NDSU Instructor Wins Prestigious Teaching Award


Janice Haggart, instructor in the Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences at NDSU, received a major teaching award from theU.S. Department of Agriculture and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

The Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences award recognizes sustained, meritorious and exceptional teaching within food and agricultural sciences. Haggart was one of six recipients in the regional category. It was presented to her at theAssociation of Public and Land-grant Universities annual meeting on Nov. 10, in Washington, D.C.

Teachers in food and agriculture disciplines from around the country were considered for the award. Haggart is the first NDSU instructor to receive the honor.

“The best of the best teachers in food and agricultural sciences from across the country are considered for this highly competitive award,” said David Buchanan, associate dean for academic programs in the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources and professor of animal science. “We are thrilled for Janice to be included in this roll call of excellence. She is an outstanding representative of the many excellent faculty members that we have in the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources.”

Haggart, who earned a bachelor’s degree in bacteriology and a master’s degree in microbiology from NDSU, has been teaching at the university for 18 years. She currently teaches general microbiology and several labs.

In course evaluations, students rate Haggart highly as a teacher and comment on her knowledge, her passion for student success, her ability to communicate complex information and her engaging teaching methods.

A key part of Haggart’s teaching philosophy is to make a personal connection with students and help them be the best they can be. She strives to make large lecture classes feel small by implementing active learning elements, such as games.

To engage students, Haggart helps students see how microbiology applies to real life. She starts class with “Microbes in the News,” pointing out and discussing current news stories, such as the Norwich virus outbreak on cruise ships and zoonotic parasites causing death in humans. She also takes a nontraditional approach of assigning students to read a novel associated with microbiology. Then they discuss the scientific and ethical issues associated with the story.

She facilitates connections between students and faculty researchers in her department. In small groups, students work on a project in the faculty member’s area of expertise. Students are exposed to additional topics and have the opportunity to develop relationships with other NDSU experts.

In a letter of support, NDSU alumna Andrea Lee wrote about Haggart’s ability to engage students. Lee reflected that she didn’t want to take her first microbiology class but that Haggart drew her in and won her over. “As much as I tried not to enjoy the class, she made it interesting and easy to understand, especially with her use of visual images,” wrote Lee, who is now in her second year of veterinary school.

Lee enjoyed the class so much that she later became Haggart’s teaching assistant. “She set a great example for me at NDSU, and had a great influence on the kind of student and person I have become.”

Haggart also has mentored students through her role as faculty adviser for the College of Agriculture, Food Systems and Natural Resources Honor Commission, a student self-governing organization. She has served as faculty adviser for nine years.

In May 2013, Haggart added NDSU’s Outstanding Faculty Advising Award to the many teaching awards and honors she has received. She is the first recipient the award. Her colleagues at NDSU and the Tri-College University recognize her as a leader in effective, innovative teaching and seek her advice to improve their own teaching.

Haggart also brings non-academic experience to the classroom. Early in her career she worked as a microbiologist for the state health department and as a lab and pharmacy technician.

In addition to the six awards in the regional category, the national and new teacher categories each had two award recipients. The full list of winners is available at http://aplublog.blogspot.com.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation’s top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.