Teacher of the Week - Mary Bedell

Mary Bedell

Associate Professor,  Department of Genetics

“Every semester, try to make the course a little bit better than in previous semesters.” 

The Center for Teaching and Learning recognizes Mary Bedell as CTL Teacher of the Week. Bedell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Genetics in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

“Isn’t that the coolest thing you’ve ever heard?” This question is a regular refrain in Dr. Mary Bedell’s classroom as she leads her students through the world of genetics. Knowing that a bored instructor is not likely to inspire students to engage in active learning, Dr. Bedell makes it a point to be excited about her subject. Luckily, no exaggeration is required – she simply allows her genuine passion and enthusiasm for genetics to shine through. The result is deeper engagement among her students, and for some, it can be truly life changing. As Julie Howell recalls, “Dr. Bedell’s passion for the subjects she teaches is evident in her teaching and contagious to her students. Her intro genetics class inspired me to major in genetics and look into careers in that field.” Howell, who plans to become a genetic counselor, is just one of many students who have found a deep interest in genetics while studying under Dr. Bedell.

With a classroom full of engaged students, Dr. Bedell can work toward the ultimate goal of equipping them with the tools for success. When she tells them up-front that the class will require a great deal of effort, she immediately assuages any nervousness by clearly outlining what they will be expected to learn. Her lecture slides, which she labors over meticulously, are provided to the students before class. This allows them to become familiar with the subject beforehand and to take more effective notes. Frequent review sessions are held during the semester, which include helpful study tips. Outside of class, Dr. Bedell makes herself available for one-on-one meetings where students can ask for research guidance or help with difficult concepts.

Perhaps the most important tool that Dr. Bedell seeks to give to her students is the ability to think critically about concepts and use them for practical applications. By connecting her lectures back to previous topics discussed in the class., she prompts her students to think about how the new material relates to their existing knowledge. When complex problems are encountered, she emphasizes breaking them down into simpler components and using deductive reasoning to systematically work through them. By providing her students with these skills, Dr. Bedell creates an environment where students can feel confident about the learning process. Her student, Sehar Ali confirms, saying “Because of Dr. Bedell’s guidance, I have become a more confident student who is unafraid to ask questions and inquire into subjects that I would have normally been intimidated by.” By helping her students find skills and confidence which they can carry with them into future classes and endeavors, Dr. Bedell proves herself to be a truly effective and exemplary teacher.

See Bedell’s departmental profile: http://www.genetics.uga.edu/directory/mary-bedell