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Alumna receives Scholarship of Teaching and Learning award

Kathryn Kao

March 23, 2017

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Hillary Steiner (MA '00, PhD '03), associate professor of educational psychology in the department of first-year and transition studies at Kennesaw State University, recently received the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) award from the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents.

Hillary Steiner

Selected from nominations submitted annually by the presidents of the University System, the award honors faculty members who are committed to student-focused research on effective teaching.

"I find tremendous value in studying my own teaching through empirical inquiry and helping other faculty learn how to do the same," said Steiner, who also serves as KSU's associate director of learning communities. "My background in educational psychology is particularly appropriate for the social science framework often used in interdisciplinary SoTL."

SoTL, or the application of traditional empirical research techniques to the study of college student learning, is a research method Steiner has grown increasingly interested in over the years. While teaching first-year students at KSU, she began to integrate her knowledge of educational psychology with her desire to improve classroom settings.

Today, Steiner contributes to the progression of this movement in higher education by teaching other faculty members how to incorporate SoTL into their own research programs. She even created an interactive online faculty development course designed to encourage and support SoTL within first-year student learning communities.

"The course began as a service to KSU learning community's faculty in the 2015-16 academic year, but when I began sharing the details of the course to faculty at other institutions through presentations and publications, it generated attention within the field," said Steiner. "At the encouragement of my colleagues at other institutions, I worked to expand and improve the course in order to offer it to faculty external to KSU."

As a Board of Regents award winner, Steiner will receive $5,000 and a certificate of achievement at the Regents' Scholarship Gala on March 31.

Steiner's work is focused on self-regulation and metacognition, which she applies to all of her classes by modeling and promoting planning, goal setting, reflection and self-evaluation. In 2003, she received her doctoral degree in educational psychology with a concentration in applied cognition and development from the College of Education.

"As much as I encourage metacognitive reflection for my students, I also practice it myself," said Steiner. "Many of my SoTL projects are done in phases, allowing me to use the evidence I've gathered to improve my teaching and allowing my teaching to influence the next phases of my research."

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