When Tricia Prokop began teaching graduate-level physical therapy courses at the University of Hartford in 2011, she focused on preparing good notes, rehearsing her lectures, and covering all the material she could by the end of class.
But after taking Foundations of Teaching and Learning through the Doctor of Education (EdD) program, it hit her: She’d be a better teacher by concentrating her energy on her students and what they actually understood during class.
She ditched her formal lectures and PowerPoints, choosing instead to focus on inspiring lively student discussions. “That course led me to change my teaching style—to look for what my students understand and what they don’t,” she says. “I’ve heard students say they get a lot more out of the discussions.”
Prokop began her career as a physical therapist in 2006 at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. There, she worked in pediatric sports medicine, treating everything from knee pain to tendonitis. After presenting at a Connecticut Physical Therapy Association conference in 2010, she was approached by a faculty member from the University of Hartford to teach a course. “I jumped on the opportunity,” she says.
When Prokup enrolled in the EdD program in 2013 she quickly found that every assignment applied to her work.
“From every course I take, I’m able to implement something new immediately that improves my teaching,” she says. “That is really rewarding.”
University of Hartford leaders have already noticed Prokop’s progress. In 2014, the school honored her with its prestigious Sustained Excellence in Teaching Award for Part-Time Faculty. “Pursuing my EdD is the best decision I have ever made,” she shares. “It’s remarkable how much my teaching has changed.”
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