HPU Names Its 2019 Teacher of the Year

Ngoc Phan and students

Assistant Professor of Political Science Ngoc Phan, Ph.D., was named the 2019 HPU Teacher of the Year at the University’s May 9 Commencement ceremony.   

A specialist in the areas of American Politics, Political Behavior, Political Methodology, and Race and Ethnicity, Phan’s primary teaching objective is to promote science literacy and scientific thinking. She employs methods designed to develop students’ critical thinking skills and promote their interest in research. Her aim is that students be not just passive consumers of knowledge but, instead, active users of science in addressing significant social challenges. 

Political science and international studies majors culminate their undergraduate experience in her “Senior Seminar” capstone course, where each student conducts their own original empirical research paper. This course is also known as “social science boot camp” and challenges students to test theory with empirical analysis. In 2018, a student from this course won “Best Undergraduate Research” at the University-wide Capstone Symposium. This year at the same symposium, two students won awards: one, again, for “Best Undergraduate Research” and another for “Dean’s Award” for the College of Liberal Arts. 

Students leave her classes with enhanced critical thinking skills, quantitative research experience, and the tools to be engaged citizen scientists.  

One student who nominated Phan for the award said, “She always taught me to aim high no matter what it was. I gained the strength to stand up for myself under her guidance because she taught me a single contribution by one individual is all it takes to start something remarkable.”