Biographies of IDEA Center Scholars

Kathleen S. Lowney, Scholar-in-Residence

Kathe earned her undergraduate double majors in Comparative Religions and Sociology (with honors) at the University of Washington in 1981. She took the summer off from college and went directly to a PhD program at Drew University, earning her M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Religion and Society. She came to Valdosta State in 1987, to join her husband, Frank Flaherty, who already was on the faculty.

New to teaching, she had some rough moments as she tried to develop her own teaching style. Teaching came easier though, than publishing did. Getting publishing was hard; it wasn't until she found a mentor during her 1992 NEH Summer Seminar on Social Problems: The Constructionist Stance that she learned some of the "tricks" about getting published. Since then, she has written two books, over thirty research articles and book chapters, and co-edited several syllabi collections with some of her VSU sociology colleagues for the American Sociological Association.

Since 1989, she has been active in scholarship of teaching and learning activities in sociology and in particular, in the Midwest Sociological Society and the American Sociological Association. In 2009, she applied to become editor of the American Sociological Association's sole pedagogical journal, Teaching Sociology, and she has been editor since January 2010. Her tenure as editor ended in December 2014. The journal receives almost two hundred manuscripts (original and revisions) a year.

In 2011 she received the VSU College of Arts and Sciences' Excellence in Teaching award and also became the winner of VSU's Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2012, she won the Felton Jenkins, Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in the University System of Georgia. In 2014, she won the American Sociological Association's Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. This is the ASA's highest pedagogical award. In 2015, she won the American Sociological Association's Section on Teaching and Learning's Hans O. Mauksch award for distinguished teaching.

Starting a writing project is very difficult for her; while she has tried to write every day, that just doesn't fit her teaching schedule and her life, though every January 1, she makes a resolution to try it again! In 2013, the IDEA Center writing groups helped her to focus and commit to writing three times a week. This helped - she finished her 3rd book this past July! But once she can clear a block of time, find the right music, and can get into the flow of writing, something almost magical happens!

Li-Mei Chen, Technology and Education Scholar

Li-Mei received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University in second and foreign language education, with specialization of applied linguistics, minors in language testing and research methods. Before joining VSU, she taught English and a variety of college writing courses in several institutions in the United States and overseas.

She is a certified online course reviewer by Quality Matters, a leader in quality assurance for online education. Since she joined VSU, she has taught a variety of online courses. Even if she teaches in the physical classroom, she always incorporates different technologies into her classes to motivate and engage students. Due to a high demand for offering courses via distance learning technologies at VSU, she has developed numerous entirely online courses for her department's undergraduate programs and for the ESOL endorsement program She has also developed courses for her department's new onine M.A. program in English Studies.

Li-Mei's research interest, greatly influenced by her teaching, is focused on how to integrate technologies to enhance teaching and learning, with a focus on language education. She has published many research articles in refereed journals in this area and has shared her research results at different educational technology conferences. Moreover, she has been awarded many grants to support her professional development. One of them is a development grant for online course enhancement and development. She keeps updating her knowledge by continuously attending workshops and training programs to learn online course design and pedagogy. The workshops, along with training programs she has taken, have provided her with a solid foundation in understanding online educational issues and expanded her knowledge in teaching online courses.

Li-Mei has enthusiasm to help colleagues in using technologies to enhance their teaching. She has constantly shared her successful examples with colleagues at VSU. She demonstrates to them how to develop learning modules and deal with challenges when teaching online. She also keeps sharing her experiences with colleagues outside the VSU community when meeting them at professional venues. She has found sharing her experiences with colleagues, in turn, helps her further develop pedagogically relevant and responsible skills of harnessing the available tools to improve her own practice and help her students learn effectively.

Maren Clegg-Hyer, Teaching Scholar

Maren received her BA and MA from Brigham Young University, and her PhD from the University of Toronto in English, the latter with a medieval studies emphasis. Before she came to VSU, she taught literature, writing, and linguistics at Woodbury University and California State University at Los Angeles. She’s been at VSU since 2008 and has taught courses in writing, research, critical thinking, early British literature, early British drama, Old English, and medieval literature to both undergraduates and graduate students. She frequently mentors students in their research projects and loves teaching.

She is an active researcher, with three edited collections in press, as well as a dedicated member of the VSU community in her fifth year on Faculty Senate and her seventh year on a variety of department and university committees, ranging from the e-Learning Committee, World Literature Committee, and Graduate Committee to the Academic Honors and Scholarships Committee, which she chaired. She received the VSU College of Arts and Sciences’ Excellence in Teaching Award and VSU’s Excellence in Teaching Award for 2014-15.

This last year, she mentored PhD candidates in their dissertation writing for the IDEA Center and prized both the experience and the interactions with wonderful students. She looks forward to more IDEA Center initiatives in the coming year.

Darrell Fike, Teaching Scholar

Darrell Fike is a writing specialist in the Department of English. A graduate of the Writing Program at Florida State university, Darrell teaches undergraduate writing classes and graduate pedagogy/theory classes. His own writing and publications include academic, creative, and journalism. In addition to his Ph.D. from Florida State, he has a master's in professional writing and a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Memphis. He has served as a faculty member at VSU for fifteen years.

"It was my pleasure to participate in an IDEA Center teaching circle last year. I very much enjoyed sharing experiences and ideas with faculty across the campus. Like many of us, I spend most of my time wearing a rut in the hallway between my office and the classrooms in which I teach, so it was a refreshing change to meet in the charming Center house and engage in lively conversations with other teachers. Not only did I pick up some good ideas and new techniques, I was reminded that teaching can be inspirational and fun, and that one of the best sources of information about best practices is other teachers."

Larry Hilgert, Technology and Education Scholar

My early and present-day career choices were shaped by field experiences during my sophomore year of college.  On weekends I worked as a student assistant at Indiana University Medical School’s Institute for Psychiatric Research in a lab formerly used by B.F. Skinner. During the week I volunteered as a teacher’s aide at an Association for Retarded Citizens at a time when public education did not serve special needs children. In 1974 I earned a BA in psychology from Indiana University and one year later a master’s degree in pre-clinical psychology from Ball State University. The following year I was employed as temporary faculty at Indiana Central University (now University of Indianapolis).

From those early experiences grew an appreciation for the technologies associated with psychology and the importance of a field-based perspective in higher education. Technical and field-based applications continued to more formally evolve during my doctoral experiences in the school psychology program at Ball State University. Following graduation in 1983, I came to the Psychology & Counseling Department at Valdosta State for my first full-time faculty position. I completed state and national certification as a school psychologist and was awarded tenure at VSU.

In 1988, I earned licensure as a psychologist in Georgia, and the School Psychology Program at Valdosta State became Georgia’s first specialist degree program in school psychology to receive national recognition. One year later my doctorate in education from Ball State was changed to a doctorate of philosophy since I had completed a relatively rigorous research program and a relatively high-tech dissertation during doctoral training. My subsequent appointment as a Georgia teaching fellow as well as assisting with the development of the e-Core psychology course, podcasting and participation in e-learning Quality Matters, and affiliation with the iDocs group have enhanced my technical skills in and about the classroom. Contractual services through VSU to Head Start and Brooks County have brought a continuum of field-based experiences.

Technical emphasis soon became a major component of the school psychology program through the implementation of video conferencing using the Georgia State Medical and Academic System (GSAMS) for weekly practicum and internship classes. In 1998, VSU became the first Ed.S. school psychology program in the country  to submit e-portfolios on CD as part of an accreditation report (currently found as e-portfolios in LiveText). National approval in school psychology was also maintained until the program’s deactivation in 2013-14. Still involved in field-based instruction through clinical practicum, I hope to continue using video conferencing with Live Classroom and other forms of distance communication such as Second Life in an effort to reach rural areas that have challenges to access. I also plan to work with school systems in South Georgia and the Georgia Association of School Psychologists in providing continuing education in school safety. Interest in the curricular context for courses, technology, and field activities also continues with my recent appointment as an an assessment team member for NCATE/CAEP.