Going above and beyond, both inside and outside of the classroom

October 19, 2020

Bio professor smiling

Michelle Geremia, professor of biology, has developed a unique teaching style over her 32 years at Quinnipiac, according to some of her students.

“In the classroom, this woman never failed to amaze me. She was constantly running around, using simple props like markers, erasers, scarves, or whatever she could find, to not only help her students understand the material she was teaching, but forced us to visualize it,” said Alyssa Chiariello '20. “She managed to create such a positive learning environment, and her classroom was more of an experience than an actual class. She made us want to learn and I looked forward to attending her class. She truly wanted us all to be engaged, and with her unique sense of humor, she kept us on our toes.”

Geremia explained that her approach to teaching has been built upon a modified framework for systemic social and emotional learning. This framework supports learning strategies that promote the development of social-emotional skills, self-efficacy, academic achievement and compassion.

“While the pedagogical basis for these educational action plans was initially designed for the younger population, there is demonstrable applicability to the college-aged student,” said Geremia. “The fundamental approach in my on-ground classroom has been based upon a desire to create a challenging and exciting learning experience peppered with enthusiasm, humor, curiosity and character development — it is indeed a multifaceted experience.”

For her efforts, Geremia is being honored with the university’s most prestigious faculty award this year, the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Service to Students’ Excellence in Teaching award.

“The transition to online was not easy for anyone, including professors,” said Alexander Mass '20. “Dr. Geremia understood the importance of interaction and how different it is having face-to-face communication not only for teaching but for social aspects as well. Dr. Geremia made the decision to hold a live lecture at the normal time and also record it for students in case they could not make it, thus making live lecture optional.”

Geremia explained that transitioning to a virtual platform has begun to shape a new normal for teaching and she realized that she needed to develop practices that would bring the online classroom to life.

“If I could foster the sense of community and positive faculty-student interaction that I had previously developed with my students on-ground, then through this connection I would infuse inspiration and resiliency in them,” said Geremia. “Additionally, I had to find a way to effectively decrease student stress-levels, maintain some aspect of social-emotional interaction, guarantee attendance at class and improve student outcomes.”

Ultimately, Geremia said that she was successful in creating a dynamic community of learners — by delivering her lectures in costume!

“Every single one of Dr. Geremia’s lectures is fun, high energy, and has an element of humor,” said Mass. “Dr. Geremia has tried impact every student that she ever taught, and it is extremely clear that she loves her job and would do anything for her students.”

Reuben Jacobson '20 said that despite the personal challenges Geremia has experienced, she devotes the majority of her time to her students, giving them the best chance at understanding the complex material she teaches.

“Outside of her responsibilities as a professor, Dr. Geremia plays a major role in Quinnipiac's Q-thon fundraiser,” Jacobson added. “She goes above and beyond what is expected of her and is most deserving of this prestigious award.”

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