by Ellen Bombella, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications Service
One of Andy VanLoocke's biggest accomplishments has been creating Global Agriculture in a Changing World, a course he created when he came to Iowa State.
"I wanted to create a course that would tell people what agronomy is about and about the pressing issues facing our growing population," said VanLoocke, assistant professor in agronomy. "I want to teach students the basic processes and underlying biology, math and physics to appreciate what the headlines are telling them."
VanLoocke received the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Early Teaching Award. He said teachers need to listen.
"I ask, they answer and I listen. The most important thing to do is to always listen," VanLoocke said.
After giving students their first exam, he asks them to fill out a feedback form, which includes self-reflection and suggestions for course improvements.
"It takes a really long time for me to read all of them, but I learn a lot and end up making changes along the way," VanLoocke said.
He relies on his teaching assistant, Kelsie Ferin, when it comes to implementing changes.
"She has to go through and change things like recreating homework assignments," VanLoocke said. "It takes her hours and hours, but she's good at what she does."
VanLoocke said receiving the award means a lot to him, but it all comes back to putting students first.
"It means a lot to me to know that students who are taking my class may hold influential positions someday, so knowing they took my class and I get to contribute to that success means a lot," he said. "I would take 100 student success stories over one award any day."
VanLooke received his bachelor's degree in atmospheric science in 2007 from Ohio State University. He received his master's degree in 2009 and his Ph.D. in atmospheric science in 2012 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will present awards to faculty and staff on March 8 at its Spring-Semester Convocation and Awards Program in the Memorial Union.