Staci Thomas exudes enthusiasm and positive energy and it’s clear that students respond to her teaching tactics in her classroom where they practice the art of communication. Thomas, a lecturer in Management Communication at Olin was named one of 40 Top Undergraduate Professors by the Poets & Quants website this month.
Thomas received the Reid Teaching Award from the Class of 2017 and has been teaching at Olin since 2014 and at WashU since 2010.
Thomas uses the flipped classroom approach in her classes. Students watch lectures on line and when they get to class, they are on their feet, practicing speaking, presentation, and other communication skills.
“She has done an incredible job ensuring that the electronic content is robust and that when in class students are applying the knowledge they have gained,” Steve Malter told Poets & Quants. Malter is Olin’s senior associate dean of undergraduate programs.
“There’s a pretty clear difference between lecturing and teaching,” Thomas explained to Poets & Quants. “We need to stop “dumping information” and placing the onus of responsibility on the students to absorb it. Today’s student grew up in sound-bites, vivid imagery and ever-changing pop-culture references. Long lectures and static images are no longer effective. We need to create new ways of teaching that work for the student, not just for the professor.”
Thomas answers a series of questions on the P&Q site. And the last question says a lot about her dedication and enthusiasm for teaching, “If, in 10 years, I could look back on 10 years’ worth of successful, satisfied former students, I’d call that a success.” Link to P&Q interview.