PUTNEY -- For her dedication to educate bright, at-risk college students with a pedagogy honed by action research, Dorothy Osterholt, Landmark College Associate Professor, was awarded the Outstanding Educator Award from the College Reading and Learning Association at the spring meeting of the northeast chapter in Bridgeport, Conn. Active for 46 years, CRLA recognizes talented educators who are distinguished by their dedication to student success.
Motivated by her desire to "meet the holistic needs of the student," Osterholt initiated action research to better understand first-year college students who struggle adjusting to academic demands, also an area of concern across higher education in the U.S. where just over half of entering freshmen will graduate with a degree.
"When we asked, how can we get students engaged, we started to make fascinating discoveries," Osterholt said. "Nearly all students in the study said that motivation and social/emotional barriers -- more than skill deficits -- got in the way of academics."
This important discovery led Osterholt and colleagues to design collaborative learning activities to bolster student excitement about learning while promoting their ability to work together. These activities were expressly designed to address students' most pressing and often cited concerns -- that they struggle with motivation and the social side of learning.
"Students really pushed themselves," said Osterholt. "It was completely successful."
Osterholt, Associate Professor and 27-year veteran of Landmark College, specializes in teaching first-year college students how to learn effectively so they may flourish academically and attain a college education. Her scholarly work on collaborative learning has been published in Journal of Developmental Education, About Campus, and New England Journal of Higher Education. She has presented at international and national conferences designed for college faculty, learning specialists, and administrators who are dedicated to ongoing innovation and improvement in higher education.