Dr. Misti Sharp, Associate Teaching Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator for the UF/IFAS Department of Food & Resource Economics, was recently recognized with the Southern Agricultural Economics Association’s (SAEA) Emerging Scholar Award for Teaching.
These awards are designed to highlight the work of high-performing early-career professionals in the profession of agricultural economics and are given annually in the categories of research, extension, and teaching.
Dr. Sharp has also been recognized previously for her excellence in the classroom, most recently as UF CALS 2020 Undergraduate Teacher of the Year and with the North American Colleges & Teachers of Agriculture (NACTA) Educator Award in Summer 2021. She also received a teaching award from SAEA for the Outstanding Teaching of a Course in 2021.
Sharp received the current award in February at the SAEA Annual Conference in Oklahoma City, where she also delivered a presentation on team-based learning, a method she said serves as the cornerstone of her teaching program and overall philosophy in the classroom.
“In my statistics course, I use team-based learning, a pedagogical approach that has students prepare for class by watching asynchronous lectures followed by class spent in active learning activities including readiness assurance and application,” Sharp said. “This approach eases the anxiety that students often have towards statistics and quantitative methods by allowing them to problem solve in small groups, which is shown to improve both their grades and understanding of course material.”
In addition to anecdotal evidence and stories of individual student success, Sharp said this approach is backed by her research results, including a recently revised manuscript on “Impacts of Intentional Team Formation on Peer Learning in Online and Face-to-Face Learning Environments.”
“This research contributes to the scant literature on both diversity and team-based learning in the agricultural economics field,” Sharp said.
In addition to teaching courses such as Agritourism and Food Systems, Agricultural Data Analysis, and Contemporary Issues in Agribusiness Management, Dr. Sharp also coaches the department’s academic Quiz Bowl team. The team is composed of undergraduate students in the Food and Resource Economics department, and these students also traveled with Sharp to compete at SAEA, and two of the students were on teams that placed second and fourth, respectively, in the competition.
This summer, she will host a study abroad program in Ghent, Belgium, focused on sustainable food systems in a global economy.
“Students learn best when they are able to actively engage with the material. For statistics, it is through team-based real-world problem solving. For quizbowl, it is through trial and error with peers in a competitive environment. For study abroad, internships, and research experiences it is through engaging with the local knowledge and resources bases to gain an understanding of why the world works the way it does. These high-impact practices are what an undergraduate career is all about and why I spend so much of my time engaging students in these ways.”