Innovation has become a byword for Horace Crogman. As an associate professor of physics at CSUDH, he is a vocal advocate for active learning strategies in the classroom.
What drives that innovation is a desire to find new educational pathways, not just for physics but for all academic disciplines. Crogman’s efforts to improve academic outcomes by creating deeper educational connections has earned him the 2023 Lyle E. Gibson Distinguished Teacher Award.
“This award is in part a vindication of my firm commitment to embracing new methodologies to reach students where they are and giving them the critical tools necessary for success,” Crogman says.
“I want every student to know how committed I am to their success, and I want them to look back on their time with me and feel that same commitment to help others learn in whatever way they can.”
Named in honor of Lyle E. Gibson, the late founding Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Distinguished Teaching Award acknowledges faculty who demonstrate a mastery of their subject matter, an understanding of broad areas of knowledge, a deep and active interest in student success, and the ability to engage students in new and creative ways.
“The major weakness of traditional pedagogy is that it’s disconnected from the students it tries to engage,” Crogman says. “Active learning considers the student as a whole and moves you from simply delivering content to forging a connection.”
In Fall 2022, Crogman spearheaded CSUDH’s involvement, along with nine other universities across the country, in a program that introduced virtual reality to the teaching of his introductory physics class. With assistance from CSUDH’s IT department, he created a VR lab where students learn via in-class lectures and VR-augmented learning.
“Virtual reality is an active learning situation that actually immerses students in places where I can’t go in a traditional lecture,” Crogman says, adding that students emerge from class in the VR lab motivated to excel by a more visceral engagement with the course work.
Read more about Horace Crogman in our Spring issue of CSUDH Magazine.
Crogman’s passion for teaching mirrors his own thirst for knowledge and a natural inclination to push boundaries. His intellectual curiosity as a graduate student, which was strongly encouraged by his professors at the time, ultimately led to a post-doctoral fellowship in France, where he was able to make important contributions to our understanding of molecular physics.
“This is what I want for my students. I don’t think about deficit mindsets,” Crogman says. “I give my students the freedom to explore in an environment I create to provide certain skill sets. That’s why I say that educators must master many pedagogies, because they each allow you to connect to students in different ways.”
That connection with students is vital to Crogman’s educational philosophy and to the legacy he hopes to leave behind. “I want every student to know how committed I am to their success, and I want them to look back on their time with me and feel that same commitment to help others learn in whatever way they can.”