Four PBSC professors win Stewart Award

From left: Dr. Roger Yohe, Mark Gatlin, Catherine Montero and Dr. Anita Kaplan.

Four Palm Beach State College professors are the 2019 recipients of the Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award.

The winners, who were announced yesterday during Faculty Convocation at the Duncan Theatre, are the teams of Catherine Montero and Mark Gatlin and Cary High, J.D., and Casey Reiter, J.D. This was the first time two teams were chosen. Each team received a $5,000 award.

Montero and Gatlin and High and Reiter were selected from among 21 applications that included four teams of two for the award, which is the top honor presented by Palm Beach State for excellence in teaching and learning in the classroom.

As part of the self-nomination process, they had to demonstrate that they went above the norm by developing, implementing, assessing and analyzing innovative learning practices that helped students succeed in reaching their academic goals.

Montero, who teaches Fundamentals of Speech Communication, and Gatlin, who teaches College Composition, were chosen for their learning exercise in which they led their students in exploring the comprehension and application of fallacies in arguments using the social media platform Twitter.

From left: Dr. Roger Yohe, Cary High, J.D., Casey Reiter, J.D. and Dr. Anita Kaplan

After Montero and Gatlin lectured on the different types of fallacies, their students applied their knowledge by locating a tweet posted by a politician which contained a fallacy. Students then posted a screenshot of their tweet, along with an explanation of the fallacy or fallacies, on an asynchronous blog created for the assignment. Students were then asked to select a tweet from a classmate and reply with a critical analysis.

Students from multiple PBSC campuses and other college campuses including Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Va., participated in the activity and posted to the blog.

High and Reiter were picked for their learning exercise where paralegal studies students from two sections of Court Systems II, which High and Reiter teach, prepared for a mock civil jury trial. During the trial, students developed their questioning, critical thinking and oratory skills while playing the mock roles of attorneys and witnesses.

The exercise engaged students in a realistic experience that compelled them to apply basic and advanced objectives learned from all paralegal studies courses in a series of time-sensitive, no-nonsense assignments that all built toward one of the most difficult endeavors any practicing paralegal or lawyer will participate in.

“Both of these teams were very comprehensive and detailed in their applications,” said Dr. Anita Kaplan, dean of bachelor’s degree programs and chair of the Stewart Awards Committee, who announced the winners during convocation. “The committee and I were very impressed with how well each team did to engage their students with Montero and Gatlin using social media, which is exploding these days, to High and Reiter creating an exercise that would mimic a real-life scenario.”

In 2020, the awards will be part of the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, a faculty-led, physical and virtual initiative supporting faculty collaboration in discovering, sharing and creating innovative practices to advance all students’ success while empowering faculty to achieve their teaching goals. A new action committee will be formed to continue to facilitate and develop the awards.

Visit the Stewart Awards website to learn more about the history, requirements and past winners.

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