Philip Short, science education professor at Austin Peay, wins statewide educator of the year award


CLARKSVILLE, TN – An education professor at Austin Peay State University recently won the Tennessee Science Teachers Association’s Science Educator of the Year award in the higher education category.

Dr Philip Short – professor of science education and co-director of the Jack Hunt STEM Center at Eriksson College of Education with his wife, Dr Donna Short – accepted the award on October 29 in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Short won the award after colleges of education and STEM nominated him – a nod to his interdisciplinary approach at Austin Peay.

Dr Philip Short receives his award

“The nomination alone was exceptionally significant coming from both colleges as I feel the need to work with each other in my position,” said Short before adding humbly: “The awards are what they are, and there are had many more deserving people across the state. ”

Three Austin Peay professors collaborated on the nomination – Dr. John McConnell, Chair of the Department of Educational Specialties, Dr. Karen Meisch, Dean of the College of STEM, and Dr. Kallina Dunkle, Associate Dean of the College of STEM.

“They cheated on me a bit,” said Short. “John has repeatedly asked me to reduce my statement of teaching philosophy to one page (from three pages). He kept bugging me because, you know, other things happen, and so, eventually, I got him.

After that, Dunkle requested more information for the nomination and confessed to Short that they were nominating him for the award. He learned a few weeks before the lecture that he had won.

“It was a bit of a shock because before the pandemic I met about four times a year with my peers in the state who are directors of STEM centers,” said Short. “I know these people, and there are a lot of very good people in higher education.

“The collective goal for all of these people is to achieve better science education based on constructivist pedagogical approaches with a problem-based inquiry framework. ”

Lessons “aligned with the way scientists do science”

The statement of teaching philosophy that Short shared with McConnell helps define his goal for science education: appreciated. ‘”

The goal is for the students to come away comfortable with the “unknowns” of what they have learned while having the confidence to pursue their curiosity.

“At the heart of effective science education, behind and through all policy changes, is the responsibility to teach science in a way more aligned with how scientists do science,” the statement said. of Short’s teaching philosophy.

“We want to step off the scene, put the students in the driver’s seat and develop opportunities for them to explore so that they have a performance basis to assess what they understand,” said Short. “In a way that is culturally relevant, relevant to the community, where they can see why it matters.”

This concept is also found in the general information that he published with his teacher profile at Austin Peay: “My favorite moments are those when people (young and old) make a discovery and allow themselves to change their vision of the world. world.

“Better and more science teachers”

Short has over two decades of experience teaching middle and high school science and nearly two decades of experience in higher education.

He thanks his wife for guiding him on his way to Austin Peay, training future science teachers. She persuaded him to opt for the position of director of the STEM Center, which he started in 2016.

“Even though I was a high school teacher for a long time, it was very different for me,” he said. “I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you without Dr. Donna Short.”

His new job placed him at the Eriksson College of Education, but it was natural for him to get to know the people in the nearby science buildings, especially as the director of the STEM Center. This inter-university collaboration has benefited Austin Peay in recent years with outreach events such as “Science Fridays,” funded by a state-funded grant to encourage science graduates to become teachers.

“I have found that pretty much everyone I spoke to in College of STEM, understood the world of education so much, they all want better and more science teachers,” said Short. teachers who connect with students beyond textbooks, aligned with “how scientists do science”.


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