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2010 News Releases

Longwood professor to speak about education research in Faculty Colloquium Lecture

March 24, 2010

Gena Southall Dr. Gena Southall

Dr. Gena Southall, assistant professor of English at Longwood University, will give a Faculty Colloquium Lecture on Thursday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in Orr Auditorium (Hull 132) on "Hands-On and Minds-On: Cooperative Learning Done Right."

Southall, a Longwood alumna (B.A. 1997, M.A. 2000), will speak about her research into, and efforts toward, how colleges and universities can better prepare future teachers by using a cooperative approach to learning that involves "cooperative base groups." In this approach, students are "grouped based on interests and abilities, usually for an entire semester, and work together on everything ranging from small in-class assignments to major projects," she said.

"Cooperative base groups can be used to present academic content, to assist and solidify students' critical thinking and metacognition, and to give students sustained support for academic and social progress," said Southall, who has used them in her classes since joining the Longwood faculty in 2006. "Being involved in these base groups is especially important for preservice secondary English teachers who will be relying on cooperative learning to reach pedagogical goals in their own classrooms."

Cooperative base groups were the focus of Southall's doctoral dissertation, in which she interviewed students who were currently using them in class, as well as student teachers and first-year teachers, whom she asked if they use them in their own classrooms. "I found that a lot of teachers are using cooperative base groups because they found them so beneficial," she said.

Southall was first exposed to this method as a doctoral student in the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education when, as a teaching assistant, it was used by Dr. Susan Mintz, associate professor of education, with whom she was team teaching Secondary Instruction and Assessment (EDIS 502), a graduate-level general methods course for secondary teachers. Southall received an Ed.D. in English education from U.Va. in 2006.

While working on her doctorate, she taught courses in education at Longwood and supervised practicum students and student teachers. Her B.A. is in English literature (secondary education concentration), and her M.A. is in English education and writing. As a Longwood undergraduate, she was president of Lambda Iota Tau, the English honor society.

The Farmville native was a 12th grade English teacher at Prince Edward County High School in 2001-02 and a 9th and 10th grade English teacher at Fuqua School from 1998 to 2001.

The Faculty Colloquium Series showcases faculty research and gives faculty members the opportunity to share research with the university community. One proposal is selected for the fall and one for the spring. Selected speakers receive a $1,000 honorarium and a reception following their talk.