On April 29th, Dr. Vanessa Slinger-Friedman, an Associate Professor of Geography in the Department of Geography and Anthropology, won the 2016 Regents’ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) Award. The Regents’ Award is one of the three highest honors for faculty at Georgia’s public colleges and universities, along with the Teaching Excellence Award and the Teaching Excellence Award for Online Teaching.
The Regents’ award is given to an educator who engages in the systematic examination of issues about student learning and instructional conditions that promote learning; documents the use of strategies for investigating and evaluating the impact of teaching practice on student learning; engages in scholarship that is public, peer reviewed and critiqued; produces scholarly work that contributes new questions and knowledge about teaching and learning; develops a well-articulated teaching philosophy; and disseminates the results of his or her research.
For Dr. Slinger-Friedman her passion for Geography began while she was growing up in Trinidad, in the Caribbean. She did 'O' (Ordinary) Level and 'A' (Advanced) Level exams in Geography, which meant that she studied physical and human geography intensively for 5 years. The Geographic perspective captivated her because it was such an amazing way to view and understand the spatial and ecological relationships we experience around the world. The same passion she felt for Geography during her studies remains the fuel for her continued desire to research and teach. According to Dr. Slinger-Friedman, one of her greatest thrills related to teaching Geography is experiencing students' reactions to finally understanding that geography is not just about being able to locate places on a map, but that it informs and trains them to be able to contribute to work on some of the complex issues that we as a society face today, and to be more socially and environmentally responsible employees.
When asked “What does receiving the Regents' Award mean to you?” Dr. Slinger-Friedman said,
“I am really excited and honored to have received this award. I was also proud to represent Kennesaw State University at the Regents’ Scholarship Gala this past April 29th. This award recognizes a portion of my work at KSU over the past 15 years, and I share the award with my research and publishing co-collaborators. The award reflects my goal to make my class room, whether it be face-to-face or online, a place of learning and not just a place of teaching. It is important to me that I reflect on the pedagogy that I implement in my classes by researching the impact of these teaching methods on students’ learning.”
Kennesaw State University is an institution that encourages research regarding teaching and learning. Dr. Slinger-Friedman shared that she has received encouragement, as well as financial and professional development and support for her SoTL research from many levels starting with her department chair, Susan Smith, through the CHSS Dean's office and the CHSS Office of Distance Education (ODE), as well as from the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at KSU. She believes that KSU is a fertile place to learn about and explore creative and innovative teaching methods for use in both face-to-face and online teaching formats, and to collaborate with faculty across disciplines on how to enhance student learning.
Written Interview and Photographs contributed by Dr. Vanessa Slinger-Friedman
Posted: May 9, 2016