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Michelle Chamberlin Receives Ellbogen Classroom Teaching Award at UW

June 22, 2020
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Michelle Chamberlin

Michelle Chamberlin, who has been teaching at the University of Wyoming since 2007, has built a stellar reputation, not only for teaching, but also for her passion for enabling her students and the care that she takes in developing and delivering her courses.

She is among three recipients of the John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award, established in 1977 by businessman John P. “Jack” Ellbogen, to “foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW.” Other Ellbogen winners are Kate Northrop, an associate professor in the Department of Visual and Literary Arts, and Jim Ward, a senior lecturer in the Department of Computer Science.

This past year, Chamberlin, an associate professor of mathematics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, taught courses that included “Foundations of Geometry,” “Secondary School on Campus” and “Data, Probability and Algebra for Elementary School Teachers.”

She draws high praise among her colleagues in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

“Michelle ranks among the best classroom teachers in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics,” says longtime mathematics Professor Myron Allen. “In addition, she is one of UW’s finest teachers, and her contributions to the university’s teaching mission extend much further than the classroom.”

Chamberlin’s expertise focuses on mathematics education, overseeing and teaching courses aimed at future teachers. Among the most challenging of the courses she teaches are those designed for future elementary school teachers, many of whom consider mathematics to be the most intimidating part of their required curriculum, Allen adds.

“Michelle does a superb job with these courses, connecting the more conceptual -- and difficult -- parts of the material with the mathematics that the students will be teaching during their careers,” he says. “One student’s remarks neatly encapsulate her knack for drawing this connection.”

“Dr. Chamberlin is the best math professor I have ever had, by far. She is the only person who takes the time to match the course up with elementary education,” the student stated. “Dr. Chamberlin puts us in the shoes of our students and challenges us to think critically. She also shows us that there is more than one way to solve everything. Validating different methods and using manipulatives are her strong suits.”

Her teaching style drew praise from her students this past year.

“I would say that Dr. Chamberlin was one of the best, if not THE best, math professors I have had at the university, thus far,” one student wrote in a teaching evaluation. “She makes the material easy to understand, and she provides an interactive classroom setup. As a secondary mathematics education major, I look to more than just the material but the way she teaches because I hope to somewhat resemble her in my classroom someday.”

Mathematics Professor Eric Moorhouse echoes all those sentiments.

“In her primary role -- the training of our mathematics education students -- Michelle is not the first in my 29 years of experience at UW, but she stands above her predecessors in that role as clearly more effective, and having earned a degree of respect among her departmental colleagues surpassing that of her predecessors,” he says.

Chamberlin received her bachelor’s degree (1997) in mathematics and a master’s degree (1999) in mathematics, with an outside specialization in education, both from Colorado State University; and a doctoral degree (2002) in mathematics education, with an emphasis in curriculum instruction, from Purdue University.

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