Friday, June 09, 2017

FAMU faculty member uses innovative teaching methods

By FAMU CAFS Magazine Staff

The 2016-2017 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) junior faculty Teaching Innovation Award (TIA) was presented to Jenelle Robinson, Ph.D., of the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS).

The award, which is given to a senior and junior faculty member, recognizes an outstanding faculty member who has demonstrated and implemented the use of non-traditional teaching strategies, approaches, techniques, or tools to produce measurable gains for student outcome.  It also exemplifies their respective efforts on exploring new ways of teaching that impacts the capacity of the students to think critically.

Robinson, who was selected from a group of eight finalists, joined the CAFS faculty in 2015 as an assistant professor in the Food Science program and in her 16 months has made her mark as an excellent and innovative instructor. At the beginning of her tenure, the courses in the program were only taught face-to-face. By spring 2016, she transitioned the face-to-face method of teaching to either hybrid or fully online methods. The enhancement brought value to the college while providing flexible alternatives for the students. As a result of Robinson’s work, courses were enhanced and students took a more disciplined role in their learning.

“I use multiple methods to facilitate student engagement in my classes. I have used games, nutrition apps and simulated research conferences to engage students,” Robinson said.  “I have a heart for the arts and have used educational videos, current music videos, as well as, spoken word poetry to initiate engagement,” she added.

One innovative activity Robinson used during the fall semester was “Take 5,” where previously assigned groups had five minutes to “creatively” introduce the topic for the week. Students used technology and created games, videos and skits to display their assigned topics.

In Robinson’s classes, students gain motivation through relevancy, meaning all lectures and presentations include visuals, technology, group activity and discussion items that connect to millennials. She also incorporates humor, human interest stories and motivational quotes to keep things interesting.  Case studies are also used.

“I provide an opportunity for students to commit to service and experientially learn. One significant example is the Fat, Food and Fit Figures event I organized,” she said. “Students saw nutrition in action while becoming participatory learners in the process,” she added.

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