UAMS Graduate MacDonald Shares Experiences

UAMS Graduate Laura MacDonald, Ph.D., speaks to students at the third Graduate Student Teacher of Central Arkansas symposium.

Beatrice Boateng, Ph.D., associate professor and director in the department of pediatrics, talks on the importance of an electronic academic portfolio.

May 30, 2014 | When Laura MacDonald, Ph.D., started the UAMS Graduate Student Teachers of Central Arkansas (GSTCA) in 2012 as a graduate student, she did not imagine coming back three years later as a guest speaker.

MacDonald started the GSTCA with the help of Kristen Sterba, Ph.D., UAMS Graduate School assistant dean and Robert McGehee, Ph.D., dean of the UAMS Graduate School. While many graduate students want a career in research, others want to lead in the classroom. MacDonald saw the need to provide something for those students.

The GSTCA program now includes a teaching development workshop seminar series held throughout the year and experiential didactic teaching opportunities with partner universities in central Arkansas.

Since 2012, Sterba has helped MacDonald and others in the GSTCA organize an annual symposium, with significant growth each of the last three years. This year is the third year for the event, and the first speaker for the symposium was MacDonald herself. She just finished her first year of teaching at Hendrix College so she shared the lessons she learned with attendees.

“It means a lot to come back here and share with students after actually teaching,” MacDonald said. “It’s important for student to take advantage of opportunities that help them grow.”

MacDonald was able to share her experiences from teaching to the group of future educators. She not only gave teaching examples of assessments and activities she did in the classroom, but she also gave practical advice that she learned as a professor. “You have to learn how to adapt your teaching methods for your students,” she said. “Figure out what you want them to know and work backwards from there.”

About 40 people attended this year. MacDonald spoke first, then Beatrice Boateng, Ph.D., associate professor and director in the department of pediatrics, talked about the changes in job requirements and the importance of having an electronic academic portfolio.

The other speakers were Richard Zraick, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology; Lee Wilbur, M.D., professor and vice chair in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Lisa Ferris, Ed.S., M.S., assistant professor in the Office of Educational Development all at UAMS. Their topics included how to engage learners with your voice, the value of team-based presentations and creative formats for teaching.

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