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Creating Effective Learning Environments

Kim Graber is Associate Department Head and also directs the College of Applied Health Sciences' Teaching Academy, which provides support and professional development to faculty, staff, and teaching assistants within AHS. In 2006, Dr. Graber, who completed her doctoral degree in educational leadership and physical education teacher education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was named a University of Illinois Distinguished Teacher/Scholar. In 2009 she received the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

 

"I've always been interested in student learning and how faculty can create an environment that best facilitates the learning process," she said. "I'm interested in examining the ways in which educators create effective learning environments, where active learning is emphasized, where students take responsibility for their own learning, where opportunities for student leadership exist, and where undergraduates make a conscious decision to attend class because they enjoy it and want to learn."

 

In collaboration with KCH colleague Dr. Wojtek Chodzko-Zajko, Dr. Graber has developed an experiential course about wellness that incorporates public service and leadership components. Currently in the fourth stage of a five-stage process, they are developing a tool kit for faculty throughout the university who are interested in implementing similar courses in their disciplines. In the final stage, they hope to disseminate service/leadership courses to high schools throughout the United States.

 

Dr. Graber is using Ecological Systems Theory to investigate the impact of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which required every school district that participates in the National School Lunch Act to develop and implement a wellness policy no later than July of 2006. Overall, she has found that effective compliance with the legislation is directly related to the support of the principal and his/her awareness of and commitment to policy development. Lack of compliance stems from the knowledge that there is little legislative oversight of the plan or active monitoring to ensure its enactment. She is also updating an oft-cited but dated study of teacher education faculty in kinesiology that compares the demographics and work preferences of teacher educators located in research universities with those from liberal arts colleges.