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Majors & Degrees

U of Memphis names Smith outstanding IDT doctoral student

March 20, 2017

Kevin SmithKevin Smith has been named the 2017 Outstanding IDT Doctoral Student by the faculty at the University of Memphis.

Smith is an instructor in the College of Education at Dakota State University in Madison. In the fall of 2014 he began work on his online doctoral education degree in instructional design and technology (IDT).

The focus of the IDT program at the University of Memphis is to prepare “students to conduct reality-based research that examines the role of instructional design and technology on learning," according to the school’s website. 

Smith was notified of the award by advisor, Dr. Clif Mims. “This honor is awarded annually to an IDT doctoral student that has an outstanding record in coursework, research, and the promotion of the IDT program. We commend you for your consistent excellence.”

He has learned much from the advanced degree program, Smith said, things which are applicable to his work at DSU in the College of Education. “I have grown as a teacher and a researcher because of the program,” he said.

Because he has become a better teacher, his students’ skills improve as well.

In Smith’s classes, “We have learned different math routines, how to set up a classroom, how to help parents with the different strategies their students may be learning, and getting students to understand the ‘Why’ of mathematics,” said Kayla Janssen. Originally from Volga, Janssen is a junior elementary education major at DSU.

“[Smith] is very passionate about math,” she added, helping students put “plenty of tools in their educational toolbox in order to be successful when they get out into the classroom.”

Besides apps, websites, and manipulatives, he recently taught them a bit of an object lesson centering on Pi Day.

To celebrate the irrational number of 3.14159, he gave his K-8 Math Methods students a variety of cylindrical objects, rulers, and pipe cleaners. Students measured the circumference and diameter of the object, and divided the two. “Precision is important,” he advised, and all the students’ results came out close to 3.14159.

His next lesson was “How do you use this in the real world?” After giving them several examples, he ended the lesson with the moral, “Math is amazing.”

With in-class lessons such as this, “He's teaching us how to move kids from just learning the algorithms to explaining their thinking and talking about math on a deeper level,” Janssen said. This is “going to help them as they progress through school and head on to the workforce or college.”

Smith, who lives in Brookings, is currently working on his dissertation, titled "Adaptive Learning in K-8 Mathematics Education: Perceptions of Preservice Teachers." He expects to complete and defend his work in April.