The annual presentation ceremony for the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Awards had a few bumpy spots this year, symptoms of its first time in a new, commencement-style format as well as a new location (the auditorium of I-House). But on this maiden voyage, no icebergs were encountered, the ship didn’t sink, and everyone sailed into port intact and with honor.
In all, 276 GSIs from 61 graduate programs were granted this recognition, which is now just over a decade old. Students are nominated by their departments, and may receive this honor only once during their studies here (although many recipients continue to be GSIs as well as outstanding, if without the capital “o.”)
The award recognizes the excellence of their teaching. Selections are made according to detailed guidelines, following criteria which may include skills in presenting course materials, capacity to promote critical thinking, and skills in developing course materials that promote learning, as well as evidence such as evaluations by students, letters of nomination by faculty or students, and classroom observation by faculty.
George Breslauer, Berkeley’s second-highest-ranking administrator on campus, brought the official congratulations of the campus, saying, “This is a feel-good moment. I want to thank all the GSIs for what you do for the university. Our curriculum would not be anything approaching what it is without your role in delivering the education that you do. You are performing a critical function for the university, and I want you to know how much we appreciate it. You’re not only piquing the intellectual curiosity of the students in your sections or in your courses, you’re guiding their intellectual development. You’re eliciting their passion about the material. You’re a role model in addition to being a mentor and an adviser and, in many cases, a friend. When you can perform that many different functions in so exemplary a fashion, not only are we appreciative, but you should be damned proud of yourselves.”
All of the 2009-2010 Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award recipients, listed by department, are available online.