Think EKU!

At EKU, we are dedicated to helping students succeed. Meet Stephen Haggerty, a professor who uses a structured teaching model to encourage students to think critically and creatively.

Stephen Haggerty is the Assistant Director of the NOVA program at EKU.  He is a recipent, along with nine others, of the Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year award.  The first annual award was coordinated by Kate Williams, director of the Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) to recognize "outstanding faculty members who have had an effect on developing their students' critical/creative thinking skills."  

Currently enrolled students nominated professors who consistently did an excellent job in "encouraging them to think critically and/or creatively about the subject matter in their class." Students who nominated Mr. Haggerty described the high level of engagement and individual attention he gave to them.  

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Winner, Critical Thinking Teacher of the Year, 2011:

What is it about the Critical Thinking teaching model that would attract students to EKU?

Critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively are better equipped to make choices about their academic path, their financial responsibilities, their relationships, and their career opportunities.  When we look through the critical lens, we are able to see more than the surface, and this skill set will serve students well as they go through college and life.  EKU helps students become more.  We don’t just teach and they learn…we teach our students how to learn, and how to take that information to become self-directed, interdependent citizens of the world around them.

How does this model contribute to student success?  

Anecdotally, I hear from so many of our students about how they use the tools of critical thinking in their classes and in their lives when making important decisions.  I also hear from colleagues who tell me that our participants (and their students) are able to process, reflect, and express themselves in mature and competent ways.  In other words, if students can think things through so that their thinking is at a higher level, they can apply this skill to every context they find themselves in which results in higher achievement, regardless of the subject matter being taught.

How does this teaching model help a student standout in a job interview?

Positive impressions are fundamental during a job interview, and students who can think “on their feet," consider multiple perspectives and formulate clear, precise, and significant responses will be considered more prepared applicants.  Companies are looking for creative minds, team-oriented employees who can consider the breadth and depth of a project.  There is no doubt that the model we employ at EKU is increasing our students’ ability to think at a higher level, and this can be evidence when they employ the strategies of competent communication and thinking things through during interactions like a job interview; I know I want to hire a thinker and a doer.  EKU is preparing students for both.

When a student completes one of your classes, what do you hope he/she will take away?

When students complete a course I teach, I want them to feel empowered to take on challenges they face every day, and to do so with confidence.  I want my students to be committed to the journey, and this journey is made much easier when they are informed, critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively.  I want my students to know how important character is to life.  I want my students to feel passionate about success.  I want them to know that they can shine as brightly as they put their minds to…I want them to take away the knowledge that they can use in other classes, in their relationships, and in their lives.  I want them to be able to see that education is always happening, and I want them to take away the durable and transferrable skills of critical and creative thinking and effective communication.

What does this teaching model mean to you?

The theme of EKU’s Quality Enhancement Program drives so much of what I do as a teacher and professional.  I know the value of helping others become critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively.  I believe this University is so strong because of what we do.  Any student who chooses to become a Colonel will see what I mean.  GO EKU!

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