Cichocki: Tough to Spell, Easy to Learn From
Published: Monday, April 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Professor Dianna Cichocki spends her day surrounded by numbers, computers, and students. When the class is dismissed, she starts her other job: being a mother.
Cichocki teaches statistical decisions in management at UB, but she hasn’t been teaching here for very long. With just under two semesters experience, Cichocki has quickly adapted to the professor’s lifestyle at a university.
“I took [Statistics Decisions in Management] last semester [with Professor Cichocki],” said Amilyn Corliss, a junior accounting major. “I really enjoyed her class. She always tried to make it fun, especially since it’s a distance learning class where some people can watch it online. She was really focused on making her students succeed.”
Before Cichocki came to UB, she gained experience teaching at different levels of education, ranging from middle school to community college. Her life plan was always to be a teacher.
“At St. John Fisher I had a professor who was fabulous [and] who said that all junior high teachers go to heaven,” Cichocki said. “So I started off in junior high and I thought I would pave my way that way.”
Cichocki continually changed what level of education she taught. She went from junior high, to high school, and eventually to Erie Community College (ECC) where she taught everything from basic math courses to calculus and statistics for 10 years.
During her tenure at ECC, she was rewarded for her exceptional effort and teaching style with two awards: an NYSAD excellence award in 2009 and a President’s Recognition Award for Instruction in 2010.
To win the awards, professors must attract special notice from both peers and students. She won the awards because of positive student evaluations, evaluations within her department, and the letters of recommendation.
They are proudly hung on the walls of her office – right next to paintings and drawings by her three children.
Cichocki’s ambition to teach has led her to several presentations to other educators at the state and national level. She is currently on the state board of the New York State Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges and the national board of American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges.
“I’ve given different presentations on using technology in statistics,” Cichocki said. “My students know that I like to use applets and I like to keep up with technology. I tell my students in my stats class that I want them to be able to use the tools that are out there to be able to perform the analysis rather than having to memorize formulas and having to plug in numbers. There are all these tools and you hold them in the palm of your hand.”
Cichocki’s has given presentations on teaching in online learning environments while at ECC and UB. Having been a member of the online learner’s group at UB and co-chair of the distance learning education for ECC, she frequently gave insight on how to improve distance education and teaching through an online medium.
Professor Cichocki’s move to UB has been well received. After notifying ECC that she would not be returning, the school said it would hold her job for one year so that she could explore her other options. At UB, Professor Cichocki began to fit in right away.
“So far it has been fabulous,” Cichocki said. “It was different for me to teach in the digital access environment. I stand up there for an hour and 20 minutes and I don’t stop talking. It’s a completely different way of teaching than what I was used to so I was apprehensive of that, but I really like it.”
Her positive attitude trickles down to her students and is seen in her teaching style. It is not difficult to figure out that Cichocki cares about her students’ success, as she’ll often ask her previous students what they liked and disliked about her class when they come to visit.
“I love when students come back to me,” Cichocki said. “We have some good conversations and I really like that. I really appreciate that they are willing to go back and forth and they’re appreciative of the fact that I’m willing to listen to them and take into consideration how they think the course went.”
On the weekends, Cichocki changes roles from professor to mother. With two daughters and one son, she rarely has any time for herself. On a typical weekend, her life revolves around her family and its needs.
“You’ll find me running to hockey practice, you’ll find me picking up my daughter from softball practice or bringing somebody to a friend’s house,” Cichocki said. “We go to church together as a family every Sunday, and every Sunday we’re at the hockey rink. I try to not miss any of my children’s events. I like to run and I try to read but it doesn’t go so well when you have three kids.”
Between being a sports fan, a mother, and a professor, Cichocki is doing all she can to teach lessons in the classroom as well as outside of it.