Rocconi Wins SGA Award

Louis Rocconi, assistant professor, won the UT Student Government Association (SGA) Open Education Award at a ceremony co-hosted with University Libraries on April 18.

Rocconi SGA Open Education Award

“I feel very honored. Honestly, I was surprised to win an award my first year at UT! I want to thank all of my students and especially the ones who nominated me. Thank you for inspiring me to do my best.”

What do you think made your nomination stand out for the SGA Open Education Awards?
I think my nomination stood out because I try to make my course materials accessible and relatable to all students. There is so much information freely available online on introductory statistical methods that I thought I should try to use these resources in my course in lieu of a traditional textbook.

What Open Educational Resources do you use?
The virtual textbook I use in my EDPY 577: Statistics in Applied Fields I is a freely available online textbook called “Online Statistics Education: A Multimedia Course of Study” ( by Project Leader David Lane at Rice University. The textbook includes some great virtual demonstrations and simulations that you typically don’t get with a physical textbook. Plus, it not only has a web version but also includes a mobile version, PDF, and an ebook for the iPhone and iPad. I also supplement the text with other online resources and notes.

Yamagata-Lynch Chosen as OIT Fellow

Associate professor, Lisa Yamagata-Lynch, was selected as one of two Office of Information Technology (OIT) Faculty Fellows for the 2016-17 academic year. Yamagata-Lynch came to UT Knoxville and joined the Educational Psychology and Counseling (EPC) Department in 2011. We asked her about her experiences so far, and her plans for the future. Read her responses below.

Why did you want to become an OIT Faculty Fellow?
I found out about the OIT Faculty Fellow opportunity couple of years ago, when another faculty who I met during my job interview here became a fellow. He encouraged that I apply, but it was not the right time for me then with my tenure and promotion timeline. I waited a few years, applied for the fellowship for the 2016 to 2017 academic year, and was offered the position.

What are some things you have done in this position?
The goals I set for myself in my fellowship application included the following areas of potential contributions by providing:

  • faculty and staff workshops for designing and developing asynchronous and synchronous courses and programs,
  • consultation services for faculty and administrators interested in designing/redesigning online courses and programs,
  • consultation services for addressing accreditation issues with online programs, and
  • consultation services for addressing assessments for multi-section online courses.

As UT is in a transition between Blackboard and Canvas for our learning management system, most of my efforts have been organizing materials for faculty to use Canvas, and consultation time with faculty about Canvas. I have also been involved in organizing the ITCoP (IT Community of Practice) brown bag series, where we often have a panel of experts/guests share examples of their work and engage in audience questions and answers.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to be part of a search committee for a full time instructional designer for OIT. It was great to be part of this team and meet great candidates for the position. I look forward to working with the person who was hired.

What else are you planning on accomplishing?
I hope to continue helping both OIT staff and faculty to make the transition between Blackboard and Canvas.

What have you most enjoyed about this experience?
I have enjoyed being able to have a space in OIT, and get to know the staff a lot better than I would be able to otherwise. We truly have dedicated professionals at OIT who are there to help us when we are in need. At times, I think that faculty may not know what exactly they need help with, but people at OIT are happy to work with us in any way that they can.

“As my term is getting closer to an end it feels like there is always more that I could have done. Moving an entire organization from one learning management system to another is hard work in all stakeholders and end users. I hope to be able to help in any other way possible in the future.”

Dascomb Wins First at Global Experiences Conference

Amanda Dascomb, PhD candidate in the Learning Environments and Educational Studies (LEEDS) program, won first place for her research poster presentation at the 2017 Global Experiences Conference – an event co-sponsored by the UT Honors and Scholars programs. The conference was open to anyone in the UT community with an interest in international and intercultural experiences.

“The Global Experiences Conference was a refreshing and engaging way to see international research projects from departments across UT. I loved the interdisciplinary networking opportunity, and I feel very honored to have won the first place poster when every project was interesting and well researched.”

Dascomb’s poster presentation was titled: “Montessori Language Learning in Guadeloupe.”

For more information about her experiences check out: LEEDS Student Wins Scholarship and Travels to Guadeloupe

Sue Culpepper

Adult Education

Sue is currently seeking her MS in educational psychology with the Adult Education program. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, she received her BS in business administration with a concentration in accounting at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). She joined EPC in 2016, and still lives in Chattanooga. We asked her to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read her responses below.

Current Occupation

Joseph F. Decosimo Success Center
UTC College of Business
Chattanooga, TN

Student success is my passion. Using my experience from my previous 25 years in banking has allowed me to develop a focus for students to become business world ready. In the Success Center in the College of Business at UTC, we offer our professional academic advisors to academic achievement and the Career Development Center to assist students in becoming competitive in the business world through professional development opportunities and internships.

Personal Interests

My family time together is very important and I truly enjoy hanging out with my with husband, Lee (retired engineer, UTC ’70, ’76), our two children and their spouses, our two grandchildren (Topher and Patricia), our dog, Riley and grand dogs (Rosie and Laney). Hiking is one of my personal pleasures in life, and we try to get to Colorado each summer to fill that space! Yoga is something that Lee and I enjoy frequently, as well as spending time walking Riley and consider mindful living as a ritual of our lifestyle. Additionally, travel is a great learning experience, and we love to travel to educate ourselves about other parts of the world.

Future/Vocational Goals

My only goal at this stage of my life is to be more effective at UTC. The increased understanding of the dynamics of the way adults learn, the techniques of program planning, and the fascinating theories of educational psychology and adult learning will allow me to broaden the scope of services and apply my knowledge to provide a more robust experience for our students.

What would you tell an incoming student who joins the program/department?

Make a commitment to yourself be an active participant in the program. The program is so amazing and the sharing of experiences from our many backgrounds provides an inclusive learning platform. We enjoy others’ similarities, differences, and perspectives as we learn from one another. The faculty brings the theory to life through a variety of means, and the students confirm our learning through our experiences.

What do you think has been the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

I came from the business world with a successful 30-year career in the financial industry. Making the transition from the business environment and philosophy to education was in itself a personal challenge. This program is not easy. The challenge in producing and addressing the theoretical assignments in a scholarly way has made me a better writer and thinker. I look at the world differently now.  It has opened up another world of information that is very exciting and applicable in many ways.

Nelson Awarded NAJA Graduate Scholarship

Jessica Nelson, master’s student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, was awarded the National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA) Graduate Scholarship. Initiated in 1962, the NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program has awarded over 5o0 grants totaling over a million dollars for graduate study in fields addressing the unique needs of youth and children.

Jessica Nelson

I feel honored to have been selected for this scholarship. I am sure there were many other qualified applicants. I also feel affirmed in my educational and career paths.

She found this scholarship opportunity by searching the internet for graduate student scholarships. To apply, she filled out an online application form including a personal statement, resume, and the cost of attending UT Knoxville. She also had to request official transcripts to be sent to NAJA and three letters of recommendation. Once she was selected as a semi finalist,  she had a 10-minute phone interview with the NAJA scholarship board.

What do you think made your application stand out?

The NAJA scholarship is specifically for graduate students living in states with a NAJA chapter who plan to work with children. Because my resume reflects my commitment to working with children in Tennessee, I believe they were confident when I told them I would continue on this path as a counselor.

Upsilon Theta Wins CSI Outstanding Individual Program Award

The Upsilon Theta Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota (CSI), is the 2017 recipient of the CSI Outstanding Individual Program Award for its engagement with the Odd Fellows Cemetery Project. This award honors a chapter program that provides outstanding community service or professional development. The criteria include planning, committee involvement, length of time, recruitment strategies, advertising, media, and attendance at program. Two people were integral to this award – current service chair Justin Hawkersmith, and past service chair Kevin Webster.

Justin is a master’s student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and co-chaired the position with Kevin last fall. Kevin (’16) is an alumni of the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and became the service chair in 2015. With the guidance and support of current and past faculty advisors (Casey Barrio Minton and Shawn Spurgeon, respectively), they helped create and grow relationships Upsilon Theta built with the Knoxville Reanimation Coalition and Katherine Ambroziak (associate professor from the College of Architecture and Design), who heads the project at the Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Kevin said, “I was sincerely elated and surprised, not because I didn’t think our project was worthy of recognition, but because I had not done anything like this before. Although recognition is not necessary, it can help keep momentum going for an organization. It can stimulate even bigger and better ideas and growth. I hope the award motivates others who join CSI to think about not only what they can do but also what is possible. I am also excited for what this means for the Knoxville Reanimation Coalition, the group whose mission it is to maintain, revitalize, and enhance the East Knoxville community. I think they are doing some of the most important work in Knoxville. They don’t do it for recognition; they engage in hard work to improve the neighborhood that is home to them.”

Justin expressed, “I am truly honored to be receiving this award and to see how Kevin and Katherine Ambroziak’s hard work has paid off. If there is anything I would like to add to this piece, it would be how important service and advocacy (the driving force of service) are to the counseling profession. If we truly want to serve our clients whether we are in schools or in mental health settings, we need to be active and intentional members of our community, and I think service events through Chi Sigma Iota are excellent way to begin that meaningful process of engagement.”

Kevin explained the application process:

Every fall, CSI opens applications for chapter awards and student nominations for national positions. Casey Barrio Minton (associate professor), our current chapter advisor and long-time member of CSI, encouraged us to apply for the chapter award. I agreed with her that I thought it was a good idea, and I was happy to help. I honestly did not think we would have a chance because I thought the relationship was too new. However, since CSI-UT’s participation in the the Odd Fellows Cemetery project, our student engagement in service activities improved tremendously – in part because of the uniqueness of the project itself, in part from some new enthusiasm coming from the student board, and in part because I think there are some emerging ideas coming from the counseling community regarding social justice and community-level work that individual “therapy” simply does not address. Service and building community relationships are critical aspects of my life that I love and want to share with others, and I tried to provide that opportunity for anyone who was interested while I was service chair. So, naturally, I think others picked up on that.

Justin Hawkersmith and myself worked on the application proposal with Casey Barrio Minton and Katherine Ambroziak to submit letters of recommendation for the project. We spoke on not only what it meant to engage CSI counseling members in a project that was off campus and in a predominantly black community but also on the importance and meaning of the project itself. The cemetery represents an important part of black history and black heritage in Knoxville, and its current dilapidated state is worth the reflection and attention of the greater Knoxville community. Counselors, who more often than not are white and middle class, will go on to work with individuals from a variety of communities different than their own, but may not have an in-depth understanding of those communities and the issues within them. Given the current climate of our society, it is integral more than ever that organizations and university groups build and foster relationships and work on real problems.

Barrio Minton really helped make the process easy. Writing the application was the easy part, because the project meant a lot to me and Justin and I hoped to really see it continue even after I graduated from the program. Barrio Minton really helped pull it together, helped us stay organized, and made sure we had what we needed to submit a quality proposal.

Upsilon Theta was recognized and awarded during a ceremony held at the ACA Annual Conference and Expo in San Francisco, CA from March 16-19, 2017.

For more information about this project, check out the following Counselor Education blog stories:
CSI-UT Sponsors Service Event at Odd Fellows Cemetery
CSI-UT Returns to Odd Fellows Cemetery to Continue Service
CSI-UT Sponsors Service Event at Odd Fellows Cemetery

Steven Frye

Adult Learning

Steven earned a PhD in educational psychology and research with a concentration in the Adult Learning (formerly Adult Education) program in 2007. He is originally from Altoona, PA and currently lives in Cookeville, TN. We asked him to reflect on past experiences with EPC and discuss where he’s at now. Read his responses below.

Current Occupation

Associate Professor & Interim Director
School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Tennessee Tech University (TTU)
Cookeville, TN

Interdisciplinary Studies majors create a customized/personalized major built upon two emphasis areas. Because of the nature of our department, I have the opportunity to teach a variety of courses: Adult Learning; Critical Thinking and Problem Solving; Introduction to Religious Studies; Introduction to Honors; Academic and Community Connections (a summer course for student-athletes); Introduction to the University Experience (freshman student-athletes); and even an honors colloquium – Intro to Ancient Greek!

Awards and Accomplishments Earned as a Student
  • #1 – Finished my Dissertation!!
  • Phi Kappa Phi – 2007
  • Chair of the Graduate Student Group, American Association for Adult and Continuing Education
Accomplishments since Graduating
  • Receiving the TTU Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, and the Award for Excellence in First-Year Experience Instruction in 2016 – teaching is somethings I am passionate about.
  • Serving as the current president of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education.
Personal Interests

I am passionate about family. My wife Becky and I have been married for 32 years. Jordan and Taylor, our two sons, both graduated from TTU, and live in Knoxville. I enjoy traveling with Becky and any family members we can bring along, fishing (especially in my Kayak), fixing things, playing guitar, and hanging out with special friends.

What do you think was the most rewarding/challenging about this program?

My experience at UT Knoxville truly prepared me for my career at TTU. I was honored to work with some amazing faculty who pushed me and challenged me to branch out and grow: Ralph Brockett and Mary Ziegler in Adult Education, John Peters in Collaborative Learning, Sandra Thomas in Nursing, Howard Pollio in Psychology, and Kathy Greenberg in Educational Psychology. UT Knoxville also gave me opportunities to teach in Educational Psychology and Career and Personal Development that greater prepared me to be a university professor.

Did you end up where you thought you would?

I took a position at TTU teaching Educational Psychology courses to undergraduate teacher education students while in the dissertation process. After three years on an that annual contract, I became the first faculty member in the new College of Interdisciplinary Studies. Everything happening in this new program fit my background, experience, and training. Within the past three years we were able to create courses and a minor in Religious Studies, the area of my first three degrees. Did I expect this? No. But it is wonderful to end up exactly where you belong!

How did your experiences as a student help you in your professional/personal life after graduation?

My relationship with professor Ralph Brockett has continued on in my career beyond UT Knoxville. He has been a constant encourager and colleague, supporting me along the way and still mentoring me as only Ralph Brockett can! At the end of my time as a student I became friends with Jonathan Taylor, who followed me as the Program GA in Adult Education. Over the past few years we have researched, presented, written, and traveled together. On top of that, together with our wives and children we have developed a very special family friendship. Another amazing gift received because of my time at UT Knoxville.

“I am truly grateful for my time at UT Knoxville, and would consider myself a proud product of the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling. My experiences at UT empowered me to grow academically and professionally, and led me to my current position (Steve McCallum recommended me to TTU). Whenever I have the opportunity, I encourage potential students to take a strong look at the Adult Learning program at UT.”

Farrell Places First at Research Colloquium

Isabel C. Farrell, PhD student in Counselor Education, won first place for her poster presentation at the 13th Annual Graduate Student Research Colloquium hosted by the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

Isabel C. Farrell places first for her poster presentation

Farrell was encouraged to apply by Counselor Education alumna Amanda DeDiego (’16). She said, ” I almost didn’t apply to the colloquium because my topic is focused on counselor education programs, so I thought most people wouldn’t understand the implications. However, I was surprised to see that many people outside of the program related to the topic and understood the importance.”

Isabel C. Farrell

I felt extremely honored and surprised! I read the email about 10 times to make sure I was reading it right. There were so many talented scholars there, and I am honored that my research was chosen.

Her poster was titled “Counselor, Instructor, Supervisor, Classmate: Managing Multiple Relationships in Doctoral Programs.” The presentation reported the preliminary results of a qualitative, grounded theory study that investigated how doctoral students remained genuine and connected while navigating multiple relationships and boundary crossings and implications for counselor educators. This research is being conducted along with Casey Barrio Minton, associate professor.

Farrell thanked Casey Barrio Minton, associate professor, for all her support and guidance and Lauren Moret, assistant professor, for inspiring her to do this type research. She said, “I think we (in this college) are so lucky to have such amazing and supportive faculty.  Also, to all students, your research is important and valuable! I keep learning that through the course of this degree.”

The Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling was honored to have other participants present at the 13th Annual Graduate Student Research Colloquium.

Lezli Anderson | School Psychology
– poster presentation
“Critical Thinking: A Predictor of School-Bases Academic and Social Success”

Emily Gray | Adult Learning
– oral presentation
“Student and Instructor Experiences with Types of Teaching and Learning in a Computer Course”

Jessica Osborne | Evaluation, Statistics & Measurement
– poster presentation
“Assessing Impact: Measuring Student Perceptions of Development Through Participation in Academic Support Programs”

Victoria VanMaaren | School Psychology
– poster presentations
“Reducing Hallway Disruptions through Group Contingencies and Explicit Timing: A Variation of the Timely Transitions Game”
“The Effect of Anonymous Versus Confidential Extra Credit Contingencies on Course Evaluation Submission Rates”

Laura S. Wheat | Assistant Professor
– faculty spotlight

Barrio Minton Receives ACA National Award

Casey Barrio Minton, associate professor, is the 2017 recipient of the American Counseling Association (ACA) Arthur A. Hitchcock Distinguished Professional Service Award. This award honors service by an ACA member at the local, state, or national level in promoting the well-being of the counseling profession. It is the most well-established national award still given by the ACA, having started in 1975.

“I serve the organizations I serve because I believe our collective work facilitates a context in which professional counselors can develop their skills and serve their communities. On one hand, the recognition feels deeply meaningful and affirming because it reflects back an important part of my identity. On the other, it feels somewhat incongruent; I serve because I believe we have a collective responsibility to our profession and our community, not for individual recognition or reward.”

Barrio Minton was nominated for this award by the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC), a division of ACA for which she has served as president. She will be recognized and awarded during a ceremony held at the ACA Annual Conference and Expo in San Francisco, CA from March 16-19, 2017.