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Last modified: Thursday, March 30, 2006

Mark Hoyert

Herman Frederic Lieber Memorial Award

Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology
Indiana University Northwest
Appointed to IU faculty, 1988
B.S., University of Maryland, 1981; B.A., 1982
M.A., Emory University, 1985; Ph.D., 1988

"He is a god," according to one evaluation by a former student, while another says, "I felt like I was being taught by a philosopher (Socrates)." Although these assessments may be hyperbolic, it's difficult to overstate Professor Mark Hoyert's enthusiasm for teaching and his pervasive sense of humor.

From the first moment students step into his classroom, Hoyert's humor sets them at ease. He energetically illustrates his lectures with copious jokes, drawings, stories, and real-world examples that underscore the content and at the same time make classes fun and exciting. He creates a comfortable atmosphere for learning, and his students are clearly engaged.

But underneath it all, there's method to his madcap demeanor. Hoyert is serious about teaching and about creating collaborative relationships with his students. Each student brings life experiences and knowledge to the class, and during the semester they explore psychology in a partnership. Hoyert believes such relationships are the foundation for effective higher education. In his view, faculty and students should learn and grow together.

"While the advancement of content is of paramount importance, Dr. Hoyert's contributions sometimes go well beyond providing content and reach for the life-transforming," says Stephanie Smith, professor of psychology at Indiana University Northwest. "He serves as a model of a strong, competent scientist; infects students with his enthusiasm; inspires them to think deeply; and encourages them to grow. He is a teacher that we could all learn from."

Beyond content, Hoyert includes theories and historical explanations as well as foundations in research methodologies to help students understand the process that leads to the discovery of knowledge. He fosters critical thinking, clear expression of ideas in speaking and writing, empirical reasoning, ethical judgment, and sensitivity to all people and cultures. His ultimate goal, he says, is to create lifelong learners who continue seek out and acquire knowledge in a systematic way over their entire lives.

Hoyert is committed to using innovative teaching techniques to promote student learning. He uses what he calls a "decentralized learning environment" to increase student interaction, with the goal of developing a collaborative learning process so students become active participants. This approach avoids the typical scenario in which a small group of "talkers" takes the lead in every classroom discussion.

This approach is reflected in and strengthened through in-class presentations by students who have read an assigned current research article and, on their own, become experts on that topic. The findings they share contribute to course content, and information they present is included on exams.

"Mark is an excellent mentor," says Charles Gallmeier, associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at IU Northwest. "His students have presented sessions of their work at regional and national conferences in psychology, and several students hae presented original research papers at regional undergraduate research conferences. Many have gone on to graduate school in psychology, sociology, and social work as well as professional schools in law and medicine. Mark understands that good teaching doesn't end in the classroom but continues outside the classroom."

Hoyert's pedagogical contribution outside of the classroom is also evident through the substantial research he has done examining motivation for academic achievement. He developed a motivational intervention based on his findings—a tutoring program for struggling Introductory Psychology students—that has reduced their failure rate by half. He was awarded a P.A. Mack Fellowship through IU's Mack Center for Inquiry on Teaching and Learning, in part for his tutoring program.

Hoyert has been widely recognized for his exemplary teaching. He has received three IU Teaching Excellence Recognition Awards, three Trustees Teaching Awards, an IU Northwest Founders Day Teaching Award, and he is a member of the Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching. He has also published widely on the scholarship of teaching and on the motivational states that drive academic performance. In addition, he has assumed leadership roles in promoting educational and curricular issues regionally, and was instrumental in developing and implementing the Bachelor of Science degree in psychology on the IU Northwest campus.

Demonstrating his passion for learning, Dr. Hoyert is dedicated to becoming, in his words, an "ever more successful teacher." He zealously pursues this goal by trying new teaching techniques, observing and collaborating with colleagues, and attending and presenting at teaching-related conferences. "Developing a lifelong love of learning is one of the noblest goals of education," he says. "I hope that I might have played a small role in encouraging its development in my students."