Each year, the Guarini School accepts nominations for the Graduate Student Teaching Award which recognizes the efforts and dedication of a graduate teaching assistant who demonstrates excellence in their role as an educator. Programs and departments are invited to submit letters of nomination to the Committee outlining achievements and accomplishments of their nominee(s), and the award is typically announced during the Investiture ceremonies and events of that given year.
Many of the nominees are not part of the graduating cohort and, as such, this year the award announcement has been delayed. In future years, this award will be announced and presented during Graduate Student Appreciation Week, in April.
The Guarini School is pleased to announce the 2022 Graduate Student Teaching Award recipient is Ethan Williams, a PhD student in the Physics and Astronomy program.
Ethan's excellence in teaching has previously been recognized by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL). In 2018, he received an award for Outstanding Excellence in Teaching after being nominated by an undergraduate student for his dedication to, not only teaching Physics 5, but also the inspiration he offered. Many of his students noted that his enthusiasm and support were instrumental in encouraging them to pursue majors in Physics.
Since 2018, Ethan has served as a teaching assistant for a range of undergraduate classes, always receiving outstanding reviews for his work from students in these courses. His nominators note his work on Physics 19 – a class with a significant lab portion. Ethan's ability to present the material in ways that help his students engage with the content in ways that are both meaningful and challenging proved to be outstanding. Professor Devin Walker wrote that Ethan is "the best teaching assistant I have seen. This also includes my time at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Washington."
Ethan takes a highly responsive approach to developing his students' learning. In his teaching statement he notes "that we teachers must continually ask ourselves, 'How should I adjust my role to not simply maintain relevance, but to capitalize on these resources and make my teaching more efficient and powerful?'" Ever mindful of his students' level of understanding, his teaching is calibrated to the individual's learning trajectory – encouraging them to challenge themselves, and always being available for support and discussion.
He is committed to innovative strategies that enhance student understanding and is a strong proponent of mentoring models that help students see themselves as effective learners and mentors themselves.
Ethan's advisor, Professor Chandrasekhar Ramanathan states that Ethan "has been a fabulous mentor for many undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research opportunities in physics. Many of these students were drawn to research after interacting with Ethan in introductory courses."
Ethan's enthusiasm for developing a love of physics, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in general, extends beyond his roles as a teaching assistant. He has been actively engaged in numerous outreach opportunities during his time at Dartmouth, including serving as an advisor for the Dartmouth Science Olympiad, and as a Graduate Mentor on the Dartmouth Rural STEM Educator Partnership, a $1.3 million Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
During his involvement on this collaboration that aims to increase engagement in STEM among middle and high school students from under-resourced, rural schools, Ethan both developed and taught content relating to climate change to local middle-school students. You can watch a video he created for this role as a SEPA Scientist HERE.
We are delighted and honored to recognize Ethan as recipient of the Guarini School Graduate Teaching Award for 2022 -- congratulations!