Kent State Nursing Professor Receives Outstanding Teaching Award

By combining an enthusiastic personality, relevant real-world experience and entertaining pop culture videos, Kent State University’s Mary Bacha has become a favorite among students in the College of Nursing and was named one of this year’s Outstanding Teaching Award recipients.

The Outstanding Teaching Award is presented to full-time, nontenure-track or part-time faculty members who consistently show outstanding teaching skills in the classroom. Sponsored by the University Teaching Council, the awards are given every year to three faculty members for their outstanding achievements in teaching.

“I was shocked when I found out I received this award,” says Bacha. “I was so honored. I work with a lot of wonderful faculty whom I learned a great deal from. Receiving an award such as this makes me feel that I’m doing a good job in the students’ eyes.” 

Bacha began teaching at Kent State in 1987 after a nursing career as a critical care nurse with the Summa Health System. She taught clinicals for four years before deciding to stay home to raise her three children. She returned to Kent State in 2007 and has taught in the College of Nursing ever since.

Bacha currently teaches Human Growth and Development for the Healthcare Professional and Foundations of Assessment and Communication in Nursing. She says she enjoys teaching both classes because she is able to work with nursing students early in their college career.

“For Foundations of Assessment and Communication, I am the first faculty member that students have in the sequence,” Bacha says. “After they get accepted into the College of Nursing, they see me first. I have to really make them feel enthusiastic about the profession they chose by demonstrating the compassion that I have for my profession.”

Bacha relies on feedback from her students to shape the courses she teaches.

“I take my evaluations very seriously,” she says. “If my students are not comprehending something that I teach, I try to find out the best way to get that information to them. Sometimes, I change the way I teach based on their suggestions.”

Bacha’s current and former students say that her enthusiasm, teaching style and commitment to know students on a personal level encourage them to think critically about the subject matter.

“Her teaching style is down to earth and approachable,” says Karissa Barley, Kent State senior nursing major. “She thoroughly explains the information and she has a personable demeanor. She is always willing to help and is never intimidating. It’s very easy to want to learn more from her.”

Senior nursing major Laura Sierko adds that she appreciates how Bacha treats her students as her equals and never looks down upon them.

Bacha integrates technology, such as PowerPoint presentations with animations, videos and Top Hat, an interactive, real-time polling application, into her classes to engage her students and help them learn.

“The videos pertain to the information that I’m presenting to help my students remember it better,” Bacha says. “I use a lot of pop culture videos that are pertinent to the information that I want my students to understand. All of my lectures are in PowerPoint presentations, and I use the Top Hat app to gauge my students’ understanding of the information in real time. If they are struggling with a concept, I can go back and explain it to them based on feedback from the question.”

Bacha credits her mom with inspiring her to pursue a career in the nursing and education fields.

“I have always enjoyed teaching,” Bacha says. “I originally wanted to become an elementary school teacher, but everyone told me there were more opportunities in the nursing field. My mom was a nurse, and she told me I would still able to teach people by becoming a nurse. I was very close with my mom, so I was really happy that I had that conversation with her. My parents said you should be what you want to be, and it was mom who inspired me to teach and to practice nursing because of the qualities she thought I had.”

For more information about Kent State’s College of Nursing, visit

POSTED: Friday, December 11, 2015 - 11:04am
UPDATED: Friday, December 11, 2015 - 11:03am
Hanna Moore