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Grad Focus

Dana Horgen: Outstanding Graduate Instructor SET-ting the Way

For many students, CHE 3238: Organic Chemistry is notorious for its difficulty amongst majors and non-majors alike. Labs take several hours each week to prepare, and the course can be grueling. One instructor, Dana Horgen, has found a way to make it fun.

Horgen is a graduate student and a doctoral candidate in Baylor's Biochemistry program. She holds a teaching assistantship in the department, and Horgen's love and interest for her field carries over into her classrooms. Recently, Horgen was recognized as one of Baylor's Outstanding Graduate Instructors.

"Her enthusiasm for the subject rubbed off on me throughout the semester," Emily Bertram says, "I actually enjoyed coming to lab twice a week."

Horgen's teaching skills are not only impressing students, but her faculty mentors as well.

"Of the hundreds of graduate students I have known," Dr. Charles Garner says, "Only one other has rivaled Dana Horgen in terms of preparation for teaching and having natural talent for it."

In fact, due to her superlative performance, two years ago Horgen earned the Chemistry department's Outstanding Teaching Assistant award. That award, as well as her teaching both the organic lab and the selective advanced organic lab, prepared her for her most recent award.

The praise from her students goes on and on. But, Horgen is modest when she considers her accomplishments. She is quick to credit to the Baylor Graduate School's support - the Seminars for Excellence in Teaching (SET) and many of the other opportunities the Graduate School provides for professional growth.

"The teaching resources that I have taken advantage of at Baylor like the SET Seminars, PROFF workshops, EDA 6302 'Teaching and Learning in Higher Education,' small group discussions with the Cherry Award winner and the TeaCHE program made me aware of the value of certain aspects of teaching," Horgen says.

"The seminars and workshops taught me the value of a good syllabus and the benefit of reflecting on your evaluations at the end of each semester," Horgen says. "The EDA class was insightful because it took me to a world that I had never really experienced before; which is the world of pedagogy. And working with Dr. Brian Coppola, the Cherry award winner for Great Teaching, taught me how to apply educational concepts directly to my discipline."

Horgen has attended an impressive eight teaching seminars since arriving at Baylor, which she directly attributes to her success as a graduate instructor.

"For all of the students in my classes," Horgen says, "Whether they are chemistry majors or not, my goal is to engage them in such a way that they will become confident in their ability to work through and solve complex problems."

To learn more about Baylor's numerous teaching resources for graduate students, click here and follow the Red line for professional development.