Students acknowledged Grotzer for being “warm,” “brilliant,” and “inspirational” but mostly for being so “caring.”
At the HGSE Convocation on Wednesday, May 29, Grotzer was honored with the Morningstar Family Teaching Award, presented annually to a faculty member for his or her generosity in providing time and support to students.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to teach at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Our students are amazing people who could choose any career that they wish. They come here from all over the world to dedicate their brilliance, idealism, and hard work to making a difference for learners everywhere,” Grotzer said. “To be a part of their collective experience is a gift that I cherish so being appreciated by them through this award is the most special honor that I can imagine.”
The award includes a $5,000 prize and recognition on a plaque hung on campus. Grotzer was nominated along with 46 other faculty members, with 271 students making nominations.
The Morningstar Family Teaching Award recipient was chosen using a three-stage process. In the spring, HGSE master’s and doctoral students submitted nominations for faculty members via an online poll. After reviewing all submissions, an advisory committee provided additional feedback on the nominees. Based on student testimonials and input from the student advisory committee, representatives from the dean’s office then selected the honoree.
Grotzer, who joined the HGSE Faculty in 2005, identifies ways in which understandings about the nature of causality impact our ability to deal with complexity in our world. A cognitive scientist, she directs the Understandings of Consequence Research Unit and also works with Professor Chris Dede, focusing on developing and testing technological tools including virtual worlds and handheld mobile devices to teach the inherent ecosystems complex causal dynamics to middle school students.
Grotzer’s courses focus on the intersection of cognition and science and aim to facilitate public understanding of science. She is deeply committed to helping teachers use the knowledge gained through her research and has authored the Causal Patterns in Science curriculum series. In 2012, she published the book, Learning Causality in a Complex World.
In 2011, she received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the United States government to young professionals beginning their independent research careers.
Current faculty members who have received the Morningstar Award include Professor Paul Harris, Lecturer Terry Tivnan, Senior Lecturers Kay Merseth and Joe Blatt, and Professors Bridget Terry Long, Catherine Snow, John Willett, Richard Murnane, and Monica Higgins.