- Lieber Memorial Teaching Associate Award (1999)
When students arrived in Brad Smith's Introduction to Sociological Statistics class last fall, they read these words of advice in their first course handout: "If you are dreading this class, then stop dreading it right now. I am a firm believer that a statistics course can be simultaneously interesting, useful and fun."
Generally, students are leery of such claims, especially when they are entering a statistics or research methods course. The courses are, in the words of the three sociology faculty members who nominated Smith for the Lieber Associate Instructor Award, "probably the most feared and loathed among our undergraduates," mainly because students worry that they lack the mathematical skills required to succeed.
As a result, no graduate student in recent memory had been called upon to teach that sequence of courses. But Smith's teaching ability--which previously has been recognized with both of the awards that the Department of Sociology gives to its best associate instructors, as well as with the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher/Scholar Award and the Preparing Future Faculty Award--has proven equal to the challenge.
A theme that often arises in student evaluations is how open Smith is to maintaining communication with his students. For students who are having trouble with a class and are uncomfortable meeting with an instructor, Smith also uses a peer tutoring program, pairing those students with others who are doing well in class.