The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for improving general education courses has four inter-dependent parts, all designed to support each other in developing and teaching best practices and uses of the technology for student learning:

Faculty Commons

This center for excellence in teaching and learning will provide faculty training and professional development to ensure that all are using technology to the fullest extent possible.  One aspect of this training will be the Faculty Mentoring Program.

Faculty Mentoring Program

A key component of our QEP is the Faculty Mentoring Program.  Those mentors who are chosen will be given a 3-hour (one course) reduction in both the Fall 2014 and the Spring 2015 semesters and will be released from their teaching duties in the May 2015 term.  Up-to-date technology, including iPads and MacBook laptops, will be provided.  Mentors will be asked to participate in workshops, and travel funds will be provided when necessary. 

Fast Forward Mentors will be expected to re-develop at least one entry-level course which they usually teach in the Fall 2015 semester to use learner-centered approaches and 21st century tools in order to promote critical thinking.  The chosen course will be assessed in several ways, and the mentor will be asked to complete some of these assessments (such as surveys and rubrics) for the course he/she is teaching.

The Fast Forward Mentor Program will provide professional development opportunities, such as workshops, travel to conferences, and one-on-one instructional design assistance, to those teachers in general education whose courses are studied as part of the plan.  The first group of faculty mentors will begin their training during Year 1: 2014-2015.  The mentors will complete 12, 4-hour, bi-weekly sessions, 6 in the Fall 2014 semester, and 6 in the Spring 2015 semester.  This training will follow the curriculum described below.  The Faculty Mentors’ schedules will be adjusted so that attendance at these workshops will be convenient to all.

2014-2015 Faculty Mentors:

Rodney Bailey

Mr. Bailey teaches Oral Communication, Freshman Composition, and American Literature. In addition to his instructional duties, Mr. Bailey is also the Technology Liaison for the Jacksonville State University Writing Project, a member of the National Writing Project technology team, and a member of the National Conference for Teachers of English.  Mr. Bailey serves as the technology assistant for the JSU English Department Writing Clinic and as webmaster for the English Department and QEP websites.  He is the director of the JSU Center Stage Performance Ensemble and the JSU Marching Southerners Color Guard, and he directs color guard camps for high school and college groups across the United States.

Randal Blades

Randy Blades, Associate Professor, has been on the faculty of JSU since 2006 and is the Head of the Drama Department.  Prior to joining JSU, he was on the faculty of the University of Central Florida. .    He currently teaches costume technology courses and puppetry.  Randy has worked professionally as a costume shop manager, cutter, draper, wardrobe and stitcher.  His experience includes work at the Atlanta Opera, the Alliance Theatre, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Shakespeare Theater,  Georgia Shakespeare Festival and the movies "Drumline" and "Dumb and Dumberer."  Randy has also designed costumes for Kennesaw State University, Stage Door Players (Atlanta), Theatre UCF , Auburn University-Montgomery, Stage Door Players in Dunwoody, GA and the Maples Repertory theatre in Macon, MO.

Jan Case

Dr. Jan Case, Professor of Mathematics, teaches undergraduate and graduate statistics for the Department of Mathematical, Computing, and Information Sciences and is presently involved with redesigning JSU’s developmental mathematics courses.  Dr. Case has experience with projects designed to broaden the research participation of those who are underrepresented in STEM areas. She has mentored many students over the years and also directs the annual JSU’s School of Arts and Humanities' Student Research Symposium. She has been involved with developing the technology skills of secondary mathematics teachers for over 20 years.


Ed.D., Mississippi State University, Curriculum and Instruction, Specialization in Research Design and Statistics (1987)

M.S., Louisiana Tech University, Applied Mathematics (1983)

B.S., University of Alabama Birmingham, Secondary Education, Teaching certificates in Mathematics and English (1981)

Samuel Chuwuemeka

Samuel Chukwuemeka is a talented educator, mathematician, scientist and technologist. He naturally hails from Nigeria, where he was born and bred. He immigrated to the United States in 2007 to live, work and study. In Nigeria, he acquired a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State. In the United States, he has an Associate in Applied Technology degree in Computer Information Systems from Trenholm State Technical College; a Master of Education degree in Mathematics Education from Alabama State University; and another Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Troy University. His work experience includes seven years of teaching and tutoring math, physics and chemistry in Nigeria; a year of teaching chemistry at Selma High School in Selma; three years of teaching mathematics at Southlawn Middle School in Montgomery; and two years of working as the Student Support Services Mathematics Specialist and Adjunct Math Faculty at Troy University Montgomery in Montgomery. Presently, he is a Mathematics Instructor at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville. His hobbies include writing poems, web design, table tennis, lawn tennis, and soccer.

Llewellyn Cook

Dr. Cook attended Texas A&M University (B.S., 1988). He completed his graduate education at Florida State University (M.A., 1993; Ph.D., 1999) where he was a Teaching Associate and a member of the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution.

Dr. Cook's dissertation, "Prince Karl Philipp zu Schwarzenberg and Napoleon: Franco-Austrian Relations, 1800-1815," was completed after extensive archival research in France, Austria, and the Czech Republic. He has published articles on European diplomacy in 1809, Napoleon's marriage to Marie Louise in 1810, and the campaigns of 1812 and 1813. In addition, Dr. Cook has presented at the Society for Military History. Dr. Cook is an Academic Fellow of the Société Napoleonienne Internationale, and a member of Le Souvenir Napoleonien. He is a faculty advisor for the History Club at Jacksonville State University

Gordon Harvey

Gordon Harvey is a graduate of Auburn University (B.S. 1989, Ph.D. 1998) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (B.S. 1992, M.A. 1994). Dr. Harvey returned to his native Alabama in 2008, after teaching at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) for nine years, and serving as Head of the ULM History Department for one year. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Historical Association, the Editorial Board of the Alabama Review, and serves as a Consulting Editor for the Encyclopedia of Alabamaproject. The recipient of two endowed professorships, Dr. Harvey received several teaching awards in Louisiana, including the ULM Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Award (2001 and 2005), Outstanding Professor in the ULM College of Arts & Sciences (2005), and various awards from student groups at Auburn University and ULM. A specialist in the recent U.S. South and its politics, Dr. Harvey has published several articles, historical journals, and essays in edited works, including an essay on the politics of environmental protection in modern Florida in Paradise Lost? The Environmental History of Florida , edited by Ray Arsenault and Jack Davis (University Press of Florida, 2005).

He has written or edited four books, including A Question of Justice: New South Governors and Education Reform, 1968-1976 (University of Alabama Press, 2002; History and Hope in the Heart of Dixie: Scholarship, Activism and Wayne Flynt in the Modern South (co-editor with Richard Starnes and Glenn Feldman--University of Alabama Press, 2006), Historic Ouachita Parish (Historical Publishing Network, 2007), and Reubin Askew and the Rise of Sunbelt Florida (University of Georgia Press).

Dr. Harvey is beginning a synthetic study of the 1970s South, tentatively entitled Dixie in the Age of Disco: The 1970s and the Rise of the Acceptable South.

Carrie Kirk

Carrie Kirk is the Coordinator for Academic Readiness and Behavioral Services.  She is a 2005 graduate of Jacksonville State University with a Master of Science in Psychology.  She obtained her certification in Applied Behavior Analysis and has served within her field at The Learning Tree, Family Values, and Milestones Behavior Consulting.  At The Learning Tree, she served as a Residential Support Supervisor developing, writing, and monitoring (training and grading) implementations of student programs (education, service, and behavioral).  At Family Values, she served as the Coordinator, marketing services, writing programs, providing counseling, supervising staff, and working in partnership with families, foster children, and individuals in contact with the Department of Human Resources.  At Milestones Behavior Consulting, she served as a Behavior Analyst, conducting functional assessments, writing behavioral programs, grading skills, and training staff, teachers, and aids in the implementations of behavioral programs.

Ms. Kirk has presented research and instruction in applied behavior analysis at various professional conferences.  Ms. Kirk has been teaching at JSU since 2005.  Currently, Ms. Kirk teaches courses in Psychology and Learning Services promoting evidence-based teaching practices through the application of direct instruction and precision teaching.  Ms. Kirk is passionate about helping students of all ages achieve fluency (fast and accurate performance across skill sets).  In addition to teaching college students, Ms. Kirk also teaches preschool and elementary aged students at a local preschool and JSU’s after-school reading and math program (Learning 2 Mastery).  Student performance results from the after-school program have consistently obtained a minimum of one year gain within 10 weeks of instruction.

Tamara Levi

Dr. Tamara Levi received her B.A. in History from Lees-McRae College (1997), her M.A. from Appalachian State University (1999), and her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2006).

Her major fields of study are American Indian History, the American West, and Comparative Indigenous History. She is a member of the American Historical Association and the Western Historical Association.  She has presented at several national conferences and is currently working with Texas Tech University Press on the publication of her dissertation, Food, Control, and Resistance: Rations and Indigenous Peoples in the American Great Plains and South Australia. She currently teaches courses in Colonial America, Jefferson and Jackson, and American Indian History, as well as general American History.

Mica Mecham

Mica Mecham is a graduate of Jacksonville State University where she earned her B.A. in English in 2004 and her M.A. in English in 2005. Mrs. Mecham has served as a full-time faculty member of the English Department, teaching freshman composition, oral communication, and American literature courses since spring of 2009.  She teaches traditional classes, and beginning in 2011, she began teaching multiple hybrid courses for the department with the goal of successfully incorporating 21st century technology into her classrooms. In addition to her teaching load, she has served JSU in numerous ways over the years, including past participation in JSU's GO! Gamecock Orientation, participation and successful completion of JSU's National Writing Project Summer Institute (2007), as well as also presenting multiple presentations for the National Writing Project’s summer teaching seminar.  Other services have included serving as a judge of JSU's Writer's Bowl and as a volunteer to serve as Author Administrator for the English Department's E-thology project. She continues to serve JSU by volunteering to judge and/or participate in department-sponsored and campus-wide-sponsored writing competitions, including Imagining the Holocaust writing contest, the JSU Southern Playwrights writing competition, and she also serves as the Scholastic Advisor to a successful Greek group on campus, a position she has held for over five years and one that has even earned Mrs. Mecham the title of “Alumni Advisor of The Year” from the JSU Greek community.  As to her newest endeavor, Mrs. Mecham is looking forward to and highly anticipating her participation in JSU's Fast Forward Mentor Training program.  

Joe Morgan

Dr. Morgan is an Associate Professor serving in the Department of Chemistry and Geosciences since December 2010. His specialty is Geographic Information Science and is currently teaching GIS, Remote Sensing and Human Geography Courses at JSU. He is involved with a variety of student and interdepartmental research projects using GIS technology and spatial analysis in various social and physical applications. Dr. Morgan is a 2011 Fulbright Scholar to South Asia, spending six months as a lecturer and researcher in Nanded, India at Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University. While completing his Dissertation he made two trips to Bhutan to work with the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement and the Royal University of Bhutan. He completed his Ph.D. at The University at Buffalo in 2007 and severed as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro from 2001 until 2009, and as an adjunct at Elon University from 2003 until 2009. Prior to coming to JSU Dr. Morgan was at Texas A&M University, College Station Texas as an Instructional Assistant Professor teaching Globalization and Diversity and Principles of Cartography.

Ph.D. Geography/GIScience (2007) University at Buffalo, State University of New York

M.A. Masters in Applied Geography (1999) University of North Carolina at Greensboro

B.A. Geography and Political Science (1991) University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Teresa Reed

Teresa is a native of Alabama whose scholarly interests focus on the literature of the Middle Ages but have lately also expanded to an interest in zombies. Both topics are really just about her continued inquiry into how we imagine the past and try to understand it and its impact on us. Reed received her B.A. in English from Birmingham-Southern College (1989), her M.A. in English from the University of Virginia (1991) and her PhD in English with a focus on Middle English and literary theory from the University of Florida (1996). Her dissertation was published by the University of Wales Press under the title Shadows of Mary: Reading the Virgin Mary in Medieval Texts (2003). Reed enjoys teaching all kinds of classes, from freshman composition to literary theory and Middle English literature and looks forward to learning more from her colleagues about critical thinking skills and effective ways of helping our students acquire them.

Erin Rider

Erin Rider is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at JSU.  She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Texas Woman’s University (2010).  She has a M.A. in Women’s Studies (2006, Texas Woman’s University), and a B.A. in English (2004, Eastern Oregon University).  Erin Rider offers courses on topics such as, race/ethnicity, deviant behavior, disasters, and immigration.  Her research interests are: immigration of political refugees, armed conflict, and disaster recovery processes.  She strives to connect theory and practice in the classroom settings by encouraging students to critically reflect on social issues, understand the influence of social structure and cultural ideology, and become involved in civic engagement. 

Tanya Sasser

Tanya T. Sasser is an English Instructor at Jacksonville State University. She taught 8th and 12th grade English before joining the JSU English dept. as an adjunct instructor in Aug. 2009 and as a full-time instructor in Aug. 2010. She teaches introductory composition, speech, argumentation and debate, and a survey of the graphic novel. She has presented papers at the Alabama Regional Graduate Conference and ACETA and has led workshops for CoRE (Collaborative Regional Education) and the Jacksonville State University Writing Project’s Annual 21st Century Conference. Her publications include articles for Hybrid Pedagogy, Digital Writing Month, Gamifeye, and Virtual Education Journal. She is the recipient of the 2009 William J. Calvert Award. She blogs at remixingcollegeenglish.wordpress.com.

Stephen Tsikalas

Dr. Tsikalas is an Assistant Professor of Physical Geography serving in the Department of Chemistry and Geosciences since January 2013.  He teaches Physical Geography: Atmospheric Patterns and Processes, Meteorology, Climatology, and Natural Hazards.  His research interests are in climatology, biogeography, and geomorphology.  His most recent research addresses the geomorphic agency of mud-nesting swallows and the post Pleistocene distribution of Arundinaria gigantean in Northeastern Alabama.  In addition to teaching, he serves as faculty adviser to the Zeta Gamma Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geographic Honor Society, the Geography Club, and the Outdoor Adventure Club.  Dr. Tsikalas is also a member of Jacksonville State University’s Safe Zone Plus program. 

This training will follow the curriculum described below.

Fall 2014

Session 1: Introduction to Technology: Basic iPad use, Apple TV, Cloud

Session 2: Critical Thinking Concepts

Session 3: Assessing Courses for Learner-Centered Teaching Strategies

Session 4: Universal Design and the Development of Online Materials

Session 5: Challenge-Based, Project-Based, and Place-Based Teaching Strategies

Session 6: Becoming an Effective Mentor

Spring 2015

Session 1: Creating iBooks and iTunes U Courses

Session 2: Creating Instructional Media

Session 3: Apps for General Education Courses

Session 4: Planning for Fall 2015

Session 5: Mentor Showcase I

Session 6: Mentor Showcase II

Fast Forward Mentors will also agree to mentor two faculty members from their respective departments during the Fall 2015-Spring 2016 year, and they may be asked to present workshops for future mentor training or the entire University community.

Please download and return the application.

One-to-One iPad Initiative

In Spring 2014, faculty members will be chosen from General Education (100 or 200 level) courses to receive an iPad and participate in a Study Group that will provide research results on this initiative for analysis.  Prior to Fall 2015, these faculty will receive extensive training, and their training will continue throughout the research period. The QEP will then focus on students entering as first-time freshmen in Fall 2015.

The iPad Initiative Pilot Program will begin in the Fall 2015 semester with 14 courses taught by the first cohort of Faculty Mentors.  The Faculty Mentors, who have spent the 2014-2015 academic year in training sessions emphasizing critical thinking, active learning, and use of mobile devices in education, will choose one course to be studied as part of the QEP.  Each student who is enrolled in one of these courses will receive an iPad for use during the Fall 2015 semester.  The student will be expected to use the iPad for coursework in the Faculty Mentor’s course.  Assessments made throughout this semester will help to determine the scope of the 1:1 Initiative for the 2016-2017 academic year.

These freshman students will be given the opportunity to experience different methods of training in the use of the chosen technology.  This training will be required for students in the Study Group.  There will be two control groups:  those students enrolled in sections of General Education course sections where iPads are used to explicitly teach critical thinking through learner-centered approaches, and those students enrolled in General Education course sections where the iPads are not used in these particular ways. 

Critical Thinking Concepts

Student assessments consistently report that our students are weak in the area of critical thinking.  As a result, the Jacksonville State University Strategic Plan has specifically identified this deficiency and the need for continuous improvement.  Our strategy involves employing new methodologies and technologies in the classroom and has challenged the faculty to effectively use technology to support learning, research, information management and evidence-based decision-making. 

By providing the technology and the delivery methodologies in conjunction with mentoring and training programs mentioned above, significant progress should be made toward preparing and enhancing 21st century critical thinking skills among the student body.  These skills include communication, collaboration and the ability to locate and acquire information using current technologies in order to derive solutions to existing problems or create new knowledge.