By Christopher Smith
After Christy Price was named a 2012 U.S. Professor of the Year, her 9-year-old son Cal was worried she would get assassinated. In her acceptance speech, Price assured him that, despite some “harsh realities of the subculture in which we live,” no one would hurt her.
Price, a Dalton State College psychology professor, was selected as the top professor for baccalaureate colleges on Thursday by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The event was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Her recognition comes from years of research in teaching “information-savvy millennials” who were born as early as the late 1970s and who learn differently from previous generations, college officials said.
“(They) expect content to be connected to the current culture so that it is relevant to them and their future,” Price said. “As educators, we need to provide relaxed learning environments by utilizing a variety of research-based teaching methods. And millennials also expect professors to show interest in them and build positive rapport as well as provide a rationale for assignments and course policies so they can understand their purpose and see their benefit.”
Price believes teachers need to adapt to the diversity of millennials to prepare them for a globally-connected world.
“I think we’ve come a long way with diversity, but we still have a long way to go,” she said. “I’m constantly worried about students. People coming out of college need to know how to be in a global world where they can work with people who believe differently.”
Price thinks it’s possible, having seen acceptance at Dalton State concerning her relationship with partner Jean Garland.
“I feel like our campus tries really hard, and I personally have felt accepted as someone who is different in some way,” she said. “I worry more about my students because I hear regularly that they do not have that same experience. I had a colleague who was African-American, who said he had some students who never had a black teacher before. There’s still a fear in the unknown. For our area, it can be an issue.”
And an issue in the workplace, Price said.
“When I think about the things that employers are looking for ... they want communication skills, ability to solve problems, ability to work on teams, and the ability to appreciate and accept others and to be able to work with each other,” she said. “That definitely needs to be part of the college education to engage students to open their minds to things they might normally close off to. It’s something we need to teach.”
Price believes teaching needs to be more relationship-driven.
“I think just asking students questions is critical,” she said. “I’m constantly asking them what I can do to help them learn. I think you have to realize that kids are coming into class with all kinds of backgrounds — working jobs, raising families, and so on.”
Several education organizations agree with Price’s approach. She was awarded the 2010 Professor of the Year for Georgia from CASE, the 2009 National First Year Student Advocate Award from the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and the University System of Georgia Teaching Excellence Award in 2008.
Price says such recognition doesn’t belong to her.
“(It) belongs to my colleagues at Dalton State where I have been so inspired by the recent revolution in learning-centered teaching among our faculty,” she said. “I need to thank Dr. Sandra Stone, our vice president of academic affairs and my nominator, as the catalyst for that movement.”
Stone is highly complimentary of Price.
“No one has a stronger awareness that teaching is meaningless without reliable assurances of learning,” Stone said of Price. “She is dynamic, innovative and student-centered, approaching teaching with an ever-fresh perspective and a learning-centered lens.”
Price said she will celebrate her most recent award by spending time sight-seeing in Washington with Garland, Cal and family from Chicago.
Christy Price focuses on the “five Rs” for engaging millennial learners who respond best when course content is relevant to them and their future and is delivered in a relaxed learning environment by instructors employing a variety of research-based teaching methods. Instructors, she says, should show interest and build positive rapport with their students as well as provide a rationale for assignments and course policies so students understand their purpose and see their benefit.
Source: Dalton State College
Christy Price says her philosophy was formed from her experiences camping when she was young. “The basic rule was always to leave the campground looking better than we found it,” she said. “The planet and those on it should be better off as a result of the contributions we make.”