Criminal Justice faculty member wins teaching innovation award

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
June 15, 2012

Jaclyn Schlidkraut, first-time teacher and criminal justice doctoral student at Texas State University-San Marcos, has received the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award.

Schildkraut accepted the award this week at the Jasig-Sakai conference in Atlanta, Ga.

Schildkraut, from the School of Criminal Justice, submitted her spring 2012 course, “Crime Theory and Victimization” for the international award. She said she didn’t expect much to come of it, and was surprised when notified she had won the Higher Education Face-to-Face category of the award for 2012.

“Crime Theory and Victimization” is an undergraduate criminal justice course, and had an enrollment of 35 students, mostly juniors and seniors with a few underclassmen. Schildkraut said she designed the course with several goals in mind beyond teaching criminological theory. She created assignments using forums and other tools in TRACS, designed to challenge students to make a link between the theories they were learning about and current relevant topics. Schildkraut said these assignments fostered critical thinking skills as well as encouraging students to communicate with each other in an open but respectful manner.

Students also used the forums for online study groups where all students could post questions and engage in discussions about their understanding of course material before exams. Schildkraut said students would often provide examples to explain theories to each other that would be meaningful and relevant to their peers. She said students who actively participated in the online study group did better on exams than students who did not. In addition, the online study groups were more convenient for students than trying to arrange face-to-face meetings.

This was the third consecutive year a Texas State faculty member won the award. Last year, Niem Huynh from the geography department won, and in 2010 Scott Bowman, also from Criminal Justice, was the winner. The Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award honors faculty members for innovative teaching practices and is sponsored by rSmart and John Wiley and Sons. TRACS is Texas State’s version of the Sakai learning environment.