Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Recipient, Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs

Background of the Award

Excerpts from the GSIs’ Nomination Letters

Background of the Award

Each spring graduate students are invited to nominate faculty members for the Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of GSIs. Typically each nomination is supported by several GSIs who have worked with the honoree. The award, sponsored by the Graduate Council’s Advisory Committee for GSI Affairs and the GSI Teaching & Resource Center, is presented as a surprise in the faculty member’s classroom, with the GSIs and other departmental faculty and staff present.

Angela Marino of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies is one of two faculty members who received the award in April 2017. Jeffrey Reimer, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and chair of the Graduate Council’s Faculty Committee for GSI Affairs, presented the award plaque.

The excerpts below reflect mentoring activities that the GSI found especially effective.

Excerpts from the GSIs’ Nomination Letters

Professor Marino’s GSIs describe her approach to mentoring as conscientious, communicative, and collaborative:

“She made sure that we knew she was concerned with our workload, and at many points she offered to help us out with grading, planning and scheduling, as we saw necessary. In preparation for assignments, exams and papers, she worked with us to establish clear prompts and rubrics that allowed the grading process to proceed in a smooth, efficient and fair manner. She involved us in planning the semester – soliciting our critical feedback on plans for specific lectures and on the arc of the whole course. Moreover, she was impeccable about recognizing our contributions to the syllabus and framing of the texts, making it clear to the students when our input had helped shape what they were learning. .. While she invited us to collaborate with her at all stages, Professor Marino did not rely on us unduly to generate course content. She always had a guiding vision for the course, as well as multiple possibilities for structuring, ordering and pacing lectures, exercises and discussions.”

Professor Marino’s GSIs also point out that models what it means to be a student-centered teacher, one who is attentive to student needs and responsive to the impact of social issues on student learning:

“Her GSIs write “Because of the US presidential election and the many political conflicts and fears that arose after it, the semester was a difficult one for many students. Professor Marino was sensitively attuned to the students’ concerns – especially considering that many students in the course had families and friends who feared for their immigration statuses. Professor Marino cultivated a learning environment where students’ immediate concerns could be voiced, without shutting down all points of view on the political situation, and in ways that served to illuminate the topics of the class (and vice versa) rather than distracting from them. Also, she counseled us on how to approach the situation in our discussion sections, advising us on how to manage discussion and point students to resources on campus and beyond. Many students in our sections said they felt lucky they were taking this class during that semester, since it helped them to process and understand what was going on in the greater world as events were unfolding; we felt the same way.”

They also brought to our attention how Professor Marino models excellent, experiential teaching practices:

“She is also skilled at introducing embodied dimensions to the learning environment, which is often neglected in pedagogy, even in the field of performance studies, where it is a major subject and mode of analysis. Examples of this were two classes she devoted to Brazilian theater practitioner Augusto Boal’s Forum Theater techniques. She guided us expertly in participating in Boalian exercises – group movement schemas and scenarios meant to elicit submerged power relations and assumptions – and she also brought in another seasoned Boal facilitator, with a different approach to the practice, to lead a session. Together with our post-exercise discussions and our readings on the topic, these sessions gave us a thorough, experientially grounded introduction to the approach. Many of her lectures – and her suggestions on what to include in our discussion sections – included smaller, but still very effective, examples of group exercises that allowed the embodied dimensions to come to the surface, to animate and elucidate the theoretical material.“

Her GSIs also write that Professor Marino provides thoughtful one-one-one feedback through classroom observations of GSIs:

“She visited our sections to observe our teaching process. This part of GSIing can sometimes feel like pressure to perform, but in this course, it felt like an opportunity to learn about what we already bring to the classroom, and how it can be refined. We felt that she recognized our strengths as teachers and gave us constructive, generous criticism on how to better organize the class time and include more of the students’ voices in discussion.”

GSIs summarize the impact of Professor’s mentorship in the following way:

“In short, our experience as a GSIs in Professor Marino’s class was a highlight of our time as graduate students so far. The conversations that began in that class, with the students and with Professor Marino, have continued to develop after the semester ended, and have become significant influences on our graduate research.”