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Dr. Devin Burns, Lt. Oscar Kemp, Dr. Kathleen Sheppard and Jacob Sherry received awards for their roles in service and experiential learning. They received the awards during a ceremony hosted by the Center for Faculty Excellence (CAFE) on Dec. 4.
The Experiential Learning Award recognizes faculty and staff who require undergraduate students to go beyond mastering basic skills and knowledge in the application of that material to problem solving challenges.
The Service Learning Award recognizes faculty and staff who involve or influence undergraduate students in academic service learning or community service activities outside the classroom.
Dr. Devin Burns, assistant professor of psychological science, received the Faculty Experiential Learning Award. He was recognized for overhauling a class, Psych 2200: Research Methods. The class is required for all students majoring in psychology and is one of their most statistical and computer-extensive classes. Instead of merely talking about research in this class, Burns guides his students through conducting professional psychological research.
Lt. Oscar Kemp, of the University Police, received the Staff Service Learning Award. He was recognized for demonstrating the value of partnerships, integrity and engagement — the mantra of the University Police department. Kemp leads the police department’s student work team (campus service officers). In this role, he teaches student workers the basics of campus security while also instilling in students the importance integrity and community service. He works with student employees and student organizations to raise funds for various charities, including S&T’s food pantry, Student Emergency Fund, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the Special Olympics.
Dr. Kathleen Sheppard, associate professor of history and political science, received the Faculty Experiential Learning Award. In 2017, Sheppard, with the support of the Wikipedia Education Foundation, introduced a semester-long assignment in her History of Science in Latin America course to promote student engagement and support student learning. Pairs of students selected an article related to science and Latin America on Wikipedia to edit. They analyzed the article for content gaps, did research, and wrote additional text that was then peer-reviewed. Using critical thinking, research, writing, and editing skills and their own knowledge from STEM fields, the students wrote for a public audience within the standards of scholarly publication. By the end of the first semester, the 26 students in the class added 28,300 words to Wikipedia in 11 different articles ranging from Aztec society to Spanish Missions in the Americas. Their edited articles have been viewed close to one million times.
Jacob Sherry, manager of community standards and student leadership, received the Staff Experiential Learning Award. He was recognized for his persistent efforts to engage students in experiential learning and self-reflection.
Sherry serves as a conduct officer for the office of the dean of students and coordinates residence hall government efforts as an advisor. In addition to advising the Residence Hall Association, he has coached the other professional staff advisors in residential life on how to have conversations with hall government leaders regarding what they learned and accomplished during the semester. Through this, both students and advisors were able to learn from each other, communicate more effectively and support one another.