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An Exemplary Lecturer: Joan Rosebush

Joan RosebushJohn Hughes, Provost of the University of Vermont, commented during a presentation to a financial management class at UVM that lecturers are some of our best teachers at UVM. He spoke of one particular lecturer in the Math Department whose courses are consistently in demand, who has excellent evaluations and who is a fabulous teacher. Provost Hughes was referring to Joan Rosebush from the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS).

"I knew exactly who he was referring to without his having to mention her name," says Marnie Owen, math student and CEMS Academic Student Services Advisor. "Rosi is simply amazing! Of all the lecturers throughout the University he might have acknowledged as exemplary, he highlighted her."

Rosi serves as senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics and as CEMS Director of Student Success where she advises and counsels students. Either in the classroom or in her office located in Votey 103, Rosi's unprecedented dedication is evidenced by her early arrivals, late departures and her frequent weekends on campus. Her goal is to ensure that students master the subject matter at hand. It should come as no surprise that Rosi's Calculus II class is full of students from her Calculus I class.

"Rosi is a true treasure for our College and UVM at large," says CEMS Dean Domenico Grasso. "Her capabilities and dedication make her a role model for lecturers across campus."

Eliminating Math Anxiety

Understood in all cultures and countries, mathematics has a worldwide presence, yet there is anxiety surrounding math learning. Rosi did her Master's thesis on math anxiety and continues research in this area. She refers endearingly to her students as "little darlings" and her welcoming smile creates a new level of comfort around mathematics.

"Professor Rosebush is without a doubt the most giving individual in a teaching position that I have ever seen at the University of Vermont," says Joan Jordan, CEMS Assistant Dean of Student Services. "In my opinion, there is not a better faculty member to deal with all of the highs and lows of first-year students getting off to the best start."

"Everyone can learn math," Rosi says, "some people just need more time or different types of instruction. Many students have skills they don't even know they have. And although exact answers are important, in reality the process is what's truly important." According to Rosi, through positive self-talk, we can brainwash ourselves into believing that we can do math. In fact, if a student has a good grasp of the basics such as fractions and decimals, higher level material often comes easily.

Rosi's advice to students is to be active learners: attend every class, do the homework, take complete notes, and read ahead in the textbook so that you know what will be presented in class. The key to success, she says, is in taking responsibility for your education. Ask questions and if you don't understand an answer given, continue to ask until you do. If an explanation doesn't make sense to you, seek help and take advantage of office hours, MathLab, help sessions or tutoring, which is available through the Learning Cooperative in Living/Learning Commons 244.

And practice is as important in math as it is in learning a foreign language. "Math is not a spectator sport. You need to practice the skills you're taught," Rosi says with a smile.