Kim Lopez, lecturer in sociology, was awarded the 2017 Provost's Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Lecturer. The univeristy-wide award recognizes a maximum of six lecturers, senior lecturers or other auxiliary faculty members for their teaching excellence with an honorarium made possible by the Office of Academic Affairs. Lopez' focus of scholarship is children and adolescents.
Lopez describes teaching at Ohio State as a "calling," not a job. She believes that students come from different places in their learning; some are exceptional students and some are challenged by academic work. She believes that all course content should be understandable by students regardless of their intellectual abilities and backgrounds, so she takes an approach that challenges students who excel without leaving behind those who may need additional support. This means addressing topics in a way that helps students understand their place in the world and how the theories and course content relates to them and their lives. Specifically, Lopez describes a Vygostkyian approach to teaching, in which learners of different abilities share a single educational space. In Lopez' classes all students work together to bring everyone up to their own potential.
Lopez develops a trusting atmosphere. She and her students do a lot of talking back and forth, sharing experiences and ideas that illustrate theoretical and conceptual material. She creates an environment conducive to open, two-way communication. This begins the process of empowering students to participate in their learning.
Lopez' availability to students outside the classroom also extends to field trips and service learning opportunities. For example, to support the service-learning component of her Child and Society course at the Columbus YMCA, Lopez meets with YMCA officials throughout the semester to make sure things are going smoothly, and, if there are problems, she meets with students outside of class or at the YMCA itself to make sure that learning goals are being met. Another dimension of her availability outside the classroom can be seen in her work with student athletes. Lopez makes a special effort to encourage student athletes in her classes to take advantage of her office hours to gain clarity on material.