September 14, 2023

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Meet Evelyn Davis-Walker, 2023 VSU Presidential Excellence Award for Teaching Honoree

Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University, recently honored Evelyn Davis-Walker with the 2023 Presidential Excellence Award for Teaching.

VALDOSTA — Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University, recently honored Evelyn Davis-Walker with the 2023 Presidential Excellence Award for Teaching.

The Presidential Excellence Award for Teaching recognizes a faculty member who employs innovative teaching strategies and demonstrates a strong commitment to student success.

Davis-Walker joined the faculty of VSU’s College of the Arts in 2016 and currently serves as an associate professor of graphic design in the Department of Art & Design. 

VSU: What are your favorite classes to teach and your favorite topics to research?

Davis-Walker: One of my favorite courses to teach is our Storytelling class. In it, my students learn the various forms of visual storytelling through projects such as designing their own children’s books, board games, and stop motion animations. I enjoy teaching students traditional and non-traditional methods of telling a story. Regardless of the course, I find ways of incorporating collaboration, craftsmanship, cross-disciplinary practice, and care with my students in their journey to become lifelong learners.

VSU: What strategies / tools / techniques have proven most effective in increasing student learning in your classroom?

Davis-Walker: I have found experiential learning an extremely effective strategy for my students. I have two separate courses where I have had Quality Enhancement Plan-endorsed activities that have helped increase student engagement with the content as well as with each other as collaborators. With these hands-on activities, students are given agency and ownership with projects that allow them to reflect on the experience and add to their creative process.

VSU: Helping students achieve success often involves countless hours of work outside the classroom. In what ways do you actively engage with your students to continue the learning process outside of scheduled class times?

Davis-Walker: I try to be as accessible to my students as I can while still striking a work and life balance. I use email, office hours, and the chat function within Microsoft TEAMS as way to keep the lines of communication open. One minor gesture that I think goes a long way is how I allow anyone — whether they are a student of mine or not — to work in the computer lab while I am in there with another class. I never want to slow down someone’s momentum on a project or require them to find another computer lab to work in, especially if that time is the only available hour in their day. My message to those wanting to work outside of scheduled class times is, “If I have an empty seat, you have an open invitation.” I can’t count the number of students that have taken me up on my offer, and who have communicated their appreciation year after year.

VSU: What advice do you have for other faculty who wish to identify more effective ways to stimulate engagement and comprehension in their own classroom?

Davis-Walker: Over the last 18 months, I have worked closely with other amazing faculty on campus as part of a Faculty Learning Community on the pedagogy of care. Our group has been studying current research on the topic as well as identifying ways in which we have naturally integrated care in our classrooms. I truly believe this method of teaching is how I am effectively able to engage my students in our course content and will be even more popular in the years to come.

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