Adena Calden, a Senior Lecturer II with the College of Natural Sciences's Department of Mathematics and Statistics, was recently announced as a recipient of the 2023-24 Faculty Distinguished Teaching Awards by the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Since 1961, the University of Massachusetts has bestowed this esteemed honor upon educators who exhibit outstanding teaching excellence at the highest institutional level. Unique among campus recognitions, the Distinguished Teaching Award is initiated by students, making it a particularly coveted accolade. This year, the review committees—comprising past award winners—remarked on the extraordinary quality of the nominees, highlighting the exceptional caliber of this year’s honorees amidst a remarkably competitive field.

Woman with a black coat in front of  window
Adena Calden, Senior Lecturer II in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Adena Calden is a past recipient of the College of Natural Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award, the Residential First Year Experience Award, and the Student Choice Award. She has also been a fellow in the CTL Teaching for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (TIDE) program, IMPACT, Innovate, and Team-Based Learning programs.

Calden teaches large lecture calculus classes for students in management and life sciences and smaller courses, including Junior Year Writing, and developed the first University Without Walls courses in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In her teaching, she focuses on fostering her students’ problem-solving skills through providing relevant examples and building their confidence in a supportive classroom community.

“Mathematics often comes with a lot of expectations, emotions, and power, but anyone can become a better problem solver and mathematics is simply a tool to support this,” Calden says. In particular, she guides students to develop their mathematical intuition through modeling her own thinking and encouraging students to practice with their peers.

One student shared that Calden worked to create “an atmosphere of play and exploration, which she cultivated through multidisciplinary readings, discussions, and the dedication of multiple class periods to solving mathematical problems collaboratively.” As another student noted, her teaching approach made clear “that their exploratory ideas would be embraced rather than dismissed.”

This story was originally published by the UMass News Office.

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