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Top Teacher: Michaela Phillips ’17, ’19 MAT receives ATE-VA award for research on learning strategies

Michaela Phillips teaching science at the Empowerment Academy.

Michaela Phillips teaching science at the Empowerment Academy.

On Thursday, Michaela Phillips ’17, ’19 MAT earned the 2019 Teacher Candidate Research Award from the Association of Teacher Educators in Virginia (ATE-VA) for her project, “Alternative High School Classroom: Hands-On Learning.”

In addition to her enrollment in Randolph’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program, Phillips is a science teacher at the Empowerment Academy for Lynchburg City Schools. In her action research project, Phillips is comparing the effects of hands-on versus lecture-based learning in a small, urban alternative high school science classroom.

“The study will address the effect that hands-on learning has on student achievement and whether or not students’ attitudes toward science change when using hands-on activities,” Phillips said. “I alternated using lecture-based and hands-on teaching strategies over the course of four units and will be comparing test scores to determine the effect on student performance. I have also been collecting student responses to questions asked at the end of every lesson, which I will use to evaluate student attitude toward the content area.”

Phillips has felt supported every step of the way by Randolph and the MAT program and like many other MAT students, already has a full-time teaching job before competing her degree.

“I feel that the skills and understanding I had been given over the course of even the first few classes of the program allowed me to meet the expectations of the position,” she said. “Since then, I have learned how to meet the needs of each individual learner in my classroom, as well as how to form relationships with my students to develop a healthy classroom climate.

“Randolph has taught me how to develop fun, engaging lessons that challenge my students and push them to be their best,” she continued. “I am so grateful to have such supportive faculty who have given me a great example to model in my own classroom and who have encouraged me to succeed.  I am so honored to receive the Teacher Candidate Research Award. I feel that it is a reflection of everything that my professors have invested in me and I hope to continue to make worthwhile contributions to the field of education.”

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