KTH Teacher of the Year finds the connections
Job satisfaction. Knowledge put into perspective. And so it should be clear for the students what is important in the course. This is Olof Ramström’s recipe for success in his chemistry teaching. Clearly this is important for KTH’s students which this year provided him with the distinction of being the Teacher of the Year.
“It is fantastic to receive this sort of recognition from the students. It is great fun to receive this prize,” says Olof Ramström, who is a Professor of supramolecular chemistry at the School of Chemistry.
He teaches organic chemistry which is reputed to be an extremely heavy and difficult course. There is a lot of material to be studied and the students can easily get lost in the detail. It is difficult for them to get a decent overview of the subject, Olof Ramström believes.
But it is precisely this ability to lift the perspective that is emphasised in the motivation by the student body for him to receive the prize as Teacher of the Year 2009. “It is easy for students to follow his teaching as he often indicates what is important. The students are able to see a common thread throughout the education”, among other things.
Olof Ramström says that the teachers on the department for organic chemistry are very much aware of trying to place the subject in the right context:
“We try to find common interfaces with other courses, both those that have been studied previously during the education and those that are running parallel for the students. We emphasise examples which clearly show the connections within the programme. Clearly this has been appreciated by the students,” he says.
Another of his consuming passions is being well organised in his teaching and quickly reaching out with important information to the students. As a result he makes great use of the web platform Bilda which according to his students, he uses in an exemplary manner. “His Bilda page is like a living organism”, they write, in their motivation.
“When Bilda works as it should, it is an extremely efficient tool. The information reaches out to the students quickly and as a teacher, you can publish all the information that is actually required. We usually provide an update for the students for example as to how they have fared during the course, which is extremely valuable for them.
But when it comes to the crunch, it is nevertheless job satisfaction that determines whether or not you succeed as a teacher, he states.
“You have to like the subject and you have to enjoy teaching; and you must also be keenly aware of course, of student input, so that they feel they have room for influence.
The latter has, among other things, led to the organic chemistry teachers moving the various parts of the course around a little. The chemistry students’ evaluations showed that some parts of the course such as theory, presentations, lectures and laboratory experiments did not always come in the right order.
“But we have tried to correct that now. For instance, the theoretical part of the course should not be dealt with until the exercises have been taken care of in a practical sense in the laboratory experiments.
The challenge prize, for the Teacher of the Year and a scholarship of SEK 25,000 comes from Ericsson.