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Social Work Faculty Member Receives Teaching Grant


Dr. Sharon T. Alston, assistant professor of social work, is among the 51 educators selected as Teaching Grant recipients by Course Hero, an online learning platform. The recipients were selected from a pool of 374 faculty projects that were submitted for the fall 2022 term. The awardees will be recognized at Course Hero’s fifth annual educator summit July 28-29.

According to Course Hero, the new grant program is designed to support a wide range of faculty submitted dream projects. Alston, who earned both a micro-credential in integrative teaching from Norfolk State and a micro-credential in promoting engaged and active learning from the Association of College and University Educators, will use her grant to help students learn to use ArcGIS, a software program that connects people, locations and data using interactive maps.

dr sharon alston photo“The project supports digital learning as students will have hands-on experience with ArcGIS,” said Alston. “They will practice using GIS [geographical information system] to create maps of local communities and then engage in a research project of their choice.”

Alston goes on to say that the students will be actively engaged with the information they receive, think critically about the spatial data and make independent decisions about what aspects of the community they want to explore. “For example,” she said, “some may wish to explore the presence of fast-food restaurants and the absence of health food stores. Others may explore and compare the rates of violence among two different communities.”

At the end of the training, students will present their project results to the community.

Using the GIS project, Alston said, will include all types of learning styles — visual, auditory, verbal, logical, social and those with disabilities. “We need to approach our classrooms as laboratories for examining how we teach and how students learn,” she said. “Doing so, we can better understand how students learn and under what conditions they do best. We can also improve how we teach.”