Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008
Christine H. Leland
Frederic Bachman Lieber Memorial Award
Professor of Language Education
School of Education
Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis
Appointed to IU faculty, 1991
B.A., Smith College, 1970
M.Ed., Northeastern University, 1981
Ed.D., Boston University, 1986
"Her students learn, both through practice and by example, how to shape questions, gather relevant data, and evaluate findings."
--Khaula Murtadha, Former Executive Associate Dean, IU School of Education, IUPUI
School of Education Professor Christine Leland has more than 30 years of experience in education, but colleagues and students would never say she's stuck in the past. Leland has spent many of those years improving education, refusing to accept traditional teaching methods without challenging their effectiveness. Before her 16 years as a professor, she taught for 14 years in public elementary schools in Massachusetts.
Fellow professors turn to her for ways to improve and expand their teaching methods. She stimulates her students' thinking with such tools as literature, shared investigations, journaling, Socratic discussions, and presentations. "Every student has a voice in Dr. Leland's class, and every student is expected to contribute to the learning of the class," says Beth Berghoff, associate professor of language education at IUPUI.
Leland is a three-time recipient of the Indiana University Teaching Excellence Recognition Award (TERA), and in 2005 she earned the Faculty Colloquium for Excellence in Teaching (FACET) Award. Students consistently give her high marks on course evaluations. Leland provides regular written feedback for students and closely monitors their progress. She measures students not only by observing their actions in class, but by maintaining connections with them after they have left the classroom.
But being an exceptional teacher isn't enough for Leland. She played a central role in the design and implementation of the Learning to Teach/Teaching to Learn (LT/TL) program at IUPUI, which provides a cohesive, long-term plan of study for education students. One of her most notable accomplishments is her instrumental role in establishing the Center for Inquiry (CFI), a public magnet school in central Indianapolis. "The most glaring need for new teachers is in urban areas where teaching conditions are the most challenging and where official public support has often been minimal," she says.
Leland worked with fellow Indiana University professors and a group of Indianapolis Public Schools teachers to create CFI, where new teachers are prepared to build a curriculum that is based on learners' inquiries. Students are encouraged to ask questions and pursue the answers themselves. CFI teachers are taught to help students become more inquisitive. They ask open-ended questions and do not provide students with quick solutions to their questions.
For six years Leland taught 30 to 45 undergraduate education majors on the school site. The program was named one of the best teacher education programs in the country by the International Reading Association and was featured in a special issue of Learning Magazine. In 2007 Indianapolis Public Schools opened a second Center for Inquiry and staffed it with many teachers who were graduates of the teacher education program at IUPUI.
Leland blends her roles as teacher and scholar without sacrificing her contributions in either arena. "We are fortunate that Leland was willing to serve as chair for our teacher education program and then as associate dean for academic affairs, and students are fortunate that she has refused to reduce her teaching as she has taken on additional duties," says Khaula Murtadha, former executive associate dean of the School of Education.
Berghoff says that Leland "has been an innovator and exceptionally talented practitioner who exemplifies the scholarship of teaching." She continues: "Her door is always open, and she spends countless hours listening, questioning, passing out articles and books, responding to e-mails, and discussing teaching with faculty members at all levels."
Leland has also earned a reputation as an outstanding presenter. From 1995 to 2006, 126 students joined her in presentations at 36 conferences. These presentations give Leland the opportunity to put her active teaching style into practice; she invites undergraduates and graduates to accompany her to conferences, challenging them to become comfortable with research and public speaking.
Sharon Jamison, lecturer in language education at IUPUI, says that Leland's "dedication to teaching and to the mission of IUPUI is an integral part of her commitment to our community-at-large -- to be an agent of change, growth, and development in an urban context."