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University of Missouri-Columbia professor awarded President’s Award for Innovative Teaching

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John Fougere

Chief Communications Officer

University Relations

Apr 09, 2014

Award recognizes outstanding faculty who employ novel and innovative teaching methods

COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri System Chief of Staff Bob Schwartz today awarded one of the UM System President’s Awards to Dorina Kosztin, teaching professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  

Schwartz — in front of students during Kosztin’s honors physics course — surprised Kosztin with the President’s Award for Innovative Teaching, which includes a $5,000 award. The award recognizes faculty who are outstanding teachers and who employ novel and innovative teaching methods to achieve success in student learning. The award marks the sixth of 11 to be presented in 2014.

The UM System President’s Awards are presented annually to faculty members across the four campuses of the University of Missouri System who have made exceptional contributions in advancing the mission of the university. 

President’s Award for Innovative Teaching

Dorina Kosztin, Ph.D.
Teaching Professor of Physics and Astronomy
University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Dorina Kosztin’s teaching style makes physics interesting, accessible and interactive for her students and the community. She took one of the most feared entry-level science courses offered at MU, introductory calculus-based physics, and made it into an extremely popular course. She completely flipped her classroom for the honors section of the course, and partially flipped it for the standard section. This allows students to review the lecture material online and use class time to participate in experiments, discussions and work problems.

“The flipped classes allowed me to improve my techniques in doing physics problems and my confidence during tests,” one student wrote. “Through her innovative teaching methods, I was able to better apply these concepts to everyday life and improve my own understanding of physics in the world.”

Kosztin has also developed one the most successful online courses of introductory physics in the country. Her innovative online course utilizes virtual laboratories to closely mimic experiments done in a normal classroom. She created these labs to capture the best of both worlds. To make the lab interactive, for example, there is an experiment in which the student uses a smart phone to capture video of a moving car then analyze the data. But online labs also offer flexibility in ways classrooms can’t. A simulation of a buoyancy experiment allows students to test different fluids at will, something not practical while performing it in person.

Kosztin has also done exceptional work in extending interest and knowledge in physics to the local and state communities. She created the Physics Open House, an event which provides hands-on physics activities for children in the community and garners more than 600 attendees each year. Undergraduate and high school students put on the “Physics Show” for children and their parents, demonstrating fun and imaginative ways physics can be used.

On the state level, Kosztin is a collaborator on A Time for Physics First, a program that helps high school teachers learn how to effectively teach physics and interest students in the subject. She co-wrote the classroom workbook for program and is an instructor of a month-long course for teachers during the summer.

Kosztin has brought many innovations to teaching in the MU Department of Physics and Astronomy, the community and the state. Her passion for teaching is felt broadly by many students across the university and beyond.