2019 McMurtry Lecture to highlight 'Teaching by Listening'

Jessica Hallman
October 23, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jeff Rimland, assistant teaching professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, will present the college’s annual George McMurtry Lecture, at 12:15 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31, in E202 Westgate Building. Rimland is the recipient of the college’s 2019 George J. McMurtry Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award, which recognizes IST faculty members who consistently provide an exceptional learning environment.

Jeff Rimland

Jeff Rimland

IMAGE: Provided

In his talk, titled “Teaching by Listening,” Rimland will discuss the ways that effective teaching can be accomplished by approaching it as a listening-first endeavor instead of one focused primarily on delivery.

“There’s a tendency for teachers to feel like we are the source of all information on a topic, and our job is to dump that information into our students’ brains,” said Rimland. “It’s been my experience both teaching and in the professional software world that outcomes are better when the process emphasizes listening to the needs of those that you are working with and striving to move together in the right direction. This way of thinking leads to much better outcomes than just dumping information onto people.”

Rimland explained that teachers have several sources to which they should regularly listen. First, students are the primary source of information that should guide the teaching process. 

“They are experts at giving feedback if we are willing to listen,” said Rimland. 

Second, professional programmers and those in hiring positions at technical companies can provide great insight that helps teachers fine-tune their curriculum to meet current and future needs of industry.  Finally, listening to other faculty members – especially those who have taught the course previously – can be used to guide the instruction process.

“I’d love for people to leave my talk with some thoughts on how listening can help drive, guide and motivate the learning process – and other areas of life as well,” said Rimland. "This is one way that teachers can be more in tune with the needs of students and industry, instead of just making assumptions about what they think is best for everyone.”

Rimland has worked in the College of IST since 2009, when he started as a staff software engineer. He went on to receive his doctoral degree from the college in 2013, and then accepted a full-time faculty research position before taking on his current role.

“The biggest reason I do what I do is to make a difference for students in a positive way,” he said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to.”

The George J. McMurtry Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Learning Award is named for the former associate dean of the College of Engineering who was instrumental in the founding of the College of IST. The award highlights recipients’ innovative teaching, commitment to learning and creative interface in the classroom or in online courses they teach. Rimland is the 18th College of IST faculty member to receive the award since 2001.

“Jeff has consistently demonstrated his commitment to teaching and learning both within and beyond the College of IST community,” said Steven Haynes, teaching professor of IST, in his nomination letter. “I know from direct experience that he is constantly exploring new ways to enrich the classroom experiences of our students."

Last Updated October 23, 2019