A West Virginia University professor who is developing a computer-based version of a popular psychology course has won a University teaching award.
Kevin T. Larkin, associate professor of psychology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, has been chosen as recipient of the third annual June Harless Award for Exceptional Teaching, said C. B. Wilson, associate provost for academic personnel.
The June Harless Award for Exceptional Teaching is made possible by a contribution from Gene A. Budig, WVU s 17th president and now senior advisor to the commissioner of Major League Baseball. The award, which includes a $5,000 stipend, is named for the late wife of James”Buck”Harless, a Mingo County coal executive. All faculty are eligible for the award, which will be presented annually through 2003.
“Dr. Larkin is at the forefront of developing computer-based instructional materials that use this technology to its best advantage,”Wilson said.”His work facilitates student learning by not only introducing them to course content through the computer, but also by using sophisticated multimedia graphics to create interactive projects for students taking the course. This interaction facilitates learning by ensuring that students process the material deeply.”
Grants of more than $120,000 during the past six years have funded Larkins work in revitalizing Introduction to Psychology , a course with an annual enrollment of about 3,000 undergraduate students. With a small team of faculty members, Larkin has completely redesigned the course, including development of multimedia lectures, classroom demonstrations, student projects and a new center for computer-based teaching and learning.
Currently, Larkin is developing a computer-based version of the course to facilitate both campus and distance-learning formats via the Web. His work is receiving national attention.
“Dr. Larkin is at the front of a very small pack of innovative teachers who are paving the way for others who have not yet dared to venture into the world of high-tech teaching,”said William Buskist, textbook author and professor of psychology at Auburn University
In addition to the introductory course in psychology, Larkin has developed or revamped several other courses, including Sex Roles and Behavior and Biological Foundations of Behavior , and taught a variety of graduate-level courses in adult cognitive-behavior therapy, biological bases of behavior, anxiety disorders, and behavioral medicine.
He is a key faculty member in the Department of Psychologys nationally ranked doctoral programs in child and adult clinical psychology and the departments rating as the fourth most productive program worldwide in research publications in behavior analysis and therapy. He has published 27 refereed journal articles and eight book chapters and presented about 100 research papers at professional conferences nationwide. His work has received mention in _ USA Today_ , Time and Psychology Today .
His research in the assessment and treatment of high blood pressure, physiological responses to anxiety and stress, and health psychology has been supported by the American Heart Association.
Despite all of his work at the computer and in the laboratory, Larkins first love is teaching.”What I like most about the job has to be teaching,”he said.
He came to WVU in 1985 as a psychology intern in the School of Medicines Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology in 1986 from the University of Pittsburgh and was hired as an assistant professor by the Department of Psychology that same year. He also has an adjunct appointment in the WVU School of Medicine.
His experiences as a student have influenced his teaching style, which involves enthusiasm for the course content, gaining the respect and trust of students and experiential learning, or”doing stuff.”He remembers the influence of a 10th grade history teacher.
“I think it was his first teaching job, and he drove this clunker of a car. He had great enthusiasm, an ability to communicate, and you did stuff. When you were studying a period of history in his class, you felt like you were living back in that time,”Larkin said.
“When I think back about what I remember from the classes I took, I dont remember any lectures. Its what I did that I remember,”he said.”Just getting up and lecturing to a class for an hour, I cant imagine doing that. We learn things by doing them.”
That is why he has developed more than 100 student learning activities for his computer-based psychology course and uses a wide variety of activities in the courses he teaches on campus. Larkins students appreciate his dedication to teaching and their learning.
“He influenced my career choice,”said Lynda Federoff, who completed her Ph.D. in psychology in 1999 at WVU and is now an assistant professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.”I can only hope to be half as good at my job as Kevin is at his.”