Teaching and Learning Spotlight: Rebecca Hutchinson

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Rebecca Hutchinson

LIFE@OSU and the Center for Teaching and Learning are introducing a new semi-monthly series highlighting the stories of successful teaching on campus. Faculty featured in the series have all utilized CTL resources in order to better enhance their classroom experiences. For more information about CTL: http://ctl.oregonstate.edu/

This month’s featured faculty member is Rebecca Hutchinson, assistant professor with the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

What (or who) drew you to teaching? 

My teaching career actually started in high school when I started offering piano lessons to children. My first college course (taken while in high school) was Piano Pedagogy, which was taught by the professor I took individual piano lessons from as well. I continued giving lessons through the first part of college and enjoyed it immensely. My piano teacher and my teaching experiences were definitely an inspiration for things to come. I also served as a teaching assistant in both undergrad and graduate school, which I also found rewarding.

In what ways has CTL supported the evolution of your teaching?

Of course, teaching one-on-one piano lessons is quite different from teaching larger courses at a university. As a postdoc at Oregon State, I took a short course on teaching from the CTL covering syllabus development, the classroom environment, evaluation strategies, and more. It was an excellent resource going into my first experience as an independent instructor. I have continued to connect with people at the CTL to help develop my skills, which have been helpful both for brainstorming pedagogical strategies and also for developing the confidence to experiment in the classroom.

What do you find most satisfying about teaching?

It’s so much fun to see the students get excited about the course material. The best days are when lots of students are raising their hands with questions, when they’re getting into discussions about the material with each other, and when we’re skipping around my lecture plans to follow their lead. Of course, not all days are that exciting, but those days push me to keep working to create the kind of learning environment where those kinds of days show up more frequently.

From a former student:

“This was a great course. Dr. Hutchinson is one of the best instructors I have had at Oregon State. She created a welcoming environment that made many people participate. She worked to learn every students name and had a strong interest in students learning and success. I personally became much more interested in the class because of the interesting way it was taught. Guest lectures were very interesting and gave a good example of the field currently. I also liked how we took the time to work through problems in class. This does not happen often in classes and I found it to be very helpful in me understanding the material. Thank you!”

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