The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

David Dollar-SE Campus

By Marley Malenfant/se news editor

Students who attend David Dollar’s chemistry courses may think of him as a local Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Science fascinated Dollar when he was growing up. A science fair project pushed him to pursue a career in teaching.

“I put it together and entered it in the Fort Worth regional science fair,” he said. “That particular project was selected best in fair. And I got to compete in the international science fair. They flew me there. It was my first time flying. Right then, I figured, ‘OK, I think I got a knack for this science thing.’ As I continued my studies in college, I thought, ‘You know, there really is a better way to teach this material instead of just having to study the book.’”

Dollar, who has taught for 25 years and is in his 10th on SE Campus, was awarded the 2010 Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching.

Previously, Dollar was a Fort Worth ISD teacher for 14 years.

Dollar’s parents were teachers. His mother was a professor at Texas Wesleyan. His father was a science teacher.

“I come from I guess what I would call the Dollar legacy,” he said. “My parents were educators for over 60 years together combined.”

Dollar said his approach to teaching is unorthodox compared to other science teachers. He wants his material to be as approachable as possible, and he wants immediate feedback from his students.

“I know chemistry is a very difficult subject, so I try to take the complex topics we cover and break them down to parts,” he said. “I try to break it down piece by piece. I also try to make my teachings centered. I’ll lecture for a few minutes, and then I’ll give them something to try. Kind of like, ‘You try it now, and I’ll see if you understood what I said.’”

Dollar said not wanting his lectures to become stagnant inspired him to use the feedback approach during his lectures.

“I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the attention span, and I understand that it’s about five minutes,” he said. “I’m thinking, ‘OK, I’m talking for an hour and 20 minutes, and they’ve checked out on me after five minutes.’ I just think that the more they have with the material, the better off they’re going to learn.”

Dollar said student dependence on technology has taken away listening skills in the classroom, but he finds ways to use it to their advantage.

“It’s changed since I’ve started with this technology age,” he said. “Students are so connected to cell phones and texting and Facebook and MySpace. I think the attention span has decreased. It’s not the same anymore.

“When I was a student, we listened and took notes. [Now,] I put my lecture notes on CampusCruiser and let the students use their laptops during lecture. Doing things the same old way isn’t going to work. We’ve got to keep up with what society is doing.”

SE student Valerie Fortiz, who is a dental hygienist major, said Dollar’s style of teaching isn’t as complex as other professors.

“He goes over the material and makes it easy as can be,” she said. “At the end of class, he gives us tons of handouts, and he doesn’t give you quizzes all the time like other professors.”

SE student Misty Goolsby said her experience with chemistry discouraged her until she took Dollar’s class.

“I was scared of chemistry at first,” she said. “The first day of class I told him I was scared, and he explained everything in a way everybody could understand it. Chemistry still isn’t my favorite subject, but he helps me.”

SE student Ryan Wilson said Dollar gives his students visual aids.

“He uses lots of PowerPoint and lets us take pictures of things like the model atoms we use for the lab,” he said.

Dollar said what matters most in his teaching career is changing a student’s negative idea of chemistry into a positive vibe.

“The highlight of my teaching career is especially when a negative student comes in with a real negative attitude and thinks my expectations are too high,” he said. “And seeing that turn into a positive experience for them and they turn into more of a positive student, I think that is definitely one of the highlights of any semester.”

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