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University of Wisconsin - Madison College of Engineering
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  5. Pam Kreeger

 

The 2013 James G. Woodburn Award
for Excellence in Teaching

 

Pam Kreeger.

Pam Kreeger
Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering Assistant Professor Pamela Kreeger has demonstrated a ceaseless drive improve the ways she teaches her students, trying new methods and incorporating student comments to strengthen her courses each semester. Sometimes, the improvements are simple but effective: Kreeger posts notes from her Introduction to Tissue Engineering (BME 510) lectures online, but redacts key facts students must fill in during lecture. Students have enough of the raw information to allow more free-flowing discussion—but not so much information that they don’t need to actively listen and engage with the material to complete their notes.

Kreeger’s other instructional innovations are even grander in scope. In Introduction to Systems Biology (BME 556) an original course that leverages her specific research expertise, Kreeger has adopted a flexible syllabus that allows students to pursue topics of their choosing. Kreeger invited feedback from students on the course design and integrated their suggestions. She also applied a “teaching-as-research” model to the course, collaborating with a biomedical engineering graduate student to investigate the impact that giving students that level of agency has on learning. “Her class was the first class where I had any latitude in deciding what we would cover during the semester,” says chemical and biological engineering senior Mehmet Badur. “I felt like this customization not only enhanced my interest in the class but also my learning because I had a better grasp of where the material was going and how I could connect topics across modules.”

That pragmatic approach also has delivered Kreeger’s undergraduate students a wealth of research experiences. As part of their studies, students gain experience writing formal hypotheses and grant proposals, and working with real-world data in collaborative problem solving environments. She also strives to involve undergraduate students in research, inviting 18 UW-Madison students to contribute to projects in her own lab.

The value of those experiences isn’t lost on her students. “Professor Kreeger did an excellent job of leading a course targeted at teaching undergraduate students essential lab techniques for a marketable skill set and a faster integration into graduate research,” says Jeremy Glynn, a biomedical engineering alumnus currently pursuing a PhD at Oregon Health and Science University.

By marrying innovative instructional techniques with as many practical research experiences as possible, Kreeger sets high standards and is able to motivate students to push themselves and meet those standards, says Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Kristyn Masters. “I have seen firsthand how the students respect Pam and genuinely appreciate how much she has helped them to learn,” she says.