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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Kimberly Morgan

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Kimberly Morgan, assistant professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics, for demonstrating dedication to improving the educational experiences of Virginia Tech students by engaging students in the Kohl Centre, which provides opportunities for student teams to engage in strategic and tactical decision-making processes specific to existing needs identified by firms or individuals.

In its initial offering (AAEC 4984), Dr. Kim Morgan recruited four undergraduate students who enrolled in a variable credit Spring 2014 course. In response to college-wide interest from both faculty and students, a total of 28 undergraduate students completed the Fall 2014 Kohl Centre Experience “Becoming Agents of Change: A Facilitated Guide to Creative Collaboration,” which featured experts on learning sciences and education, evaluation, youth development, and communication and leadership.

After completing the Kohl Centre Experience, 23 students (from freshmen to senior levels and 7 CALS majors) enrolled in two-credit Fall 2014 courses led by five CALS faculty: Katherine Knowlton (Dairy Science), Scott Greiner (Animal Science), and Agricultural and Applied Economics faculty Kim Morgan, Gustavo Ferreira and Gordon Groover. Students completed their projects by following graded rubrics and participating in weekly team meetings, and presented their project findings to diverse audiences, including at a VCE In-Service Training, during President Sands’ CALS visit, and by invitation to the Christiansburg Town Council meeting. An example of the realized potential for inclusion of undergraduates in Extension programming efforts: Spring 2014 KC students designed a tractor safety bumper sticker which was printed and distributed at State Fair of Virginia by the Ag Econ club students which coincided with the USDA's National Farm Safety Week, and partnered with Virginia Farm Bureau who created a large banner which featured our trademarked slogan "Sometimes, Half the Road is Not Enough" which was displayed by a large farm equipment vendor throughout the State Fair activities.

As a result of these initial demonstrated successes in involving undergraduate student teams to develop and implement solutions to problems facing Virginia's stakeholders, recent grant awards will allow future KC teams to work on three externally funded projects. Informally, KC students have shared that their work on these projects has been well received by both industry and graduate educators. A top student recently interviewed for two internships, and was told by the recruiter that her work on the KC project was the first time he had seen a student have this type of real-world experience. Another student shared that their KC project gave them the desire to pursue graduate education, knowing they had research experience, and more importantly, a newfound desire to help people solve economic problems.

After serving as an Extension Economist in Mississippi for five years, Dr. Kim Morgan joined VT in August of 2013, fulfilling her desire to provide undergraduate students with opportunities to have applied research experiences and to build their own networks to achieve workplace success and add value to their classroom learning at the undergraduate level. In her Kohl Centre course, student-led interdisciplinary teams work on solutions to problems that have public value, covering a variety of challenges ranging from market and production issues, legal and policy hurdles, and financial issues. In her role as the AAEC Kohl Junior Faculty Fellow, her Kohl Centre project objectives are connected to applied research and based on meeting the needs of stakeholders.

Dr. Morgan’s teaching goal is to recruit and develop undergraduate students throughout their Virginia Tech career, and select visible projects that can be addressed within the fall/spring semesters. Her role as facilitator of the Kohl Centre Project Course is to guide student teams through the research process and to provide outlines of project roles, timelines, responsibilities, outcomes and impacts. Students must take ownership of the project and exhibit self-discipline, peer support, team responsibility, and the ability to recognize and appreciate different perspectives and skill sets while working under time constraints and balancing their work-life situations.

Dr. Morgan seeks: to inform stakeholders and supporters of the importance of the work and the credibility and impact of the Kohl Centre project results; to develop and facilitate their role in UG student development; and to ensure that the value added to the Virginia Tech undergraduates as a result of their participation in the Kohl Centre experience is relevant to their hiring needs, with the goal of securing additional financial resources to support Kohl Centre activities.





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