Crutchfield Awarded UM Online Teaching Award

Crutchfield Awarded UM Online Teaching Award

Social Work faculty member recognized for excellence in online instruction.

OXFORD, Miss.— Each year the Office of Academic Outreach within the University of Mississippi’s Division of Outreach seeks to encourage and highlight faculty members’ contributions to online instruction at the University.

Now in its eighth year, the Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching honors online instructors who have exhibited good practice in course design and innovative use of technologies. Nominees’ efforts are acknowledged for engaging students as well as for their commitment to providing students with a quality education.

This year’s award recipient UM Assistant Professor of Social Work Jan Crutchfield was honored at a special ceremony on Friday, April 13, on the Oxford campus.

“Dr. Crutchfield’s online courses stood out to the award selection committee for student-centered teaching, diversified student learning experiences, and strong instructor presence,” Mary Lea Moore, UM assistant director of Academic Outreach said.

“The award selection committee felt that her course assignments promoted critical thinking, were relevant, and encouraged students to make a connection between the materials and their personal experience.”

Andrea Hannaford, a senior social work major from Senatobia, said that as a participant in Crutchfield’s online Social Work Research course last fall, she felt connected to the class and material.

“Her style of online teaching was so different,” Hannaford said. “I felt like I was really learning how to do research and not just doing work to keep busy. I loved that she videoed her lectures so that it felt like we were in a classroom atmosphere.”

Crutchfield says two of the staples of her online courses incorporate the use of Zoom recorded video lectures that include computer screen sharing and subsequent creation of YouTube links for students to view.

“I feel that integrating these two platforms in a way that brings my presence to the online classroom helps to make students feel more engaged in the courses and as if they had more guidance than in a strictly written online course,” Crutchfield said.

“I think video lectures can even aid those busy students who may need to listen to a lecture in the car while commuting to work or school. It’s all about flexibility.”

Crutchfield understands the need of flexibility when it comes to your education. She herself was employed and caring for her family while completing her Ph.D. at Louisiana State University.

“From my own online course experiences, I wanted to help take some of the anxiety of online classes away and show students how to stay on track and stay engaged throughout the flexible environment of online courses,” Crutchfield said.

Crutchfield says that her teaching philosophy is based on the social work concept of meeting the client where they are.

“I like the challenge of engaging students in a way that has to be more dynamic,” Crutchfield said. ”I’ve tried to be creative in my online courses and work to be just as accessible to online students as I would be for those in a live class.”

At the presentation ceremony, UM social work department chair Daphne Cain said that Crutchfield continues to prove herself to be a dedicated student mentor, advanced researcher, and collaborative colleague.

“Dr. Crutchfield’s innovative spirit in online education is inspirational to those around her,” Cain said. “I’ve enjoyed watching her move social work online education forward.”