Award-Winning Math Teacher Diane Evans Featured in Microsoft Edventures Blog

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Diane stands around a table of four students, who are looking over a paper.
Engaging Students: Mathematics professor Diane Evans was one of six Rose-Hulman faculty members featured in The Princeton Review's 2012 Best 300 Professors book. She has also received the institute's Outstanding Teacher Award. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

Diane Evans doesn't rest on her laurels.

Last year, the Rose-Hulman math professor was named one of America's 300 best professors. Since then she completed Six Sigma Black Belt certification, implemented project-based learning in her courses, and spent time learning how to effectively teach mathematics material online.

Now she's being featured on Microsoft's Daily Edventures blog, along with a new video blog (vlog), to showcase the importance of STEM education and her approach to motivating students.

Watch the vlog.

Daily Edventures blog creator Anthony Salcido, vice president of education for Microsoft's worldwide public sector organization, states that Evans' true commitment to life-long learning "inspires students and educators alike to innovate, take risks, and push boundaries."

Evans, who has earned Rose-Hulman's Outstanding Teacher Award, says, "No matter what class I'm teaching, I absolutely love to convey knowledge to students. Students who care about the subject only make it that much better."

She's a big believer in real-world examples of mathematical concepts, and is excited to bring collaborative learning into the curriculum. Evans helped a student use Six Sigma statistical methodologies to reveal potential cost savings from the amount of cafeteria food waste. The study was featured in a presentation at a national mathematics conference.

Evans is working with other students this spring to examine a reduction of customer wait time at the college coffee shop, study energy savings in campus residence halls, and measure validation testing on medical devices.

"The important part of these learning experiences is that we are trying to tackle something real, and when the results turn out in our favor, it's only that much more rewarding," she says.

Evans Office
Surrounded By Math: Examples of mathematical concepts can be found throughout Diane Evans' office. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

Evans' favorite quote is "Tell me, and I'll forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I'll understand."

"I'm a very visual person," she states. "I have to see pictures, diagrams, and have hands-on examples. I find it works well for [students], too."

Apparently so, as alumnus Joshua Moore, a post-doctoral associate at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland, says, "Professor Evans always made class enjoyable by creating an environment where students were not afraid to ask questions."

Evans is now adapting her award-winning teaching skills in online classes. One conducted last summer had students enrolled from China, India, and the western United States. She produced YouTube videos as a way to "talk" to students, wherever they might be.

"It is essential to try to maintain as much of the personal feel as possible," she says about the online teaching experience. "At first I was worried that background noises (her dog barking or a cell phone ringing) would be an unwanted distraction, but I find it only helps to make the videos more real."

Evans adds, "Instead of ignoring a distraction, I include my students in the experience. For example, I will say 'I'll be back in a moment, my mom is calling' or 'sorry about that, my dog is barking because she sees a rabbit outside.'"