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Sutherland honored with university award for distinguished teaching

Anthony Rodriguez
April 17, 2017

“Sue Sutherland is a dedicated educator to the world of physical education and more importantly, her students.”

Those words, from alumna Carli Alfriend (’16, Physical Education), reveal a glimpse into the learning experience students receive from the associate professor of physical education teacher education.

Sutherland was named this year’s winner of The Ohio State University Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching. Her dedication to creating learning environments that challenge the perspectives of pre-service physical education teachers provides them insight into the kind of teachers they may become.

Dean Cheryl Achterberg, President Michael Drake and other EHE and Ohio State officials dropped by her class in March to share the good news.

“At first, I honestly thought that the room was double booked as people kept streaming into the classroom,” Sutherland said. “I was about to tell them that we were just about done and they could have the room in a couple of minutes. Then I realized that it was President Drake!

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award as teaching is my passion. Teaching is the part of my job at Ohio State that I absolutely love. To be nominated by my colleague and students as a recognition of my teaching was amazing.”

This isn’t the first time Sutherland has been recognized for excellence in teaching. In 2015, she was awarded the EHE Distinguished Teaching Award, in part, because of her continued efforts to improve student experiences.

Sutherland not only offers in-class experiential learning for graduate and undergraduate students, it’s the focus of her scholarship. Her research examines ways to create emotionally and physically safe teaching environments that foster inter- and intrapersonal development.

“She places the utmost importance in creating an environment where students value the experience, feel respected and safe, and are open to sharing their experiences and opinions,” said Jacqueline Goodway, professor of kinesiology and Sutherland’s colleague.

This learning philosophy was especially apparent in the final reflection projects students presented during her college teaching course.

“I knew that my goal of creating an environment where students felt safe to take risks was realized when the presentations began,” Sutherland said. “During the next hour, students presented their reflections as a rap song, an illustrated children’s book, a collage, a painting, a poem and a story, among other mediums. Not only were they creative, but their level of reflection on their growth over the semester was in-depth.”

Sutherland’s approach to teaching makes students better learners and eventually well-prepared teachers who challenge others to think about problems in different ways.

“I do not feel any other professor could have done a better job in preparing us for what we were doing as GTAs,” said Sean Dahlin, a doctoral student in sports management. “I still continue to use information and teaching tips from that course as I teach now.”


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