Constantly striving to improve her teaching effectiveness, Danna Martin uses technology to measure student understanding live in the classroom. Martin was awarded the 2006 Oklahoma State University / A&M Regents Distinguished Teaching Award for OSU-Okmulgee. She teaches psychology, sociology and business ethics courses in the university’s Arts and Sciences Division.
Martin is the first instructor on the OSU-Okmulgee campus to use the InterWrite Personal Response System (PRS) in her classroom instructional methods. PRS consists of a remote communications device that students use to respond to questions from the instructor, then the results of their responses are displayed on a screen for the entire class to see.
“I ask students a question, then when students answer using the PRS I can see whether they have read their assigned chapters. I can tell immediately if a student is falling behind or needs special instruction, so I can help them before they get too far behind. Or, if I ask students to respond with their opinion about a social issue, the group discussions are more enlightened because they can see all the students’ responses on the screen. I feel my students have benefited from using the PRS – students call them ‘clickers’ – because today’s students are very technology-oriented and work well with hand-held electronic devices.”
Martin’s use of the PRS is reflective of her innovative teaching methods – one of the reasons many instructors and students nominated her for the Regents award. “Danna is continuously searching for creative ways to present subject matter to her students, says Pat Morton, an OSU-Okmulgee social sciences instructor. “She tirelessly examines her methods of delivery, her students’ performance and understanding, and the relevance of the material. Danna personifies the qualities of a true educator, a community volunteer and a person of outstanding character.”
Martin’s philosophy of teaching includes building students’ awareness, understanding and reasoning through her curriculum, and ultimately giving them the tools to improve their own lives. “Through my classes, I teach methods students can use to earn a livelihood, save money, run a business and become better citizens and parents. My goal is to help them learn how to research a topic, to understand basic scientific methodology and think critically for themselves.”
OSU-Okmulgee social sciences instructor DeLois Middleton says Martin has a unique gift for making course work applicable to real life. “Danna continually comes up with compelling ways to help students understand and relate to instructional material.”
Former students agree that she can energize a classroom. Victoria Graham of Okmulgee remembers Martin going beyond classroom instruction to help improve students’ lives. “Mrs. Martin was an inspiration to students because she encouraged us to use our minds and knowledge to help bring about social changes and solutions.”
Sloan Wood, from the Okmulgee area, recalls Martin as a very energetic professor who was always looking for ways to improve her teaching methods to help students. “Very few of my other college professors in subsequent years have matched Mrs. Martin’s instructional abilities.”
Martin started her career as a social worker, but feels her role as an educator will allow her to help even more people. “I can do more good in reaching more people as an instructor at OSU-Okmulgee than I could if I were a therapist in private practice. As an instructor, I talk to 450 students each year about skills to help them in their lives.”
She is an advocate of the type of technical education students receive at OSU-Okmulgee. “My husband and I have always been adamant that our children learn a technical skill in addition to having a general education, which will allow them to be extremely useful to others. My sons have done so, and are doing extremely well in their careers, and my daughter is in college now studying to become an English teacher.”
Martin says her goal is to become a better teacher every year, and that the Regents Distinguished Teaching Award is a highlight of her career. “I get the privilege of working at OSU-Okmulgee, and now I’ve received this honor – it doesn’t get any better than this.”
Martin earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, and earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas. She has worked as an instructor at OSU-Okmulgee since 1994 and previously worked as a counselor and social services caseworker in Okmulgee and Dallas. She has received the Master Presenter award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, and twice received the Great and Innovative Facilitating and Teaching Award from the Oklahoma Association of Community Colleges.
Martin volunteers for organizations including CASA, Salvation Army, Okmulgee Public Library, Okmulgee Public Schools and her church. She has worked at OSU-Okmulgee for 12 years, and her husband, Bill Martin, has been an instructor in OSU-Okmulgee’s Information Technologies Division for 26 years. Their three children have graduated from or are attending OSU-Stillwater.