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Assistant Professor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis Lam Pham Receives NC State’s 2023-24 Outstanding Teacher Award

NC State College of Education Assistant Professor Lam Pham

When Assistant Professor of Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis Lam Pham first began teaching in the NC State College of Education, the experience wasn’t quite what he imagined. 

Pham began his higher education teaching career during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, so instead of walking into a class full of students, his first class involved logging into Zoom from an empty office. 

“I remember going into my office for the first time that semester, with no one around in the building and starting class from my laptop. It felt strange to start without being near anyone physically, but all of my students were incredibly kind and welcoming,” Pham said. “Though I didn’t see anyone in person, it was still a deeply warm welcome to the college.” 

Both virtually and online, Pham has continued to be welcomed by and have an impact on College of Education students. Now, his efforts have been recognized with NC State’s 2023-24 Outstanding Teacher Award. 

The Outstanding Teacher Award recognizes creative and innovative teaching and learning practices at all levels. Faculty must be nominated by their peers and students, and become members of the Academy of Outstanding Teachers for the duration of their tenure at NC State. 

“The outstanding teacher award means a lot to me. It is a sign that I’m serving our students well and that I’m making sound instructional decisions in my classes,” Pham said. 

As a former student and teacher in schools that served low-income students, Pham’s personal experiences shape his research, which focuses on how personnel policies, including compensation, professional learning and performance evaluation, affect students in low-performing schools. Specifically, his work examines policies that are designed to build and maintain equitable distribution of diverse and effective teachers and principals in these schools. 

His initial choice to pursue a career in education, he said, was one that he felt was the right choice from the time he was in college. 

“I find teaching really fun. I like the process of trying to explain, creating practice opportunities, figuring out misconceptions and finding ways to address those misconceptions,” he said. “Education has always felt like a good fit for my strengths, ever since college. I’ve always thought it was the right long-term career path for me.” 

Currently, that path has led to Pham teaching quantitative research methods courses to doctoral students in the College of Education. It’s an experience, he said, that he hopes will inspire the next generation of educational researchers. 

“I really hope my students leave with a sense of the rich kinds of analyses they can do with quantitative data, and I also hope they leave with an increased desire to do that type of research work,” he said. “ It has been my pleasure working with students in the College of Education, and I am very grateful to be a part of our college community.”