Skip to main content

Prescott Earns UM Top Online Teaching Honor

School of Pharmacy faculty named 2023-24 Paragon Award recipient

Leigh Anne Newton Dr. Haley Prescott was honored with this year's Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching. Prescott is a UM School of Pharmacy faculty member who developed Pharmacognosy 541 "Nature's Pharmacy" as a pilot course for the new online master's in dietary supplements and medical cannabis.

OXFORD, Miss. — This month University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy faculty member Hayley Prescott received UM’s Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching for creating and teaching her first online course Pharmacognosy 541 “Nature’s Pharmacy,” which served as a pilot class for the school’s new online master’s degree program in dietary supplements and medical cannabis.

Prescott joined the school’s BioMolecular Sciences department as an instructional assistant professor in spring 2023 bringing her expertise in botanical medicine and dietary supplements.

In her award-winning course, Prescott worked to share her knowledge of the medicinal qualities of botanicals while providing the academic information in a way students could connect with.

“I prefer to enable students’ ability to envision and implement in the outside world what is taught in my classroom, over just memorizing the material,” Prescott said. “I want students to have fun while they are learning the material and see how it touches aspects of their lives they may have previously overlooked.”

Prescott earned a bachelor’s degree from Bastyr University in Herbal Sciences before earning her Ph.D. in Pharmacognosy at UM in 2022.

“My teaching philosophy stems from my passion around the subject matter,” she said. “I feel an immense responsibility to address and correct an abundance of misinformation so that future generations can be educated and informed in their decisions.”

Each year through the Paragon Award, the faculty and staff in the UM Office of Academic Outreach, home of Ole Miss Online, recognize a faculty member who stood out for applying creative uses of educational technologies in their online classrooms while maintaining quality and engagement.

Jackson State University 1982 baseball teamPrescott's love of nature helped to shape her award-winning online course at UM. Pictured here in a Hawaii in 2017 where she was conducting field work establishing new plants and trails.

Wan Petchroon, a UM instructional design and training specialist with Ole Miss Online, said this year’s Paragon Award committee was especially impressed with how Prescott approached the course from the student’s perspective.

“She made a real effort to think about the student as she was creating this course,” Petchroon said. “This stood out because it displayed online teaching best practices like ease of navigation, thoughtful and meaningful on-screen interactions, chunking lessons into smaller parts, cueing and signaling to keep the attention of students as well as using conversational-style direction to guide students.”

“Her instructor presence in the course is exceptional,” Petchroon continued. “She went above and beyond to make students feel they are not learning alone.”

Prescott worked to make the course engaging by having students use what they were learning in “real-world” situations such as dissecting a dietary supplement label from their own home and photographing leaf margins in nature.

Prescott’s worked to make the subject matter accessible to students in an online environment that would feel current and welcoming to students.

“I found that breaking down modules into mini-lessons prevents learning fatigue and helps students be able to digest material,” Prescott said. “I also put time and effort into the design of each learning module and made sure they included high quality visuals, elegant design, clear structure, and easy navigation.”

Prescott says her love of the world around her drives her excitement for the course.

“Plants are just fascinating.”