Faculty Focus: Alyson Muff

Alyson Muff Inspires Her Students With Humor and Encouragement

By Alice Manning |   August 2009

Alyson Muff , Faculty

Mathematical Sciences
School of Undergraduate Studies

For University of Maryland University College (UMUC) faculty member Alyson Muff, teaching is not just her profession, but also her passion. As a professor of math and statistics, Muff explains, “I first have to dispute and dispel the myths behind ‘I can’t do math,’ and create a classroom environment in which the students feel safe and feel that their teacher is their ally.” She does this by putting the students at ease with humor, telling them, “Math is practice. If we did math problems as much as we ‘texted,’ we’d all be math geniuses.” Then Muff reassures them that, “there will be no tears or fear of failure. You won’t fail.”
Armed with a teacher who believes in them “heart and soul,” Muff’s students are able to succeed in her classes and, in turn, acknowledge her contribution to their success. Her students have nominated her for the Stanley J. Drazek Teaching Excellence Award in every semester of her six years at UMUC.
Muff is proud of her successes as a teacher and attributes it to her training in math, statistics and also psychology. She is a trained psychologist and “became an educational psychologist, spending a decade learning how different people learn and how to accommodate learning styles.” She has used this training not just at UMUC, but also at several universities in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and at the National Rehabilitation Center and the Washington Hospital Center, where she helps brain-injured individuals retain cognitive abilities.
Muff says that every course she teaches is rewarding and that her colleagues inspire her. “My colleagues—like Dr. John Beyers, director of mathematics and statistics at UMUC, and Dr. Kathy Warner, assistant dean of social, behavioral, natural and mathematical sciences at UMUC—are more than teachers and professionals. They are icons, unmatched talent in their subject areas and in understanding how to teach and when to teach it.”
Muff loves everything about her experience at UMUC, but says, “The camaraderie, the hands-down commitment to the student body, the flexibility in understanding how to teach, how people learn and, mostly, a constant commitment to self-education and being aware of the changes that impact the knowledge that surrounds us” is what makes her proud to be a part of the UMUC community.