Patrick Gallagher, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2003, and an M.A. in Experimental Psychology from Wake Forest University in 2005. His research investigates how self-regulatory processes contribute to both stability and variability in behavior, the nature and function of personality traits, and self-regulatory influences in judgment and decision-making. Patrick’s nominations speak to his roles as a teaching assistant, classroom instructor, workshop leader, and mentor to undergraduates. These varied experiences, coupled with a relaxed and approachable teaching style, helps Patrick create an engaging mood in the classroom where students feel that they are participating in the learning experience, that they can voice their questions and concerns in and out of class, and that they can ask for and receive exactly what they want out of his courses.
Patrick’s casual and low-key approach in front of a class is nearly mesmerizing; akin to listening to a skilled storyteller weave an intricate and enchanting tale. Patrick has received strong reviews from both his students and the faculty members for whom he has worked as a teaching assistant who express strong feelings about his teaching skill, professional style, and concern for students.
Patrick has actively pursued ways to improve his teaching. For example, he has taken both “Introduction to College Teaching” and “Instructional Uses of Technology.” Patrick subsequently sought summer teaching experiences so that he could hone his skills as a teacher. Additionally, he has led workshops for the Duke Social Science Research Institute, courses which are attended by researchers across disciplines. As such, he is able to alter his teaching style to appeal to both specific (psychology undergraduates) and broad audiences. Finally, Patrick has been involved in the Vertical Integration Program in our department during which he served as a mentor to undergraduates doing independent research. As with his other teaching responsibilities, Patrick took this role very seriously and was considered a very effective mentor.
Reading students’ comments suggests that Patrick’s highly engaging approach to teaching plays an integral role in his success. For example, one student wrote “kept class relaxed and engaged.” Other words that students used to describe Patrick were “accessible,” “easy to approach,” and “enthusiastic,” and one indicated that he “puts thought and passion” into his teaching. Having seen Patrick speak, I know what they are talking about. He is consistently well-prepared, clear, engaging, and enthusiastic in his talks.
By creating a comfortable learning environment where he can identify students’ varied learning styles and needs, Patrick facilitates dialogue and helps students enjoy, integrate, and use what they learn.