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Strawderman earns first Bagley College online education award

May 8, 2013

An industrial and systems engineering assistant professor received the first Bagley College of Engineering award for Excellence in Online Teaching.

Lesley Strawderman formally accepted her award during the Faculty Excellence Dinner April 23.

Strawderman teaches online classes as part of BCoE-Learning. The program is ranked 12th nationally by U.S. News and World Report, which evaluates factors including value, quality and affordability. As the program grows and improves, teachers and administrators have become more aware of the intense dedication and time commitment that are needed for online student success.

Strawderman said the award makes she feels appreciated for the hard work she has put into the program.

“It takes a lot of effort and a lot of energy to make a good online education experience for a distance student, so to be appreciated for that work is fulfilling,” Strawderman said.

Along with teaching numerous online courses, including engineering statistics and project management, Strawderman teaches classes on MSU’s Starkville campus. Because she teaches both face-to-face and online classes, she understands that there are different challenges with distance learning and can work to help improve her students’ academic careers.

“When your students are online, you have an added challenge of trying to create a sense of community, and trying to get to know your students on an individual level is a lot more challenging when they’re online,” Strawderman said.

The BCoE Award for Excellence in Online Teaching had a rubric specifically looking for an instructor who excelled in improving the online education facet of the college. Student recommendations were used to help determine the award recipient.

Approximately 30 percent of the 625 graduate students in the college are enrolled in the online program. Rita Burrell, manager for graduate and distance learning, explained many of these students work at national research labs, government agencies and industries of all sizes, adding that they enjoy the online programs because of the immediate impact it can have on their careers.

Strawderman explained that students’ often combine their classwork and professional projects to enhance the experience of those enrolled in the program.

“Hearing what they are doing at work and how they are able to apply their online education from the BCoE is so rewarding,” Strawderman said. “I teach them something in class and they are able to take it and use it in a project at work immediately. They see the rewards and the benefits and can communicate that back with the rest of the class.”

In 2005, Strawderman earned her doctoral degree in industrial engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Since 2006, she has been an industrial and systems engineering assistant professor in the BCoE. She is a member of the American Society for Engineering Education among other professional societies. She was inducted in the BCoE Academy of Distinguished Teachers in 2011.

By Mary Kate MCGowan