Almost 30 years ago, field service professor of mathematics, Teri Rysz, enrolled at UC as an undergraduate.
Almost 30 years ago, field service professor of mathematics, Teri Rysz, enrolled at UC as an undergraduate. Through the years she earned three degrees, including her EdD in 2004. She has been an adjunct for four years and describes herself as being “extremely thrilled at the prospect of finally becoming a full-time faculty member.”
“I feel so lucky to have fallen into this position. These people are wonderful and have been so supportive. I have worked so hard to get where I am, and I want to do my job well,” she says.
Rysz teaches undergraduate mathematics, coordinates the probability and statistics curriculum, and works with graduate students on improving their teaching skills. In addition to teaching the elementary probability and statistics sequence, she also helps new field service professors Mary Schuster and Paul Sontag by spending office hours in the Mathematics Learning Center, where students can walk in for mathematics help.
Her dissertation focused on and gave her greater understanding of statistics students. She learned through one-on-one observations that those who get good grades don’t always understand the concepts. For her study, “The Role of Meta-Cognition in Learning Probability and Statistics Concepts,” she interviewed students and asked them to explain “what was going on in their heads” as they tackled statistics problems.
By analyzing their responses, she concluded that “students who know their learning processes feel responsible for their own learning and are better able to explain concepts.” This leads her to believe that more explicit instruction in problem solving could improve success in students’ understanding of probability and statistics.
In coordinating the statistics curriculum, she ensures that professors are available to provide support for students as much as possible. Since she has “a strong interest in helping students who have trouble,” she tries to provide the tools they need to succeed. One of the tools is posting the office hours of other statistics instructors who can serve as resources beyond the professors to whom students are assigned. This means that if an instructor’s office hours are difficult for a student to attend, he or she is free to work with another who is available at a more convenient time. “I help other people’s students, and my students can go to other professors,” she notes.
Rysz previously taught junior high at St. Clement School. While there she realized she wanted to further her own education and left teaching to become a full-time student. She credits her family for “keeping her going” through her doctoratal program and teaching her a lot as she paid attention to her sons’ learning styles. “It would have been very easy to quit school to take care of my family, but now I’m so glad I had the opportunity and support to finish.”
Now that she has the stress of her dissertation behind her, Rysz adds, “I’ve been exercising and redeveloping my social life. Since I’m done with my paper, I can have a real life again!” Her new career as professor at UC will include helping students earn degrees and researching the most effective ways to teach and support them.
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