Buchanan awarded C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Patricia M. Buchanan, senior instructor in statistics at Penn State, will be presented with the 2017 C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching by the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society during an event held on the University Park campus on Oct. 6.

Instituted in 1972 and named in honor of Clarence I. Noll, dean of the college from 1965 to 1971, the award is the highest honor for undergraduate teaching in the college. Students, faculty members, and alumni nominate outstanding faculty members who best exemplify the key characteristics of a Penn State educator, and a committee of students selects the award winners from the group of nominees.

“I believe that everyone has the capacity to learn,” said Buchanan, who uses a variety of approaches to facilitate meaningful student learning both inside and outside of the classroom. She promotes peer-learning whenever possible, encouraging group work in class and in office hours. Buchanan is particularly passionate about the introductory course Statistics 200, through which she has taught 25,880 students since she began teaching the course in 1984. In 2001, she and several of her colleagues received the Schreyer Institute Collaborative Award by the Penn State Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning for their collaborative work to redesign the course, which was transformed from a traditional classroom-and-lecture format to a highly interactive, technology-based class that encourages group activities and team learning.

“I have devoted so much time and energy to this introductory course because it gives me the best opportunity to impact students who are mostly from nontechnical majors and will only take one statistics course while at Penn State,” said Buchanan.

Buchanan sets high, but achievable, standards. One student credited her success in Statistics 200 to Buchanan’s dedication to her students. “Although the course was really tough, she really worked with me to make sure that I understood the material," said the student.

Buchanan’s commitment to teaching has been recognized in the past with the Penn State First-Year Experience Faculty Recognition Award in 2005 and 2012 and the Penn State Panhellenic Council Teaching Award for Women in 1991 and 1993. Buchanan has given talks on teaching approaches at numerous conferences across the country and participated in well over one hundred workshops, short courses, events and webinars to improve teaching and learning.

Buchanan began teaching at Penn State as a graduate student instructor in 1984. She became an instructor in 1988 and a senior instructor in 2009. Buchanan earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and chemistry at Lock Haven University in 1978 and master’s degrees in in physiology and statistics at Penn State in 1987 and 1988.

Last Updated October 04, 2017