For the past 20 years, Dr. Tom Link has worked hard to make complex psychological concepts relatable, interesting and easy to understand for his students. The psychology professor estimates he has taught his Introduction to Psych class upwards of 100 times, always committing to using fresh, relevant material.
“It is so important to help people see the application of concepts in their own lives,” Link said. “I try to use real-life examples in the classroom as much as possible.”
Link’s commitment to keeping students engaged in the classroom is one of the many reasons he has been recognized as the winner of this year’s Distinguished Faculty award. The Pierce College faculty and Federation of Teachers presented Link with the award during a celebratory event in March. The award is based on the recipient’s contributions to the college, community, and history of excellence in teaching.
“Tom is one of those colleagues who almost anybody you talk to has a story about how he has collaborated with them, or helped them in some way,” said English Prof. Curt Warmington, who leads the Distinguished Faculty selection committee. “He makes us all better by being around him.”
The award comes with a monetary prize from the Pierce College Foundation, and the honor of delivering the Distinguished Faculty address during a dinner and celebration at the college. Link delivered a talk entitled ‘The Parable of the Long Spoons Taught Me How to Teach.’
“It is such an honor to receive the Distinguished Faculty Award,” Link said. “There are so many people who do so much work for the community and for the school. It is a real honor to be chosen from among such an impressive group of faculty.”
One of the biggest ways Link ensures his material stays relevant to students is by using open educational resources in his classes. These freely available learning materials can be edited to fit the needs of each of his classes, while eliminating students’ financial burden of purchasing expensive textbooks. By using open educational resources, he is able to continually update content, adding new and relevant examples of core concepts as often as necessary.
“Open educational resources help us better explain what’s going on in the world,” Link said. “They also help us ask questions to see how everything fits together. This is something traditional textbooks don’t always allow.”
Reprinted, with permission, from the Pierce College website.