Parker University is very happy to honor Dr. Rebecca McGill for her innovative and engaging teaching practices with the Parker University Distinguished Educator of the Year Award. Established in 2012, the award is a key part of the comprehensive strategy to include active and authentic learning experiences. To be considered for the award, faculty members must demonstrate how they promote learning-centered education in their classrooms. The award has an extensive vetting process dedicated to truly moving the ball on classroom practice. Faculty must submit letters of recommendation, a digital demonstration highlighting their active and authentic learning strategies, and narratives describing their teaching philosophies and histories. Earning the award is a singular honor, recognizing not simply popularity with students or depth of expertise but the true ability to create and share new teaching practices and successes – to serve students and fellow teachers equally through their innovation and effort. A selection committee of faculty, staff, and students reviews these submissions and selects the winner using established criteria, and then presents the award at the annual Symposium on Teaching and Learning.
Rebecca McGill, DC, Assistant Professor of Chiropractic Sciences, submitted her application to this award this with a simple hope, “that you will experience the passion and commitment I have for enriching the learning process and improving the success of our students, both inside the classroom and beyond.” Dr. McGill is a healthcare professional was driven to teaching out of a desire to help more patients than she could reach herself. For her beyond the classroom does not simply mean the coffee shop or quad between classes, it means the future masses of patients in the world who will be cared for by her students. As such, she says, “my desire as an educator has been to guide and develop their skills in the classroom not in such a way that they rely on me for the source of all their learning, but instead that they learn ‘how to learn’ so that when I am no longer their instructor, they can know how to find the right answers without me.”
That focus on teaching students ‘how to learn’ has a real effect on her role in the classroom. Many teaching approaches talk about putting the student first, but with Dr. McGill it seems to be more about putting the student out in front, “I have learned that the longer I stay out of the discussion, the more they look to one another, and to their course resources for the answers themselves. This is important to me, because I only get to be their ‘instructor’ for one trimester, and then it is up to them to find answers to questions they develop… I am instilling a quest for knowledge in each of them throughout this process.” According to Dr. McGill the key to this learning process is feedback – learning to give and receive true and useful feedback is the best way to ensures growth and learning through any classroom task.
Her communications course, for instance, features many presentations, as one would expect, but no presentation is complete without an impromptu session in which students provide feedback. Modeling and scenarios are also critical components of her method, doctors need to know how to deliver difficult or awkward news, cultivating compassion and gentility in student interactions with each gives them the tools to make a real difference in their patients care. In every class she makes it her goal to teach students both how to use and apply this concept and to model it as well, so that her students see that she believes in her techniques.
Creating better opportunities for mentoring and models are another portion of her work recognized through the award. Chiropractic has a particular need for this aspect of education as chiropractors are absolutely essential themselves as advocates for their profession and their patients. Dr. McGill also has a special relationship to mentoring as she had the benefit of a built-in chiropractic mentor in her father, a chiropractor since 1979. To pay that gift back, she is very focused on her own growth as a faculty member, “I am never satisfied with ‘good enough’ in any course I teach. Instead, I consistently elicit specific feedback related to the overall design of the course, the assignments within, and the general perceptions of the students who are engaged in the learning process within any particular course.” Parker University hopes this award will serve as some excellent feedback on Dr. McGill’s service, drive, and creativity as an educator.
About Parker University
Dallas-based Parker University, formerly known as Parker College of Chiropractic, is one of the world’s leading educators of health care professionals. Founded in 1982, this private, nonprofit, educational institution prepares men and women to become doctors of chiropractic and other leaders in health care-related professions. Parker University offers twelve different degree programs as well as continuing education specializations and certifications. Parker University also includes the Parker Research Institute, which provides sound, scientific evidence supporting health and wellness; two chiropractic wellness clinics in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex; Parker Seminars, the largest chiropractic seminar organization in the world, and Parker SHARE Products that provide innovative, high quality products, and current information on chiropractic wellness. For additional information about Parker University, visit the website at www.parker.edu.