Innovative Teaching Method Honored at International Conference
Bethany Stone, associate teaching professor in the Division of Biological Sciences, was recognized, not once, but twice, by The International Conference on College Teaching and Learning. She received The Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology and the prestigious Ernest L. Boyer International Award for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology. This is the second year that the University of Missouri has won both awards. Stone was recognized for her creative ways of incorporating technology in the classroom.
“I think the fact that MU has won these awards twice is a testament to the support and emphasis the university and our departments place on teaching and learning,” says Stone. “MU provides many resources to help us expand our teaching and learning skills. I am additionally lucky to work in a department that provides financial and professional support for our classrooms, including the freedom to try new teaching strategies.”
Stone was selected to represent MU after a panel reviewed portfolios from nominees around campus that demonstrated their meaningful uses of technology in teaching. Each college nominates one full-time faculty member, and then each candidate submits a narrative addressing specific topics to be considered for the Boyer award.
“For our campus to receive both of these awards two years in a row is a really special honor for our campus as I believe it places MU among very few institutions in the world,” says James Spain, vice-provost of undergraduate studies.
In 2010, Stone started “flipping” her classes, which means the course content is delivered outside the classroom using lecture capture software. She breaks her lectures into seven- to ten-minute recordings for students to watch before coming to class. Students are also assigned readings, activities, and simulations, which are designed to cover the scientific concepts and introduce real-world applications of the content. Students demonstrate they have completed these activities by completing an online quiz. Classroom time is dedicated to troubleshooting difficult concepts, answering student questions, engaging students in active learning, and creating connections to everyday life.
“Students learn the content before coming to class, and the focus shifts away from the front of the room during class time to the faculty member being able to interact one-on-one with students,” says Stone.
Student reaction to this new way of learning has been positive—they understand the information better, test scores are higher, and attendance is increased.
“The data I have collected, the feedback from colleagues, and the recognition of these awards helps affirm this teaching strategy, which previously has been limited to small classroom settings,” says Stone.
Course materials and strategies developed as part of this program will be made available to all 14 of the four-year public institutions of higher learning in the state of Missouri in the future.
“Being recognized at a national and international level will help categorize MU as a place where technology isn't feared, but instead is used as a constructive tool for learning,” says Stone.
By Laura Lindsey, College of Arts and Science
April 23, 2012