Wednesday, February 17, 2016

OU-C faculty member Donna Burgraff publishes article in educational journal

By public relations student writer Madison Corbin

Higher Education for the Future, a multi-disciplinary journal dedicated to reviewing and rejuvenating higher education based on educators’ experiences, recently published the work of associate professor of Education and Technical and Applied Studies at OU-C, Donna L. Burgraff, Ed.D.

In the article, Burgraff discusses the opportunities for creativity and critical thinking that a classroom setting without a textbook invites. Her personal pedagogy forsakes the use of textbooks and, instead, implements best-selling books, technology-based presentations and student writings into the course of curriculum. These unconventional means of education, she claims, propel enhanced participation and higher levels of success in her students’ work.

“Students indicate that they feel more intellectually challenged,” said Burgraff. “The ideal outcome is more significant learning that will stay with them throughout their careers.”

Burgraff has given presentations pertaining to her innovative, student-focused classroom methods in recent years at the West Virginia Department of Education Institutional Education Conference in Morgantown and the Scholastic Inquiry’s International Academic Research Conference in San Francisco.  The latter, entitled “No More Textbooks: Changing How We Structure Classes,” won the Best Conference Presentation award.

“Making the learning that goes on in my classroom more relevant is what inspired me,” said Burgraff.  “I want the work students do in my classes to be as closely related to what they will encounter in the workplace as much as possible.”

Although standard classroom structure revolves around the narrative of a textbook, Burgraff employs innovation to give the individuals present more power over the material, and how they approach it. Her concerns for a learner’s experience are primarily practical.

“The benefits are immediate. First, they save money on the cost. Second, they read the books, which does not always happen in a traditional setting,” said Burgraff. “Finally, they are more prepared for the tasks they must complete in the workplace.”

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