Deborah Carroll, professor of psychology, views her position as more of a journey than a job – a voyage she takes with her students each year and finds memorable, challenging and personally rewarding. But Carroll – who has taught as a full-time faculty member at Southern since 1994 – never imagined that journey would include recognition as the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Connecticut Professor of the Year.
The Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) have announced that Carroll is the 2012 recipient of the prestigious award. A professor of the year was chosen this year in 30 of 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia. A total of 300 professors were nominated throughout the nation for the various state awards.
“It is an honor to be named as the recipient of the award and I’m particularly honored to bring recognition to SCSU,” she says. “I hope it affords me opportunities to share discussions, strategies and information about teaching with colleagues at all levels of education.”
Carroll credits her late mother, RoseMarie Carroll, with playing a key role in her selection, as well as her career. She passed away in March.
“She valued education tremendously and instilled in me a burning desire for learning and all things educational,” she says. “I consider myself to be a life-long learner and hope I can inspire others to be the same.”
The Stratford resident said that on the first day of class each semester, she tells her students that they are on a journey together. “I’ve been to the destination before, but not with them,” she says. “I look forward to our exploring the territory together, and to my learning to see the territory through their eyes… I look forward to sharing with my students the joy and excitement of learning new things and new ways of seeing the world and each other.”
SCSU interim Provost Marianne Kennedy says the campus is thrilled that Carroll has been recognized with the award.
“Not only is she a gifted teacher and advisor, but she is also a gracious colleague, mentor and role model to other faculty,” Kennedy says. “She epitomizes the teacher-scholar that we all try to emulate.”
Judges for the competition evaluate nominees on four criteria:
Impact on and involvement with undergraduate studentsScholarly approach to teaching and learningContributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community and professionSupport from colleagues, as well as current and former undergraduate students
Carroll has been recognized during the last two years by both the SCSU and the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities communities. She was selected as the 2011 recipient of SCSU’s J. Philip Smith Outstanding Teaching Award. And she was named in 2012 as a university-level recipient of the Board of Regents/Connecticut State University Teaching Award.
Carroll has earned the praise of both colleagues and students.
Cheryl Durwin, assistant chairwoman of the SCSU Psychology Department, says Carroll teaches all of her courses as writing intensive because she believes in the power of writing to help students understand course material and to think critically.
“It is the way in which Debby does so that sets her apart,” Durwin says in a letter of support for Carroll. She points to an assignment in Carroll’s Psychopharmacology class – a course Carroll created — as an example. “Students were required to explain how a particular drug affects brain functioning and subsequent behavior, but they were to write their response as if they were explaining this effect to (an elementary school student),” Durwin says. “This type of assignment challenges college students not only to understand the concepts, but to demonstrate their knowledge by translating a very complex process into simple language.”
Carroll’s students often point out that while her classes are demanding, they actually understand what they are studying beyond what is necessary for the next test.
Kelly Webster, one of Carroll’s students who graduated earlier this year, says that is one of the characteristics that make her an effective teacher.
“Dr. Carroll is fundamentally concerned with students learning the material, rather than regurgitating it,” Webster says in a letter of support. “I’m sure every college student has taken at least one class in which their success was determined by a few multiple choice tests that could be crammed for,” Webster said. “Students walk out of these classes feeling happy about their ‘A’…but with no more knowledge about the subject matter than they started with. (Conversely), Dr. Carroll measures success in a manner that really encourages and evaluates understanding.”
The Professors of the Year program began in 1981, when one national winner was named. The awards program expanded in 1985 so that state winners were also named.
The Carnegie Foundation is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge. CASE is a professional association headquartered in Washington, D.C. that serves educational institutions and the advancement of professionals at all levels who work in alumni relations, communications, fundraising, marketing and other areas.