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Van Baalen-Wood Receives Hollon Family Award

May 2, 2011
Meg Van Baalen-Wood teaches online writing courses through the UW Outreach School. (UW Photo)

Getting students to think on their own is what makes Meg Van Baalen-Wood stand out as a quality instructor -- even though she may not be face-to-face with them throughout the year.

Van Baalen-Wood, an academic professional lecturer in the UW Department of English, teaches online writing courses through the UW Outreach School. Department of English faculty and students praise her high qualifications and teaching methods.

Those accolades have earned her the Hollon Family Award for Teaching Excellence in Off-campus Programs.

"Meg's excellence in teaching distance courses is respected and honored among her colleagues," says Sandra Clark, Department of English assistant chair. "Meg is always revolutionizing and impressing us about what, in fact, constitutes this kind of teaching. Her willingness to patiently explain the procedures to a faculty that has limited education about the process enlightens and energizes us."

Another colleague notes the importance of those who devote their talents to teaching online.

"Meg's work as a teacher and restless thinker in her online courses stand on its own merits," says Michael Knievel, English associate professor. "Her work is, in many ways, the backbone of the Department of English's commitment to outreach, and her students benefit every day from her intelligence, experience, compassion and generosity."

UW's Outreach Credit Programs online coordinator says Van Baalen-Woods understands the needs of students who are not physically on campus.

"Meg understands the challenges confronted by outreach students," says Larry Jansen. "She is supportive and accommodating, while still requiring the same academic rigor and learning outcomes expected in any section of this class."

But the biggest testimonials about Van Baalen-Wood's teaching skills are provided by her students.

"Taking an online class was a first for me and it was challenging. I was very satisfied with the promptness in which she posted answers to questions and assignments," one student wrote. "I felt that she provided a great deal of direction for the class to follow and good structure which was important for me being a first time online class taker."

Another student wrote that Van Baalen-Wood's course was difficult, but she made it possible for her to understand and complete the class.

"She challenged and pushed you to the limit, in a good way, so you came out of the course with a deeper intellectual understanding of technical writing in the profession," the student says. "Meg made you think on your own. UW should be honored to have an instructor that is not just there so you make a grade, but to actually make one learn from the experience in the class."

Van Baalen-Wood received her B.A. (1983) in humanities/fine arts and M.A. (2003) in interdisciplinary studies -- both degrees from UW.

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