Featuring 2017 Outstanding Teaching Award recipient David Pratt
Associate Professor of Education David Pratt is among three PNW Outstanding Faculty Award recipients announced during Founders Day festivities March 6. In a Q&A profile, Dr. Pratt shares his thoughts on teaching excellence:
Q: How long have you been with Purdue Northwest?
DP: I have been at the PNW Westville Campus for 15 years. I started in 2002.
Q: How do you define outstanding teaching, and how do you apply it to your teaching?
DP: Building positive student-teacher relationships is at the heart of my teaching. I hope to build on strong qualities of teaching to support those relationships in three areas: using a student-centered approach, mastering a wide breadth of professional knowledge, and always modeling a passion for lifelong learning.
Q: How do you provide an “outstanding” learning experience for your students?
DP: I work to create a student-centered, engaging and interactive learning environment. As a constructivist, my decisions about curriculum are guided by authentic problems to solve. Rather than rely on lectures and exams, I promote collaboration, problem-solving and application of knowledge.
Using this constructivist approach, I facilitate students to learn from each other and from me to build a shared understanding of course topics and key concepts. Project-based experiences that mirror the real-world are the cornerstone of my classroom. Because my ultimate goal is to nurture outstanding teachers, I want to see my students engaged in field study, service-learning projects and practice teaching.
My passion for teaching is fueled by a fundamental belief in active student engagement and lifelong learning. I acknowledge that there is always room for further innovation, improvement and impact on student learning. Throughout my career, I have been dedicated to helping students learn and grow as educators and as citizens of a digital society. One of the most humbling and invigorating facets of my work is the chance to learn with and from my students, colleagues, community partners and experts in the field.
Q: What motivated or influenced you to become a teacher? And why did you decide to teach our future educators?
DP: My father was a great high school teacher who I admired greatly. While it was sometimes difficult having him as my own teacher in high school, I was able to see what a caring and passionate teacher looked like. He was always involved with helping students succeed and showed a passion for teaching for many years.
I became a public school teacher in elementary and middle schools after graduating. I continued going to school at night while teaching during the day to earn my master’s degree and Ph.D. It was then I decided that I should become a professor of education and that I could influence future teachers.
Q: How did your teachers, professors or mentors inspire you along the way?
DP: Besides my father, I have had many other teachers and professors who served as mentors to inspire me. David Feikes, a colleague at PNW, from the very beginning believed in my abilities and mentored me to become the professor I am today. He taught me how to care about, but also challenge, conventional ways of thinking. My wife, as well as colleague Debra Pratt (continuing lecturer in early childhood education) has also been a huge inspiration for me as she is someone who loves learning about how people learn.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
DP: The most rewarding part of my job is seeing students succeed in working with young children and become passionate about teaching and learning. The greatest joy to experience in my classroom is the “lightbulb” going off and seeing the passion and excitement grow when thinking about working with children. Then after graduating, it is visiting and seeing students be successful as teachers in the classroom and making a huge impact on the next generation of people.