2020 Excellence in Teaching Awards

The Department of Sociology’s 2020 awards for Excellence in Teaching were recently announced.  These awards were unanimously selected by the students, staff, and faculty members of the Departmental Committee for the Evaluation and Improvement of Instruction, after review of both quantitative and qualitative data from teaching evaluations.  The winners are:

Griffin Bur – Excellence in Teaching by a Teaching Assistant

Maria Azocar – Excellence in Teaching by an Instructor

Doug Maynard – Excellence in Teaching by a Faculty Member


Griffin BurHead Shot of Griffin Bur

TA for: American Society: How it Really Works (Soc 125) and Population Problems (Soc 170) five times across both courses since 2016.

Griffin has consistently received impressive quantitative evaluations from his students, averaging a score of 4.7 out of 5 (five is outstanding) for his overall performance. He has received similarly high marks for his fairness in grading and helpfulness.

Numerous students have appreciated Griffin for his openness and willingness to include a diversity of student perspectives.

One student said, “Griffin was a great TA who knew the course material well and created a welcoming environment to discuss often controversial topics.”

It is clear from his students’ qualitative comments that Griffin is thoughtful and patient in his approach to teaching, knowledgeable and passionate about the material, and accessible and responsive to his students’ inquiries.

Overall, Griffin’s depth of knowledge, in combination with his commitment to student understanding, results in a highly effective approach to teaching. Students use words like “knowledgeable,” “encouraging,” and “accommodating,” to describe him. This portrays Griffin’s demeanor and the inclusive approach he brings to the classroom.

Head Shot of Maria Azocar

María Azocar

Lecturer for: Soc 138: The Sociology of Gender in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019.

Prior to lecturing, María cultivated her teaching at UW as a Teaching Assistant in Criminology and Sociology of Law.

She brought a transnational perspective to her own course in Sociology of Gender, shaped by her research on gender and expertise among Chilean lawyers and her teaching experience at University of Diego Portales and Pontificia Universidad Católica of Chile.

Numerous students noted María’s passion and knowledge for the topic as a driving force behind the course. One described Maria as, “a very dedicated, passionate and talented professor and it was a pleasure to be taught by her.” María delivered an “eye-opening” course in which students cited “enjoying learning.”

Students emerged with newfound perspectives on gender: “Sociology 138 gave me the vocabulary to articulate concepts I had always recognized, but could never verbalize.” Another stated, “María is incredibly knowledgeable and tries her utmost to challenge students to think critically about different ideologies and how these affect our day to day lives.

In addition to her engaging teaching style, María struck a skillful balance of encouraging a high quality of work while also creating a supportive environment for students.

Headshot of Doug MaynardDoug Maynard

Taught: nearly 60 individual iterations of undergraduate & graduate classes over 30 years.

Courses that Doug has taught include undergraduate courses on Social Problems (Soc 130), Ethnomethodology (Soc 545), Language and Social Interaction (Soc 535), and Introduction to Social Psychology (Soc 530), as well as graduate courses on Social Psychology (Soc 730, 960, 965), Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (Soc 735), as well as special topics courses.

Doug has received consistently high teaching ratings throughout his career. These high evaluations are even more remarkable considering that his students find his classes very challenging. For example, a student in Language and Social Interaction stated, “I really enjoyed taking this course and felt like I learned a lot about a subject that I knew nothing about. I admit the coursework was hard for me as a freshman in the first semester of college, but I am glad I took the class.”

Student comments made clear that Doug is an effective instructor. One student observed how the “class was very much tailored by student understanding which I believe is vital in a difficult and new topic such as Conversation Analysis. This was my favorite course this semester, and I would not change a thing.”

Graduate students also lauded Doug’s teaching and mentorship. For instance, a student in a graduate seminar on social psychology wrote that “this course really helped me figure out who I am and who I want to be as a researcher.” Another stated, “Dr. Maynard deserves 5 stars (out of 5)! He was very enthusiastic about class and the content was really interesting. I hadn’t had any background in Soc Psychology. But after I took his course, soc psy became one of my favorite research areas. He treated grad students with respect and kindness. I really appreciate his understanding and help this semester.”

Doug is a committed, thoughtful, and effective instructor that brings his
excitement about teaching. and research to the classroom.

Congratulations to our students and faculty for their exemplary work!