2014 Faculty Awards: A Q&A with Hollylynne S. Lee

May 5, 2014
By Bill Krueger

The Alumni Association is honoring 26 NC State professors with the 2014 Faculty Awards for their outstanding work in the classroom, in the laboratory and in the field. We talked (via email) with some of the recipients about their work and the keys to being a successful professor.

faculty-leeToday we’re visiting with Hollylynne S. Lee, a professor of mathematics education and graduate program coordinator for mathematics education. Lee is one of eight professors being recognized with Outstanding Teaching Awards.

What prompted you to become a professor? I have always considered myself as a designer of opportunities, experiences and environments for learning mathematics and statistics. As a former middle and high school mathematics teacher, I was fascinated by the ways my students thought about mathematical ideas. I was invigorated by the challenges of designing just the “right” learning moments to further my students’ understanding of a mathematical idea. My initial aim for pursuing advanced degrees and transitioning from a public school teacher to a professor was that I could potentially impact the lives of many more students as an educational researcher and teacher educator in mathematics education. As a professor, I am able to prepare teachers and educational researchers who can also design those learning experiences for the betterment of mathematics and statistics education.

What are the keys to being a successful professor? My teaching at NC State has always been tightly connected with my work as an educational researcher and designer. Educational design always starts with understanding your learners and the content and processes you want them to learn. To me, being a successful professor means approaching teaching as an opportunity to apply my understandings of cutting edge research, technologies, and pedagogies to create learning experiences for students that will empower them in their careers. Every pedagogical decision I make is designed to enhance the development of a community of learners that can work together  to investigate problems, communicate results, and design their own learning tools and tasks for others.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a professor? To me, a big success is when my students not only learn the content of the course, but walk away thinking about how to create learning environments and experiences for others. Success goes back to my original goals of impacting more students.There is huge satisfaction in seeing my undergraduate students become dedicated mathematics teachers that make a difference in the lives of students. Many of my graduate students advance their pedagogies for students’ learning of mathematics and statistics and apply those in their classrooms in K-12 and community college settings, as well as in leadership positions across the state. There is also huge satisfaction when PhD students, most of whom were former K-12 mathematics teachers, engage in educational research and development of curricula and tools, and establish there own productive careers as mathematics teacher educators and researchers.

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