Assistant Professor of Biology
BIOGRAPHY Beth Thornton grew up in nearby Irwinville, GA on a farm. She did not want to spend the rest of her life in a tobacco field so she went (ran) to college. Beth Thornton attended ABAC and University of Georgia. Her degrees include an AS in Biology, a BS in Zoology, and a MS in Science Education and Outdoor Education. Her 1 st jobs after college included naturalist and education specialist positions at Sandy Creek Nature Center and UGA’s Outdoor and Environmental Education Program at Rock Eagle. She then taught general biology courses at Louisiana’s Scholars College and Northwestern State University in Louisiana before returning to ABAC. Since returning to ABAC, Beth has taught general biology courses and developed several general science courses including environmental science, environmental issues, and marine science. She serves as the Biology Coordinator for the Science Division and Co-Advisor for the Pre-Vet and Animal Science Club. She has been awarded the Board of Regents Distinguished Professor for Teaching and Learning Award for the year 1999/2000. Beth Thornton still lives on the same farm on which she grew up (She and her husband have decided the rural farm lifestyle is the best for raising their boys). She is married to G.M. Thornton who owns Thornton Forestry Services. She and G.M. have two boys, Tyler and Jasper. Tyler is an avid reader and quite a great brain. He enjoys baseball and camping. Jasper embraces life and is known for frequenting the emergency room with broken bones (current count is 6). Jasper enjoys soccer and camping. Both boys have their father’s unique sense of humor and views on life. They are incredibly creative and are intense legomaniacs.
What is my teaching philosophy? I’ve never considered myself a philosopher but here it goes – I believe that an individual’s education is his/her own responsibility. This education requires communication and successful communication is a two way street involving both the instructor and the learner. As an instructor, I may deliver content information to my students but if they do not receive and process the information then I have not effectively communicated with my students. Effective communication involves the transfer of information/experiences between TWO individuals – the instructor and the learner. Today’s students are quite different from students of our not so long ago past. The learning modalities, which this generation relies upon, are the visual and kinesthetic modalities. TV, Play Station and the computer have all placed their marks upon our current students. The students of today went through a public educational system that stressed hands-on and experiential learning activities – not lecture, note taking and rote memorization. The majority of our faculty have training and experience in their professional content area—not in teaching, educational methods nor learning modalities. Traditional lecture has its place in higher education, but it does not adequately address the learning modalities of our current and future student populations. Lecture, note taking and rote memorization does not effectively communicate information to our students. I believe that in order to enhance student learning (effective communication between the learner and teacher), faculty -myself included- need to utilize the diverse innovative teaching methods and technologies which can lead to the use of alternate approaches to instruction. These alternate approaches should include the rapidly growing technological applications available to us for use by instructors and students in and out of the classroom. Emphasis should be placed on building student skills involving critical thinking and problem solving as well as the application of student knowledge. Enhancing these skills will teach the students how to think, not just what to think, and foster a base for increased student success. As faculty improves at communicating with our rapidly changing student population, they will experience the satisfaction that results from effective teaching. Nothing motivates a person more than the satisfaction of a job well done. Successful teaching for the instructor and successful learning for the student – Moral of the story: Successful Communication Facilitates Enhanced Teaching and Learning. REFLECTION I enjoy a number of hobbies but do not have time to spend with them currently. Teaching is a therapeutic / creative outlet for me. As I go into class I get “charged” and when I leave class I feel happy. I REALLY enjoy interacting with students. I did not think of teaching as a career when I began college. None of my high school teachers were very positive role models – they were the last thing that I wanted to be “when I grew up”. I took a round about path to teaching. I majored in biology because it was interesting and easy. Once I transferred to the University of Georgia, I noticed all the other biology majors were trying to get into medical school – medical school was not for me but I had no idea what was for me. A preferences test reported my interest lied in teaching…What? That’s not what I wanted to do. I took some education classes anyway but was still not impressed with teaching as a profession. After finishing a BS in Zoology and obtaining a T-4 certification in Secondary Science Education, I took a job at a nature center and then an outdoor environmental education facility. THIS was teaching? Surely not… this was FUN! I had never had so much fun in my life! My peers at the outdoor education facilities used strategies and methodologies that I had never before seen. A great deal of my current methods and strategies grew out of my experiences in this open and creative instructional setting. Science was not a subject to read out of a book, it was and is a subject to be experienced. Active hands-on methods and creativity was encouraged and shared by all instructors. There must be a creative side to teaching. If the instructor is not creative in the presentation of the conceptual material, then that material is as uninteresting as dry toast to the students. As instructors today, we have unlimited availability to resources for classroom use. These resources range from text and supplemental resources to the ever-increasing technological innovations for use in the classroom. We are connected to the world through access to the WEB. We are limited only by our imaginations and creative abilities – oh yeah and those time constraints that come with our job! research interest