- President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (2016)
Students are often concerned that what they’re learning in the classroom may not be applicable to the real world. For students who take a class with Diane Larson, there’s never a doubt.
IU Northwest Senior Lecturer in Computer Information Systems Larson is dedicated to preparing students with the skills they need to confidently pursue a variety of careers—which is why there’s often a waiting list just to get into her classes.
“In lectures, I give real world examples to enhance the concepts being discussed,” says Larson. “Information technology, such as computers, software applications, multimedia, and telecommunications, are integrated within all disciplines. No matter what discipline a student is in, computers are utilized in some fashion.”
Before joining the IU community as a full-time lecturer in 2002, Larson was running her own computer training business and balancing adjunct teaching positions on the side. Though Larson was a successful entrepreneur, she always had a passion for teaching.
“Diane is the definition of an outstanding educator,” says Roy Foreman, professor in the Department of Information Systems at Purdue University Calumet. “She truly works hard and puts forth her best effort in all her classes.”
Larson has developed a technology-based curriculum that guides students through Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint. Not only do these lessons help students create presentations and reports for other classes, they also provide students with professional skills for success after graduation.
“I really enjoyed learning each computer section because I knew it was not a waste of time,” wrote a student in Larson’s introductory computer information systems course. “I will be using all of this information in the future.”
As a professor of Computer Information Systems in the digital age, Larson understands the distractions that come with students using technology in class. However, she overcomes these obstacles by engaging her students in hands-on demonstrations and activities.
“I was struck by the fact that all of her students were paying attention,” says Dr. Charles P. Gallmeier, Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology at IU Northwest, who nominated Larson for the award after attending her classes. “I have observed other computer courses and often witness some students working on their emails or searching the web. I did not see one student doing this in Diane’s class. They were all engaged and focused on the lesson.”
Larson has received numerous teaching awards, including the IU Northwest Founder’s Day Award (2013), the IU Northwest Distinguished Service Award (2013), and the IU Board of Trustees Award (2006, 2009, 2011, 2013). She was also recognized as a Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) inductee in 2011.
Her students and colleagues agree that Larson’s exceptional dedication to teaching has made a lasting impact. Professor of Computer Science at DePauw University Gloria Townsend says, “I can think of no more deserving winner of the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching than Diane Larson—a woman who cares about her students enough to make a difference in their lives inside and outside the classroom.”