
Steve Konopacki
Nancy Levin

2006-2007 Award Recipients 
Nancy McDonald
Pat Johnson

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