URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award
The URI Foundation Excellence Awards were first established in 1970 to honor University staff members for their dedication and commitment. Each year, following an extensive nomination process led by a member of the URI Foundation Executive Board, one individual is chosen to receive the award.
Professor Catherine Sama of Pawtucket teaches a wide range of Italian language and culture courses and courses on Italian literature and film. Her research explores how 18th century Italian women created spaces for themselves in literary and artistic professions. While her research is focused on women of centuries past, Sama’s teaching methods are decidedly modern. She was arranging Skype sessions for her students to communicate with native speakers when Skype was still a foreign word to most people. For her department, she piloted the online platform “Talk Abroad,” which allows students to have video conversations in their target language, improving conversational skills and building cultural competence. In a new course this fall, Sama’s students read Italian children’s stories then worked in groups to write and illustrate their own stories, which were presented to a fifth-grade class in Lentiai, Italy. The children provided feedback in real time.