Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Ph.D. Candidate in German Studies
Andrea Larson graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in economics and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Duke University. She taught German as Foreign Language at both Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a visiting lecturer before joining the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies. Her research focuses on the role of gender in German poetry after 1900. Currently, she is examining the function of the epiphanic feminine in the works of post-modernist female poets. She is also pursuing two certificates—one in College Teaching and the other in Philosophy, Arts and Literature.
Larson has been a teaching assistant for a variety of courses at both Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill during her time as a Ph.D. student. In 2021-2022, she served as the language team coordinator for introductory German language instruction at UNC-Chapel Hill, for which she received UNC’s Siegfried Mews Award for Excellence in Teaching German. In the fall of 2022, she taught an advanced German language seminar at Duke, revamping the course to make the material more inclusive and better aligned with contemporary German concerns.
She has also served as the German internship coordinator for the Duke German Studies undergraduate program for the past three years. In that role, she transformed the resources available to students seeking internships abroad. She established new contacts, found new internships, created a website to share those opportunities, and provided one-on-one guidance to help students with their application material.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of teaching for me is the sense of human connectedness in the classroom. As a language instructor of German, I am particularly interested in other cultures, and love learning from my students about different ways of living in the U.S. and abroad. When teaching, I like to attend to the ways in which language functions as a vehicle for culture and thought and therefore hope to facilitate cross-cultural communication, interaction, and understanding.
How have you evolved as a teacher compared to when you first started?
Over the years, I have begun to attend more concretely to equity concerns in and outside the classroom, may they be related to differences in racial or socio-economic backgrounds or learning preferences. For instance, I have revised all my lesson materials to capture the diverse German society today more adequately and have incorporated a variety of media in order to support all learning styles fairly. Similarly, my efforts outside the classroom aim to provide students with equal opportunities, by seeking funding, for instance, to pay for the internationally recognized Goethe language certificate that is the stepstone to higher education and professional life in Germany, as well as by revamping the internship program that informs students of paid opportunities abroad and helps with the application process. I am particularly proud of the relatively new collaboration between Duke in Berlin and the internship program that allows students to study abroad for a semester and pursue an international internship at the same time.
What does a successful classroom look like? How do you go about creating such a setting?
A successful classroom consists of an inclusive community of learners that values the unique perspectives that students of diverse backgrounds and identities have to offer. It is therefore a space in which students and instructors can trust and respect one another. To achieve this, I advocate student-centered learning in a welcoming classroom environment, I attend to different learning preferences by using a wide variety of media, and I outline a path to success in my courses by providing clear instructions and transparent assessment information.
IN THEIR WORDS
Excerpts from Larson’s nomination
“Based on my observations of Andrea’s teaching, I can attest that students are drawn in by her highly engaging teaching style, which they have also highlighted repeatedly in the official end-of-semester evaluations. It is clear that she values her students’ input and contributions and that she is invested in their success.”
“Her approachable personality and her witty sense of humor allow her to connect with students from all walks of life with ease. Her classes show that she is reflective as well as innovative and creative in her teaching.”
“In class, she gives thoughtful feedback, and her instructions and expectations are clear. Andrea puts her students’ learning front and center. She is passionate about teaching and her dedication to her students is exemplary.”