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Belmont University

Student Spotlight: Jeffrey A. Russell

Adult Learning

Jeffrey is currently seeking his PhD in educational psychology and research with the Adult Learning program. Originally from Brentwood, TN, he graduated with his BS and a Post-Bacc. from Middle Tennessee State University and earned an MS in English with a writing emphasis from Belmont University. In 2012, he joined Adult Learning at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. We asked him to reflect on some past and current experiences. Read his responses below.

  • Joined Behavioral Intervention Team at Pellissippi State Community College
  • Promoted from instructor to tenured assistant professor of the English Department at Pellissippi State Community College

Presentations & Publications

  • Russell, J., & Vess, K. (2017). Expressive writing: Giving students a voice to their learning experiences! American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, Memphis, TN.
  • Vess, K., & Russell, J. (2017). Mind the gap: How to help fledgling online students through C.A.R.I.N.G. Appalachian College Association, Kingsport, TN.
  • Russell, J., & Vess, K. (2016). Educating the next generation: A practical guide to the millennial student! Appalachian College Association, Kingsport, TN.
  • Brown, C., & Russell, J. (2016). Millennials: From entitlement to empowerment. Two-Year College English Association-Southeast Conference, Knoxville, TN.
  • Russell, J. (2016). Fostering transformative learning: Overcoming barriers using expressive writing and gratitude. Tennessee Association for Student Success and Retention, Chattanooga, TN.
  • Russell, J., & Vess, K. (2015). Academic entitlement: Challenging assumptions and moving forward. Pellissippi State Community College Success Conference, Knoxville, TN.
  • McCrary, M., Gibson, I., & Russell, J. (2015). Intrusive teaching: Teaching English 1010 and its co-requisite as a single class. Tennessee Association For Student Success and Retention Conference, Dickson, TN.
  • Vess, K., & Russell, J. (2014). Academic entitlement: Are we preparing students for real life?
    American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, Charleston, SC.
  • Vess, K., Teel, C., Ambrose, V., & Russell, J. (2014). We’re only human! How emotions influence our teaching, health, and well-being. American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, Charleston, SC.
  • Russell, J., & Vess, K. (2014). Flourishing students: Using reflective gratitude journaling to improve student retention. 2014 Appalachian College Association Summit Event, Knoxville, TN.
  • Russell, J. (2013). The effects of reflective journal writing: A tool for improving student success. Tennessee Association for Student Success and Retention Conference, Dickson, TN.
  • Russell, J. (2013). Using reflective journaling to improve adult learning in the community college classroom. American Association of Adult and Continuing Education 62nd Annual Conference, Lexington, KY.
  • Russell, J. (2010). Finding healing through writing in psychotherapy. Trauma: Intersections among Narrative, Neuroscience, and Psychoanalysis Conference, Washington, D.C.
Current Occupation

Assistant Professor
English Department
Pellissippi State Community College

Personal Interests

I love playing music, and I love spending time with my family. In my free time (which is not often), I enjoy reading, writing, and movies. Also, I am avid hockey and college football fan. Since I am a proud father, I spend much of my time taking my daughter to her extra-curricular activities such as soccer and gymnastics. Overall, I have many interests, and I like to meet people who are passionate about their own interests.

Future/Vocational Goals

I plan to continue researching expressive writing, positive psychology, and transformative learning. In particular, I want to continue my work to see how writing and other forms of written disclosure can provide a voice for college students transitioning to college or the workplace. My colleague, assistant professor Kellee Vess, and I are currently working on a model to help students make this transition. I am a firm believer that students can succeed when given the proper tools to help with their coping skills, interpersonal relationships, and overall well-being. I want to continue my work in finding ways to help students become more self-regulated and successful in the classroom and beyond.

What sold you on this program/department/university?

When I first began this journey, I thought I would be pursuing a PhD in English. When I started teaching at the community college level, I realized I felt more connected to learning and teaching methods. My first thought was to apply to the Theory and Practice in Teacher Education program, but after I met with associate professor Susan Groenke and discussed my goals, she mentioned the Educational Psychology and Counseling program. Then, I met with professor Ralph Brockett and professor emerita Mary Ziegler, I realized that I was in the right place. They sold me on the program for two reasons. First, Mary and Ralph treated me like I was already in the program and listened to all my ideas and plans. Second, I felt that their background, publications, and expertise were top-notch, and, after learning about the program, I knew from that point this was the place for me.

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

I would tell an incoming student to focus on research and collaborate with others in the program as much as you can. Such great ideas can be developed with your peers! Also, I would advise a new doctoral student in the program to get involved early with a variety of studies and go to conferences. Students need to go to conferences early in their doctoral program to network, and they need to submit to journals and conferences as much as they can to gain experience and learn about new opportunities in the field.