Top of the Class: Faculty Member Gains National Recognition for Excellence in Teaching

November 10, 2008

Editor: For a print-quality photo of Susie Whittington, contact Martha Filipic at filipic.3@cfes.osu.edu.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A faculty member in Ohio State University's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences has been recognized nationally for her teaching.

Susie Whittington, associate professor in the Department of Human and Community Resource Development, was honored Nov. 10 with the USDA Excellence in Teaching Award. The award was announced at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (http://www.nasulgc.org/).

"This is the highest teaching award among colleges of agriculture and related sciences nationwide," said Linda Martin, associate dean and director of undergraduate programs. Previously, Carl Zulauf won the same honor in 1995 for teaching in agricultural economics. Other faculty members from Ohio State have been honored on the regional level: Ann Christy, Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering, in 2005; Keith M. Irvin, Animal Sciences, in 2003; and Bernard L. Erven, Agricultural Economics, in 1999.

Whittington is recognized as a national leader in research on student cognitive engagement. And she puts her expertise to practice in the classroom: Her teaching methods promote a careful combination of participation, quiet time, problem-solving, group interaction and cooperative learning in a professional atmosphere, in which she consistently shows enthusiasm for the subject matter as well as the well-being of the students.

The combination has resulted in high ratings on student evaluations and, more importantly, the development of future teachers who understand from first-hand experience the difference that good teaching methods can make.

One such student, Mindy Lohrey, said as much in her letter supporting Whittington's nomination for the award. Calling Whittington's classes "challenging, engaging and relevant," Lohrey, currently a graduate student in the College of Education and Human Ecology, added: "The first lesson Dr. Whittington impressed upon me is that how you make students feel is invaluable and can empower a person for a lifetime. ... Her energy and enthusiasm for teaching and learning is unparalleled, and the impact she has had on my life and the lives of countless others is unsurpassed."

Whittington, who has also taught at the University of Idaho and Penn State, earned her bachelor's degree (1982), master's degee (1988) and doctorate (1991) in agricultural education at Ohio State. In 2004, she co-authored the textbook "Methods of Teaching Agriculture" with L.H Newcomb, David McCracken and Robert Warmbrod.

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Author(s): 
Martha Filipic
Source(s): 
M. Susie Whittington