MSU's Danny Caballero receives President's Distinguished Teaching Award

  • Dec 1, 2017
  • teaching, Faculty, Award
  • Homepage News, Faculty & Staff, Research, Students, College of Natural Science, Physics & Astronomy

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon with Danny Calallero

The presentation of the President's Distinguished Teaching Award is initially presented unbeknownst to its recipient. Here, the surprise involves an unannounced visit by MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon to 2018 recipient Danny Caballero's PHY481 class. Photo by Stepheni Schlinker.

In a surprise visit to the Electricity and Magnetism class (PHY481) underway in MSU’s Biomedical and Physical Sciences Building the afternoon of Nov. 29, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon presented the 2018 President's Distinguished Teaching Award to the faculty member teaching the course—Danny Caballero.

Marcos D. "Danny" Caballero, assistant professor of physics education in the MSU College of Natural Science  studies how tools affect student learning in physics, and the conditions and environments that support or inhibit this learning.  

“It is a great honor to receive this award,” said Caballero, who is also a member of MSU's CREATE for STEM Institute. “I am incredibly humbled by the recognition. I'm sure the ~60 physics and astronomy majors that I was teaching when President Simon came in will make sure that I stay humbled, at least for the next couple of weeks. The great potential that they have and the bright futures ahead of them are the reasons why I try to teach better every day.”

Caballero conducts research from the high school level to the upper-division college level, and is particularly interested in how students learn physics through their use of mathematics, computing and language. His work employs cognitive and socio-cultural theories of learning, and aims to blend these perspectives to enhance physics instruction at all levels. Caballero’s projects range from the fine-grained (e.g., how students engage with particular mathematical tools) to the coarse-scale (e.g. how students learn the tools of classical mechanics) to the very broad (e.g., what is the nature of computational physics instruction across the United States).

“Dr. Caballero has had a remarkable influence on the teaching culture in our department,” said Phillip Duxbury, professor and MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy chair. “His research is focused on student outcomes, and he is expert in building consensus for bringing about change to evidence-based teaching practice. He is a rising star in his field and is considered a superlative teacher by both faculty observers and students. It is a privilege to have Dr. Caballero in our department.”

Caballero's teaching excellence is further amplified by his research program in Physics Education Research (PER), which has brought international recognition to MSU and has attracted more than $3 million in federal funding. He is also a world leader in developing and assessing effective teaching environments, with a particular focus on utilizing computational methods at all levels. Further, Caballero is part of a team charged with a complete revision of the STEM curriculum at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Caballero was the choice of the selection committee, from a field composed of two dozen distinguished teachers at MSU, many with decades of teaching experience.

The President's Distinguished Teaching Award was established by Carl Liedholm, professor in the MSU Department of Economics, and his wife Margaret, in recognition of the role that faculty play in creating innovative environments that enable student learning within and across disciplinary, cultural and ethnic boundaries.

The award is open to current MSU faculty members who have a sustained record of substantial teaching responsibilities at MSU, and who have implemented creative and engaging ways to foster student learning. Recipients receive a $3,000 stipend and are recognized both during a class taught by the winner and again at the annual All-University Awards Convocation—which will be held February 6, 2018.

Banner image: MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon and Danny Caballero (seated front center) pose with Caballero’s ~60 PHY481 students following the announcement of his selection as the 2018 President's Distinguished Teaching Award during the class. Photo by Stepheni Schlinker.