Teacher of the Week - Emma Laing
Associate Research Scientist, Foods and Nutrition Department of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences
“Dr. Laing has been the most impactful teacher...”
The Center for Teaching and Learning recognizes Emma Laing as CTL Teacher of the Week. Laing is an Associate Research Scientist in the Foods and Nutrition Department of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Dr. Emma Laing believes teaching students at UGA is an absolute privilege. She attributes her success to respecting diverse talents and ways of learning. She takes students’ comments to heart and shows them that she cares not only about the material that is being discussed but also how they are learning the material. Most importantly, she wants to be sure the way that she teaches is reaching them, so she asks for student feedback at least twice during the semester before the formal instructor evaluations. Laing notes this feedback is helpful because if there are changes that can be made to set the tone for a fun and positive semester that is conducive to learning, then she tries and to go above and beyond to make those changes.
A favorite instructional strategy of Dr. Laing’s has been the “Picture of Health” extra credit project. This project engages students on an individual level, as students have the opportunity to share a photo and speak about what “healthy” means to them. In a relatively large class, these stories highlight diversity, challenge biases, and bring classmates who have common interests closer together. Though she enjoys hearing from the students, the main objective is for them to connect with one another. Having this opportunity to express themselves tends to make them feel more comfortable speaking up in class, starting discussions, or asking questions. By the same token, students appreciate if Dr. Laing has anecdotes or similar stories to add to theirs. She tells them about her hobbies, why she loves her field, and what her research projects entail.
Another strategy Dr. Laing employs is to make clear to students that she cares about their successes both during the semester and beyond. Several students have returned to her classes in subsequent semesters to gain experience lecturing in front of their peers. Not everyone has the chance to guest lecture for a college-level class, so she invites former students to take advantage of this opportunity under her direction. She also shares “PSAs” or “In the News” segments throughout each class. Students appreciate brief media highlights showing the latest research in nutrition or being connected to on-campus/local events or job/volunteer opportunities that they might not necessarily encounter on their own.
Student Alisha Lewis describes Dr. Laing’s impact on her life, "Dr. Laing is a wonderful person, and she went beyond her duties to help me land two internship opportunities this past summer semester. She helped me connect with people in the nutrition industry and overall helped by opening doors for me in my field. She also made teaching exciting.” Another student, Annie Ladisic adds, “Dr. Laing has been the most impactful teacher I've had in my past three years at UGA by far. She took interest in all of her students' lives. It is because of Dr. Laing that I stuck with my major because she helped me realize there are so many exciting jobs and opportunities in nutrition science that I too could feel passionately about. Dr. Laing made an enormous effort to get everyone involved in the Athens community, and not only in the nutrition and sports related events. It was through her relentless efforts to educate us on what was happening in our area that we were all able to become involved in unique organizations that we otherwise would not have even known existed.”
See Laing’s departmental biography: http://www.fcs.uga.edu/people/bio/emonk