A Colorado State University psychology professor, who has been teaching and exploring innovative multimedia instructional methods for nearly 40 years, today was named Colorado Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation.
The honor to Frank Vattano comes shortly after he received $427,000 from McGraw Hill Publishers to produce a series of video modules on social psychology. For more than a decade, Vattano has brought cutting edge research and interviews with key researchers to undergraduate general psychology classrooms through video module series entitled "The Mind" and "The Brain."
The prestigious Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education since 1989 have been naming top state professors who are dedicated to undergraduate instruction. Vattano is the first instructor so honored from Colorado State.
"Frank Vattano’s compassion, commitment to excellence and passion for teaching are an inspiration to all at Colorado State," said President Albert C. Yates. "The university community joins me in offering our appreciation for his tireless efforts on behalf of this institution, his profession and our students."
Vattano currently is teaching honors psychology to a small group of students, co-teaching a universitywide graduate seminar on college teaching he’s offered since 1971 and instructing an undergraduate teaching assistant seminar. In addition, he oversees eight sections of undergraduate psychology with a total enrollment of 1,800 students. In his teaching, he remains firmly committed to textbooks and lectures, using multi-media as an adjunct to provoke, explain and demonstrate.
"Some of my colleagues might accuse me of catering to the TV generation, but as long as it is effective and supports what they’ve read, as long as it’s not ‘technology for technology’s sake,’ I believe it is appropriate," he said.
Beginning in 1987, in collaboration with colleagues Thomas Bennett and Michelle Butler and the staff of Colorado State’s Office of Instructional Services, Vattano produced modules from a television series on "The Brain" and a later, similar series on "The Mind." Their work was supported by the Annenberg Foundation/Corporation for Public Broadcasting project and Worth Publishers. "The Mind’s" 35 modules have been updated and re-edited and are currently being distributed as a part of the Annenberg Collection and by Worth Publishers
"What I wanted to do was retain the scientific substance and leave all the fluff behind," he said. "You take all the good content, visualization and information of a program and reconstitute it, and it fits into a classroom very effectively." His newest project, "The Social Connection," is being done with Butler, David Myers and Martin Bolt. They will produce short videos for high school and college classrooms explaining concepts such as altruism, violence, conformity and how individual behavior is influenced by social context.
Vattano, a 1958 graduate of Colorado State, earned master’s and doctoral degrees in psychology from Ohio State University. His teaching and service awards include the 1996-97 State Board of Agriculture Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and the prestigious Eddy Teacher Award and Honors Professor awards. Since 1990, he has worked with the College Board and Educational Testing Service to develop the advanced placement test for high school psychology students.
Created by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in 1981, the U.S. Professors of the Year program is the only national award that recognizes college and university professors for their teaching. This year, 15 faculty members were nominated from Colorado (among more than 400 nationally) and evaluated on their impact and involvement with undergraduates, their scholarly approach to teaching and learning, their contributions to undergraduate education within the institution, community and profession and support from colleagues and students.