Thomas Schwandt, professor of educational psychology, was named a 2003-04 Distinguished Teacher Scholar. Through the program, administered by the Teaching Advancement Board and the Office of the Provost, Schwandt is researching the means various professions use to define, teach and evaluate professional judgment.
Photo by Bill Wiegand
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Bruce Litchfield, a professor of engineering and assistant dean in the College of Engineering, and Thomas Schwandt, a professor of educational psychology, can add another honor to their curricula vitae: University Distinguished Teacher/Scholar.
The Teaching Advancement Board selected Litchfield and Schwandt as its Distinguished Teacher Scholars for the 2003-2004 academic year. They were honored at the Annual Faculty Retreat for Active Learning held Feb. 12 at the Illini Union.
The annual Distinguished Teacher/Scholar program recognizes outstanding faculty members who actively enhance teaching and learning on campus and supports innovative projects that recipients develop as part of the selection process. Award recipients serve as consultants and mentors to other faculty and departments seeking to explore new instructional methods and revitalize their teaching programs.
“The DTS program recognizes a record of excellence and innovation in teaching and provides support for recipients to serve as leaders to the UI campus community,” said Provost Richard Herman. “Although it is a one-year award, recipients retain their title and continue to serve as examples and advocates of teaching excellence throughout their appointments at Illinois.”
As a Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, Litchfield plans to draw upon his experience with Learning in Community (LINC), the community-based learning program he founded on campus, to provide a foundation for faculty members who want to integrate community-based learning into their courses.
Litchfield will be developing a set of online instructional modules that will guide LINC participants and students from across campus in exploring concepts such as project management, leadership and the missions and needs of nonprofit organizations.
With the support of Provost Richard Herman and then Associate Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf, Litchfield initiated LINC, an interdisciplinary, project-based service-learning course that is now in its fifth pilot semester. The course engages teams of up to 20 students with organizations for collaborative projects that address complex, longstanding societal issues.
Participating organizations include the TIMES Center; the East St. Louis Action Research Project; Cunningham Children’s Home; Swann School; Habitat for Humanity, both the local affiliate and the international organization Global Community Village, which is based in Americus, Ga.; and North South University in Bangladesh.
The LINC course is far more than an opportunity for students to get out of the classroom and accumulate college credits for doing volunteer work. The concepts and skills that students assimilate through working on complicated issues with a diverse group of people prepares them for the types of issues and challenges they will face during their careers.
The course is open to all undergraduates and each student team is mentored by a faculty member or graduate assistant.
Litchfield said that students enjoy the opportunity to transcend theoretical, classroom-based learning and work with peers from a variety of backgrounds and majors as they apply their knowledge to complex problems.
“Their first reaction is, ‘This is very different,’ and it takes some adjustment. But they like being involved with people from the community and working on things that are valuable to them,” Litchfield said.
Since joining the UI faculty in 1986, Litchfield has initiated several programs aimed at enhancing scholarship on campus. He founded and directs the Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education, which promotes instructor development and innovative learning; co-developed the Engineering Emotional Intelligence course and program, which helps students develop competencies in emotional regulation and social interaction; and initiated Fast Start, a faculty development program under the sponsorship of the College of Engineering, the College of Education and the Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education.
Litchfield was named a University Scholar in 1994, was a member of an instructional team that the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences honored with a Team Award for Excellence in 2001 and has been recognized for exemplary teaching and research with various awards conferred by the College of ACES, the College of Engineering and the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
Litchfield’s research focuses on heat and mass transfer of biomaterials, sensors and process controls.
Although Thomas Schwandt is a relative newcomer to campus by some standards, having joined the Urbana campus faculty in January 2000, his scholarship has already garnered top honors from the College of Education and the university.
As a Distinguished Teacher/Scholar, Schwandt plans to study the concept of professional judgment and examine how various professions define it, evaluate it and teach it.
“A lot of my research over the last few years has been about the idea of practical reasoning in the field of evaluation. I’m interested in how the teacher in his or her everyday interactions with students or an occupational therapist with a client, for example, face the kinds of evaluative judgments they must make,” Schwandt said.
Law schools and medical schools traditionally have relied upon case-law examples to teach professional judgment and foster critical thinking, but Schwandt is curious how other academic programs in practice fields such as teaching, social work and urban planning cultivate sound judgment in their students and which methodologies they use. Schwandt also wants to explore whether professional judgment is practice- or discipline-specific or if the skills and dispositions have cross-disciplinary commonalities and can be transferred to other sectors.
“I fear that professional judgment and practical wisdom are in danger of being eclipsed by the growing concern with evidence-based and science-based practice,” Schwandt said. “One can legitimately read the science-based practice movement as an effort to make practice practitioner-proof, to devalue practical rationality by making scientific and technical rationality normative for practice.”
Schwandt’s research interests include examining issues at the intersection of moral-political and social scientific discourses and the philosophical foundations of interpretive/qualitative inquiry. In 2002, Schwandt received the Paul F. Lazarsfeld Award for contributions to evaluation theory from the American Evaluation Association.
In addition to his faculty appointment in the College of Education, Schwandt is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at the Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
Schwandt also is spearheading the Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate planning committee in the College of Education, a five-year project aimed at improving doctoral education at American universities. The UI’s department of educational psychology was one of 14 college/school units in the country selected to participate in the program.
The College of Education named Schwandt a Distinguished Senior College Scholar for the academic year 2002-2003, an honor bestowed on select faculty members whose volume of work and quality of scholarship influence educational practices and advance the field of education.
Although the Distinguished Teacher/Scholar appointment lasts one year, honorees carry the designation with them throughout their UI careers. A complete list of UI’s Distinguished Teacher/Scholars since the program began in 1999:
- Philip Buriak, agricultural engineering
- O. Vernon Burton, history
- Paul F. Diehl, political science
- James A. Gentry, finance
- Steve Helle, journalism
- J. Bruce Litchfield,** engineering
- Michael C. Loui, electrical and computer engineering
- Shelly J. Schmidt, food chemistry
- Thomas Schwandt,** educational psychology
- Linda C. Smith, library and information science
- Joseph C. Squier, art and design
- Arlette Willis, curriculum and instruction
* Revised from print version
** appointed this year