Aha! Moments Motivate Award-Winning Math Lecturer
Ability to Share Love of Subject with Students Earns Dr. Brady McCary a President's Award
July 15, 2013
Dr. Brady McCary received his master’s and doctoral degrees at UT Dallas. He teaches college algebra, pre-calculus and calculus courses.
For Dr. Brady McCary, a senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at UT Dallas, the joy of teaching and the joy of learning come together at a special focal point.
“My favorite thing about teaching is connecting with students and seeing them achieve an ‘aha!’ moment,” McCary said.
McCary’s ability to facilitate those “aha!” moments was lauded recently when he received a President’s Outstanding Teaching Award. Based in part on student nominations, the award recognizes individuals whose teaching efforts contribute significantly to student learning and the mission of the University.
McCary, who teaches college algebra, pre-calculus and calculus courses, earned a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Texas A&M University before pursuing graduate studies at UT Dallas. He received his master’s degree in 2009 and his PhD in 2011, both in applied mathematics.
At a recent awards convocation, McCary was noted for his strong understanding of the subject, his ability to impart knowledge to his students, and his thought-provoking homework and exam questions.
In a nomination letter, one of McCary’s students said: “He enjoys his subject, and that carries over into his teaching, allowing students to appreciate and want to invest in their learning.”
“In mathematics, you start with relatively simple rules that define a system and then make beautiful conclusions about that system.”
“I chose math as a field of study and a career path because I enjoy it,” McCary said. “In mathematics, you start with relatively simple rules that define a system and then make beautiful conclusions about that system.”
McCary said he thinks students enjoy his classes because he shows as much detail as possible in solutions and he tries to relate mathematics to physically relevant situations.
“My general approach to student learning is to engage students linguistically with computations, and geometrically with illustrations – on every problem. I find that both are necessary for understanding mathematics,” he said.
While working on his master’s degree, McCary earned the Teaching Assistant of the Year Award from the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 2008. He has been a lecturer in the mathematical sciences department since 2010.
“Dr. McCary loves mathematics, and he passes that love on to his students,” said Dr. Matthew Goeckner, professor and head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences. “He also understands how mathematics impacts us through multiple walks of life. This too, he passes on to his students. Because Dr. McCary is so good at teaching this love and understanding, it is common to see students coming out of his office with smiles on their faces and looks of, ‘This stuff is neat!’”
“Understanding mathematics is essential for most areas of human endeavor. Unfortunately, some students find the subject dry or even scary,” Goeckner said. “This is where the excellent faculty at UT Dallas, such as Dr. McCary, can and do have life-long impacts on their students.”