Professor Julie Kregenow’s primary goal in the classroom is to demystify math and science for her students. Recognizing that many of the undergraduates she works with are nonscience majors, her courses focus on helping students understand the process of science — gathering evidence, making predictions, and constantly testing those predictions.
Since her course is often the last exposure students will have to quantitative science, Professor Kregenow seeks to positively affect attitudes about science and math that her students will pass on to the next generation. This often requires flexibility in the classroom:
“The way that I learned best and what motivated me won’t necessarily work for them, so I have to be ready to use a different approach. Probably multiple different approaches.”
For Professor Kregenow, this also means making a conscious choice to cover less material in each course. Rather than racing through 20 topics, she measures success in-depth and skill development of select topics each semester.
Another key part of Professor Kregenow’s teaching philosophy is to be transparent with her students about her methods in the classroom. From classroom exercises to homework structure to test questions, she does her best to demonstrate that no choice is arbitrary, but rather thoughtfully made to create the best learning opportunity possible.
Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, Professor Kregenow has continued to innovate, creating new ways for students to participate during class time and providing opportunities for flexibility and autonomy. In return, she found her students to be the most engaged, positive, and enthusiastic cohorts in recent memory.
Professor Kregenow’s student-centered approach has a clear impact:
In her commitment to lifelong learning, Professor Kregenow practices what she preaches and encourages her colleagues to do the same. She is adamant that the learning experience should be a dynamic interaction, rather than a one-way transfer of information. She is an expert in active learning techniques such as voting cards, think-pair-share, and two-stage testing.
Professor Kregenow is a member of the Evidence-Based Teaching Academy (EBTA) planning team and has served as an EBTA facilitator since its inception in 2018. During EBTA trainings, faculty explore research-proven methods for guiding student learning and redesign course units with a student-centered perspective.
She also serves as a facilitator for the New Faculty Orientation workshop hosted by the Center for Excellence in Science Education which introduces new faculty members to our science education learning community and shares resources and introduces educational initiatives.
Excellence in Science Teaching and Learning
Professor Kregenow’s teaching philosophy has made a significant impact on the broader Penn State community. Most recently, she received the 2021 George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, which honors excellence in teaching at the undergraduate level. In 2019, she received the C.I. Noll for Teaching Excellence Award, the highest honor for undergraduate teaching in the college.