Breaking Out of the Classroom
November 25, 2014
For Dr. Jordan Daniel, being named a 2014–15 Community-Engaged Faculty Fellow at Angelo State University is an opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice, between the classroom and the surrounding community.
Daniel, an assistant professor of kinesiology, is one of five ASU faculty in the third cohort of Community-Engaged Faculty Fellows, a program launched in 2012.
“We are embracing the principles of learning-based strategies,” Daniel said. “We want our students to learn that education is not preparation for life, it is life itself. They can take these strategies and apply them to other questions in life. We will have better-equipped students and better-equipped people.”
The showcase is a component of ASU’s CONNECT! Campus and Community program, which is the centerpiece of ASU’s efforts to enhance the educational experience for students through hands-on practices like service learning and internships. It is headed by Dr. Doyle Carter, director of ASU’s Center for Community Engagement.
“A fellowship program is a way for faculty to be recognized for their innovative teaching strategies,” Carter said, “in this case, for their teaching strategies that incorporate community engagement, real-world, hands-on involvement in the community.”
Each cohort of faculty fellows serves two years, the second year as mentors to the incoming group.
Dr. Christine Purkiss, associate professor of teacher education, was a member of the first cohort. She applied for the fellowship because she saw it as an opportunity to develop an idea to enhance her science methods class.
Most of her students are not science majors but are planning to get the generalist certification to teach in elementary schools, and science will be part of the curriculum.
“I wanted to have students actually work with something science-related in the community,” Purkiss said. “I wanted my students to learn something about science so they could use it in their teaching.”
Thanks to the fellowship, she reached out to people in the San Angelo community who were scientists or working in science-related areas, such as Christy Youker, director of the Upper Colorado River Authority’s Water Education Center, and Mandy Scott of the Fisheries Division of Texas Parks and Wildlife.
We want our students to learn that education is not preparation for life, it is life itself.
“I teach by inquiry,” Purkiss said. “We don’t lecture in first grade. You have to do things, you have to show kids how things work. That’s what the CONNECT! course did, it showed our students how science works.”
“I think for some of my students it was a chance to get over a kind of science phobia,” Purkiss continued. “It created a kind of ‘ah-ha’ moment. They were out collecting huge fish as specimens at night, surveying the Concho River by kayak, volunteering at the annual Eco Fair and at Alta Loma Elementary School’s Science Night. They were getting their hands on something. I think it made the science a little more real for them.”
Daniel, as a member of the current cohort, has been working to enhance a course called Aspects of Psychology for Sports and Recreation. His students researched topics such as overtraining and the mental as well as physical requirements of recovering from a sports injury. Working in small teams, the students then created videos for the YouTube online channel.
“The projects will serve to highlight the difference between research and empirical evidence and anecdotal evidence,” Daniel said. “They are coming from a kind of personal direction but the empirical evidence, the research, is the important result.”
Darian Glenn, a junior from Mansfield, portrays an overtrained track athlete in his team’s video.
“We are using light humor, then we’ll drive the point home,” Glenn said. “The body isn’t a machine. The body needs time off. The body gains from rest. We want to confirm through research the benefits of rest, both mentally and physically.”
Using YouTube for community engagement means the students potentially could reach a global audience.
“Through YouTube, these videos are probably going to be seen by more people than my last journal article,” Daniel said. “It puts a little more responsibility on their shoulders. Research is not supposed to be in an ivory tower, it’s supposed to be useful.”
Though her fellowship requirement is completed, Purkiss continues to integrate the lessons she learned into her classes.
“I think being named a fellow gave me an opportunity,” she said, “to try something new in my class, make my students better teachers and, possibly most important, make my students aware of how important they are to their community and what it means to be socially responsible.”
More information on ASU’s Center for Community Engagement is available online.