Ryan Rahm-Knigge, a graduate student studying counseling psychology, is the recipient of the 2019 College of Natural Sciences Graduate Student Excellence in Teaching and Mentoring Award. This award recognizes graduate students for excellence in their work with students based on three criteria: quality, initiative, and breadth.
Rahm-Knigge was assigned a graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) for the General Psychology courses (PSY 100) under the supervision of Karla Gingerich, associate professor, in 2015. Through hard work and dedication he transitioned to a teaching fellow in 2017. Gingerich is quick to praise Rahm-Knigge’s devotion to his appointment.
“It has been an absolute honor to work with Ryan during these last years in my role as teaching supervisor and mentor. As he has gained experience and expertise, Ryan has taken on the role of a peer supervisor and mentor himself. It has been a pleasure to watch him become a role model for his peers in excellent teaching practices as well as in ways to interact appropriately and patiently with students when they have special needs and requests,” Gingerich said.
Rahm-Knigge has been active in teaching activities on campus since his admission to Colorado State University’s psychology doctoral program in 2015. To date, he has been responsible for managing and mentoring four graduate teaching assistants (GTA), 17 writing-focused graduate teaching assistants (W-GTA), and seven undergraduate teaching assistants (UTA). Rahm-Knigge is currently serving in his third year as a teaching fellow and teaching hundreds of students every semester in the PSY 100 course.
“It is important to me to develop good relationships with students, implement engaging teaching and active learning strategies, and balance high expectations with resources to do well in class. I also strive to be mindful of students’ experiences in my courses and use that perspective to inform how I lecture, choose class materials, and respond to students,” Rahm-Knigge said.
To meet his teaching goals, Rahm-Knigge creates relationships with his classes and shows compassion to his students. He deliberately moves around the classroom (and even teaches from the back of the room) so he can engage with every student. He also solicits feedback from his students several times each semester and takes care to check in on their wellbeing.
“The courses I’ve taught cover a lot of content, and quickly, so I try to provide outside resources to help students do well. These include connecting students with department activities and university resources, encouraging students to meet with undergraduate teaching assistants or me for questions about class content, and checking in with students personally if I have concerns about how they are doing,” Rahm-Knigge said.
Rahm-Knigge participated in extra training for the Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) program and afterwards became a leader and trainer for W-GTAs in the PSY 100 course. He is currently involved in a project with the Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT). The project, called the “Canvas Outcomes Grant,” is testing how learning principles can be taught and measured within Canvas, the main online learning system for CSU students. In addition, Rahm-Knigge participates in presentations for Ram Orientation and Professional Development Institute (PDI) sessions.
Rahm-Knigge’s advisor, Psychology Associate Professor Brad Conner, also noted that Rahm-Knigge can be counted on to mentor others.
“Ryan is the most supportive and helpful graduate student I have ever had. He goes above and beyond what is expected of him in order to continue making progress in the program by mentoring undergraduate research assistants, post-baccalaureate research assistants, and junior graduate students,” Conner said.
Rahm-Knigge handles an impressive variety of roles at CSU. He is currently serving his third year as a teaching fellow for PSY 100, and he has also been a GTA and a W-GTA. As a teaching fellow, he instructs large classes with as many as 175 students. He has also co-taught PSY 492C, Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination, with Ernie Chavez, professor. Rahm-Knigge even developed content for an online course entitled Advanced Introduction to Positive Psychology (PSY 500).
In addition to his variety of teaching roles, Rahm-Knigge dedicates his time to voluntarily assist and participate in projects such as TILT’s “Canvas Outcomes Grant” and present at Ram Orientation and PDI sessions.
“These are activities that Ryan does voluntarily because he cares about teaching, training, and mentorship. Ryan has the attitude of someone who cares deeply and wants to go above and beyond to make his class, and all of our classes, better for our students,” Gingerich said.
Rahm-Knigge will be presented with his award at the 2019 CNS Awards Ceremony and Professor Laureate Lecture on Tuesday, November 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Cherokee Park Ballroom of the Lory Student Center, with a reception to follow at the University Club in honor of all award recipients.