Kent State Art Education Professor Robin Vande Zande Earns Distinguished Teaching Award | e-Inside | Kent State University

Kent State Art Education Professor Robin Vande Zande Earns Distinguished Teaching Award

A passion for education, a curious nature and need for empathy are the elements Robin Vande Zande, Ph.D., associate professor of art education at Kent State University, brings to the classroom that has a lasting – and award-winning impact – on her students.

Dr. Vande Zande is one of three recipients of the 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award, recognizing those who demonstrate extraordinary teaching in the classroom and a devotion to touching the lives of students.

The Distinguished Teaching Award is presented annually to full-time tenured and tenure-track professors who have taught at Kent State for a minimum of seven years. The award, which is sponsored by the Kent State Alumni Association, is the university’s most prestigious honor in teaching for full-time tenured and tenure-track professors.

“The appreciation that students nominated me and wrote letters for me in recognition of things they claim I’ve done for them is my favorite part about receiving this award,” Dr. Vande Zande says. “There is no better reward for a teacher than to think you have actually impacted someone’s life.”

Dr. Vande Zande has been teaching at Kent State for 16 years and centers her teaching on design education.

“What I’m trying to teach through design education is problem-solving, empathy, which I think we need more of now, creative thinking and communication,” Dr. Vande Zande says. “Collaborating and working together is really important in the design process.”

Dr. Vande Zande has an infectious and inspiring enthusiasm for design education, writes Holly Spooner, Kent State graduate student and one of Dr. Vande Zande’s nominators, in her nomination letter.

“Throughout the graduate-level classes with Dr. Vande Zande, I was constantly challenged by her resources and materials to expand my thinking and reflect on my own practices,” Ms. Spooner says. “The most admiring quality of Dr. Vande Zande during these times was her passion to guide and provoke my reasoning with insightful questioning.”    

Asking questions allows students to better understand the situation by coming to a conclusion based on what they have understood and lived through, says Dr. Vande Zande. A lot of what they really learn is what students apply through their own experiences.

“Instead of giving me a direct answer to all my constant questions, she would provide more clarification through some questioning of her own,” Ms. Spooner says. “Dr. Vande Zande kept me in the driver’s seat of my own learning and research.”

Recipients and finalists of the Distinguished Teaching Award were formally honored on Oct. 20 at the University Teaching Council conference luncheon, which was held in the Kent Student Center Ballroom.

“I love learning as much as being a teacher, and I will be forever grateful to Dr. Vande Zande for deepening my love of both,” Ms. Spooner says.