David Vaught’s office is decorated with his off-hours passion – aviation.
Stickers from airframe makers adorn his windows and model airplanes fill most crevices in his Anheuser-Busch Natural Sciences Building office.
He’s added something new to his trophy case that, unfortunately, won’t get airborne unless you throw it really hard, a Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching and advising.
Vaught, chair and director of graduate studies for the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources’ Parks, Recreation and Tourism department, was recognized in early March.
“Dr. Vaught, assistant professor in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, is an exemplary teacher,” said Mark Ryan, director of the MU School of Natural Resources and Wm. J. Rucker Professor of Wildlife Conservation.
He continued, “David excels at the use of technology in the classroom, from ‘clickers’ used to get students in very large classes actively engaged to the use of video in his PowerPoint lectures. He teaches very large lecture courses, small seminar courses, study abroad courses, and graduate classes. He uses a variety of pedagogical tools within and among these courses.”
In his nomination letter, Ryan commented that he had the pleasure of teaching with Vaught on several occasions. “He knew every student’s name within two weeks of the class beginning,” Ryan noted. “His easy rapport with students created a very positive learning environment – comfortable discussion atmosphere, lots of questions, etc. His enthusiasm was palpable – really important for the introductory class – that quickly got them focused on key issues in PRT, and emphasized professional skills in addition to content knowledge.”
Ryan said that Vaught is very direct and clear with students.
“He left no doubt about their responsibilities for the course,” Ryan mentioned. “David was sensitive to the new college students in the group. He probed for understanding, encouraged questions (sometimes asking the obvious question of himself and answering it!), and seemed genuinely concerned about student learning.”
Vaught works to create diverse learning opportunities
With his background in adult education, Vaught really understands the diversity of learning styles that exist in any classroom and works to create diverse learning opportunities, Ryan said.
This understanding also helps him tailor his messages to help make information clear to diverse audiences. “Like most good teachers, David sets the bar high for students. But, his strong connections with them make it possible for him to provide individual attention to help students meet his expectations,” Ryan continued.
Vaught grew up in Columbia and earned his PhD from MU. As a hobby, has been flying model aircraft for about 40 years and has followed the evolution of the sport. As a kid, he would read the model magazines of the day and build, fly and rebuild the balsa wood and silk models with rubber bands for propulsion.
As the technology matured, he migrated to plastic gas-powered models on control lines. When he was exposed to radio control in the seventies, he traded control lines for a hand-held radio transmitter.
After hours, he evaluates radio-controlled airplanes for Model Airplane News magazine, Backyard Flyer magazine and the RCGroupsonline forum. Model Airplane News is the largest and oldest of the genre with worldwide distribution.
Golden Apple Award recognizes CAFNR faculty
The Golden Apple Award is designed to recognize faculty in the College who excel and go “above and beyond” in teaching and/or advising.
To be eligible for the CAFNR Golden Apple award, faculty members must demonstrate clarity, variability and enthusiasm. They need to be accessible to students, helpful, personable and act as a mentor that students can turn to for advice and direction.
Nominees should be well-prepared for classes and encourage creative work. They should demonstrate how they provide opportunities for learning, teaching to clearly established objectives and expectations.
Just don’t go throwing it to make it fly. It’s way too heavy for that.