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Helping students grow

Posted noon Thursday, May 18, 2023

Marisa Barbknecht, a teaching professor in the Microbiology Department, is one of seven UWL faculty to earn a 2023 Eagle Teaching Excellence Award.

Marisa Barbknecht wins 2023 Eagle Teaching Excellence Award 

UW-La Crosse is home to many outstanding instructors who make a difference in students’ lives inside and outside the classroom. This year, UWL’s Provost Office received hundreds of nominations from students hoping to recognize their favorite faculty. From these nominations, a university committee selected seven faculty to receive 2023 Eagle Teaching Excellence Awards. The winners will be honored during Chancellor Joe Gow’s opening remarks for the fall semester. 

They are: 

This is the first of seven stories highlighting the winners. 

Marisa Barbknecht, Microbiology 

Started at UWL: 2009 

Courses: I teach introductory microbiology lectures and labs in the Department of Microbiology.   

Background: Shortly after I was hired, someone used the term “lifer” to describe academic staff who earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees at UWL before accepting a position to work here, too. I am a lifer. I earned my microbiology bachelor's degree in 2006 and my Biology master's degree in 2009, working for about a year as a laboratory research assistant in Dr. Michael Hoffman's Health Science Center virology laboratory. In graduate school, I taught introductory labs for the Department of Biology, where I learned many valuable teaching skills from my peers (especially Elisabeth Paluch), mentor (Faye Ellis) and additional biology and microbiology faculty, many who have been honored with this same award. 

Favorite part of teaching: GRADING! I am kidding. It would have to be witnessing student growth. It of course comes in the form of those “aha” moments, when concepts and skills finally click and become more than a factoid to memorize and parrot back. But it's also the growth I see in a student's time management and organizational and communication skills. However, growth also comes in the form of finally getting the courage to speak up during class, setting up that first (second, and third) office visit to review content, trying a different way of studying, having that difficult group conversation, seeking help from campus resources, and even dropping a course. When I started in this position, I thought my job was just about delivering the science content I loved in an organized and interesting manner and grading fairly. As the years have gone by, I realized it is so much more.    


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