The Cognella Innovation in Teaching Award for Family Science

It gives us great pleasure to announce the 2018 winners of the Cognella Innovation in Teaching Award for Family Science. These outstanding Family Science teachers have gone above and beyond to introduce cutting-edge teaching practices to their courses to engage students and advance scholarship in the discipline. Each of their applications were evaluated according to the award criteria, and due to the quality of the applications received, the judging panel awarded the second-place prize to not one, but two applicants.

Congratulations to Dr. Melissa Landers-Potts, Dr. Bill Anderson, and Dr. Raeann R. Hamon!

First Place - Melissa Landers-Potts - University of Georgia

A Commitment to Community and Collaboration

The judging panel was impressed by how Melissa Landers-Potts, a senior lecturer of human development and family science at the University of Georgia, has leveraged the concepts of community and collaboration to significantly expand the reach of her teaching practices and provide her students with dynamic, applied learning opportunities.

Most notably, Dr. Landers-Potts established a partnership with Prevail Health, a company that offers online peer mentoring and mental health services for youth. Through an interface designed especially for her course, Dr. Landers-Potts’ students receive online wellness coaching training and then serve as online peer wellness coaches for 13-25 year old clients around the globe. This innovative approach provides students with the flexibility to complete service learning remotely, at any time during the week; an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of young people all over the world; and a global perspective and greater understanding of how culture impacts family environment. Additionally, the incorporation of human development material from Dr. Landers-Potts’ course so greatly improved the quality of wellness coaching through Prevail Health, the company modified their peer mentor training to include content directly from Dr. Landers-Potts’ course.

In addition, Dr. Landers-Potts has established a relationship with an alternative high school at which her students provide tutoring; created and designed an online version of her adolescent and emerging adult development course, which is fully online in regard to course content and service learning activities; utilized her Writing Fellow stipend to bring all the lecturers in her department together to develop a universal, holistic writing rubric; and led her college’s London Study Abroad program and created a seminar comparing various aspects of human and family life in the United Kingdom compared to the United States.

Melissa Landers-Potts, Ph.D., is a senior lecturer of human development and family science at the University of Georgia, where she teaches courses in family development, lifespan development, adolescence, diversity, and the effect of technology on human development. She earned her doctoral degree in human development and family science and her master’s degree in sociology from the University of Georgia.

Second Place - Bill Anderson - Illinois State University

 Incorporating Tools and Technology to Engage Students

The judging panel was impressed by how Bill Anderson, an associate professor in the College of Applied Science and Technology at Illinois State University, has mastered the use of tools and technology in his classroom to better engage students and provide them with new opportunities to apply the theories and information they learn in his courses.

Dr. Anderson has incorporated active learning software into his parenting classes, providing students with interactive educational experiences. The software empowers students to use the information they learn in class to describe their child, make theory-based predictions, and evaluate those predictions as the child ages.

In his graduate-level human development and social context course, Dr. Anderson uses a documentary series to provide students with an interrupted video case study experience. Students watch a portion of the documentary, then are challenged to interpret what they observed, make predictions about the case, and then reflect upon their predictions and theoretical applications as they watch new video clips, which spans 49 years of an individual’s life.

The impact of Dr. Anderson’s teaching is realized through the voices of his students, who sing his praises and often comment on how much they’ve learned in his courses.

Bill Anderson, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the College of Applied Science and Technology at Illinois State University. Over the course of his teaching career, he has taught courses in educational psychology, human development, music therapy techniques, and guitar. Dr. Anderson earned his doctoral degree in educational psychology from the University of Alabama and master’s degrees in human environmental sciences and music at the University of Alabama and Southern Theological Seminary, respectively.

Second Place - Raeann R. Hamon - Messiah College

Advancing the Scholarship of Family Science

The judging panel was impressed by the sheer volume and the outstanding quality of scholarship Raeann R. Hamon, Distinguished Professor of Family Science and Gerontology and the chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Messiah College, has contributed to the discipline of Family Science. She has published five books since 2007 and has authored 36 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. In her works, Dr. Hamon consistently demonstrates the relevance and application of the discipline of Family Science. Due to her outstanding and continued publications and presentations, Dr. Hamon has been recognized by NCFR and serves as the Chair-Elect of the Advancing Family Science Section.

In addition to her contributions in advancing scholarship of the discipline, Dr. Hamon has implemented a variety of innovative teaching practices to her courses at Messiah College. She created The Elder Service Partner Program, an intergenerational service-learning program that pairs students with Elder Service Partners in the community. Students learn firsthand the value of intergenerational relationships, combat stereotypes related to older adults, and build a sensitivity and awareness to challenges facing aging populations.

In Dr. Hamon’s Dynamics of Family Interaction course, students are challenged to create a family genogram including three generations of family members and incorporating demographic, educational, occupational, medical, and social familial detail. Students then reflect on their findings, highlighting patterns and insights within their family system that are significant to their families’ functioning.

Raeann R. Hamon, Ph.D., CFLE, is a Distinguished Professor of Family Science and Gerontology and the chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Messiah College, where she teaches courses in family interaction, the sociology of aging, family life education, opportunities in human development and family science, and interpersonal relationships. She earned her doctoral and master’s degrees in family studies from Virginia Tech.