PBSC math professors receive Excellence Award from national organization
Two math professors at the Palm Beach State College Boca Raton campus were recognized at a national conference of their peers for their strategies to help students succeed.
Zalmond Abbondanza, department chair for developmental mathematics, and Dr. Eugenia Cox received an Excellence Award during the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence. They were the PBSC administration’s top choices from among the full-time faculty to represent the College at this year’s conference held May 28-31 in Austin, Texas. All faculty, staff and administrators nominated by their respective institutions to attend the conference each year also receive a NISOD Excellence Award.
Abbondanza, a former computer company owner who began his teaching career part time in 2008 and became full time in 2012, said he was honored to represent the College. “It is amazing that my work has been recognized as such a new faculty member. That’s just an example of how responsive and involved our administration has been with what newer faculty are doing. I very much appreciate the fact that they have noticed me.”
Cox began her PBSC teaching career part time in 2002 before becoming full time in 2004. She was unable to attend the conference. Dr. Tunjarnika Coleman-Ferrell, dean of academic affairs at the Boca Raton campus, accepted the award on Cox’s behalf.
In her nominations of Abbondanza and Cox, Coleman-Ferrell highlighted their teaching innovations and participation on various college committees and initiatives. She said Cox was one of the first to implement the “flipped classroom” method at PBSC, which is designed to help students become more active and engaged learners. In a flipped classroom environment, events that normally would take place in the class, including lectures, are done outside the classroom with the use of technology, while homework that students did outside the classroom are now assignments that are completed in the classroom.
For example, before attending each class, students watch the professor’s video lectures on Blackboard or the MyMathLab online program. They write notes on the lecture concepts along with a few examples of each concept. Then they take an online quiz on the lecture. In class, Cox collects the students’ handwritten notes and provides “concept workshops” using a smart board. After the workshops, students complete online assignments while Cox answers students’ questions. Students receive immediate feedback.
Cox has said that the method “gives students possibilities and understanding on how to improve their results in mathematics. When students apply concepts by themselves in the classroom, they can see the logic of their math.”
Abbondanza was applauded for his role in developing the College’s new intermediate algebra course (MAT1033C), which combined intermediate algebra, a three-credit hour math course and a one-credit hour corresponding lab course into one four credit-hour course to better assists students taking the gateway course.