By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Dr. Margot Morgan, assistant professor of political science, is the recipient of this year’s faculty innovation award, presented by the Institute of Teaching and Learning Excellence (ILTE).
The criteria for the award included consistency with best practices in teaching, the potential for cross-disciplinary adaptation, evidence of student impact, originality and the appropriate or novel adaptation of a pedagogical approach.
This year’s field consisted of eight instructors: Dr. Anne Allen, Dr. Patricia Gettings, Dr. Ken Harris, Dr. Gretchen Kirchner, Jennifer Lathem, Morgan, Dr. Jennifer Ortiz, and Dr. Susan Ridout.
According to Dr. Robin Morgan, ILTE director, selecting one winner from among this talented group was difficult, because each excelled in unique and important ways.
“Margot’s work is engaging and cross-disciplinary,” Morgan said. “Her efforts have already led to adoption of her approach by faculty in other disciplines and has the potential to engage students in deep learning on topics.”
Margot Morgan has introduced elements of theater into her history courses via structured role-playing that relies on students to make informed decisions in significant events such as the French Revolution.
Fusing her knowledge of the workshops of playwright Bertolt Brecht from 1920s Berlin with the cutting-edge Reacting to the Past (RTP) role-play model, Morgan creates a teaching and learning experience that encourages students to prepare thoroughly, use information to make decisions, and reflect on the consequences of those decisions, in dialogue with what actually happened.
The result is a more nuanced understanding of key turning points in history from the inside out.
For the staff of ILTE, including Dr. Robin Morgan, Carrie Jo Coaplen, instructional designer and technology specialist, and David Rainbolt, technology coordinator, innovation is not valued for its own sake, but for its role in enhancing student learning. The so-called “active learning” approaches employed by all the nominees, which provide more room for individual responsibility and initiative, have been shown to help students form a deeper connection with subject matter across the disciplines, and this connection translates into a higher likelihood of degree attainment.
In this way, the award goes beyond the recognition of one instructor’s achievement to celebrate and promote a broader academic culture of innovation across campus.
ILTE launched the award in 2016, with monthly web profiles sharing the innovations of eight faculty candidates. The award recognizes the time and energy that all instructors invest in revising teaching methods and creating engaging and challenging approaches. In essence, all of the instructors who have found unconventional means to inspiring their students to learn are “winners.”
In presenting the award to Morgan, Chancellor Wallace recognized all participating faculty members as an inspiration to other educators to try new approaches that more actively involve their students in their own learning journeys.
“The faculty highlighted in our Faculty Innovation Award ceremony today all share a central theme: As teacher-scholars at a campus which prides itself on engaged teaching, these faculty members, working in their respective disciplines, all are trying to create the next generation of citizens who ‘get’ the importance of local, regional, national, and global connections,” Wallace said. “They are all a great credit to this campus and I am proud to call them colleagues.”
If a faculty member is aware of a colleague who deserves recognition, they are free to recommend someone or themselves for being recognized as a monthly innovator by contacting the ILTE. The ILTE accepts recommendations (and self-recommendations) for the monthly ILTE innovators on a rolling basis. Each faculty member who is recommended will be contacted and asked about their innovations. Eight will be selected each year to be highlighted as one of the monthly ILTE innovators. The award recipient will be selected from this pool of eight monthly ILTE Innovators. The ILTE is currently accepting nominations for the 2018-2019 monthly innovators.
Homepage photo: Chancellor Dr. Ray Wallace presents the award for faculty innovation to Dr. Margot Morgan.