From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice

Dr. John Harrison: Honing education from Montessori to Ruby Tuesday

May 12, 2014 | Faculty Feature

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Dr. John Harrison

Dr. John Harrison has served as the Director of Human Resources for a multi-state organization, worked with leadership committees at non-profit organizations including the Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley, and developed corporate training programs for Ruby Tuesday, Inc. that incorporated the use of adult learning principles. His experience extends to organizational development and change strategies across industry platforms. He currently serves as an Associate Professor in the College of Education, the Director of Graduate Studies and Research, and the Program Coordinator for the EdD program in Educational Leadership. John  received his PhD. in Educational Psychology and Research – Adult Education, with a cognate in Human Resource Development from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. He also earned an M.S. in Organizational Change and Leadership from Pfeiffer University and a B.S. in Business Administration – Human Resource Management from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is certified by the Society for Human Resource Management as a Senior Professional in Human Resources. Through his experience in academia, John has served as NCATE Coordinator, successfully leading a small liberal arts university’s first attempt at gaining NCATE national accreditation. He has also served as program coordinator for multiple EdD programs across two universities, the Director of Graduate Studies and Research for Louisiana Tech’s College of Education, and a campus representative for the Fulbright Scholars Program. John’s philosophy of teaching has evolved and developed as the result of many years teaching adult learners in higher education. When asked about his teaching philosophy, John stated, “I have developed the core of my philosophy as an adult educator with the following principles in mind:
  • To build upon a learner’s life experiences as a rich source of learning in the classroom, with an understanding of diversity and cultural influences,
  • To connect theory to practice with the intent of making learning accessible and relevant to learners’ life situation,
  • To facilitate a constructive, engaging, open, and safe-to-fail environment for learning,
  • To promote self-direction with an understanding that adults are responsible and capable of directing their learning experiences, and
  • To create enthusiasm for life-long learning.
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John with Dean Lawrence Leonard, Lynne Nielsen and Pauline Leonard

The value of these principles stems from my experience as an adult educator and mentor to students in corporate and higher education settings. I believe that the goal of education should be to develop reflective and more productive citizens that are capable of positive contributions to their society.” In every course and through every interaction, John encourages students to explore their academic interests and promote active reflection. He works with students to submit proposals to national conferences including the American Educational Research Association and the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. John believes in utilizing every opportunity with students to promote integrity, excellence, knowledge, and leadership. John’s current research focuses on consumerism and entitlement in higher education. John noted, “Based on years of experience teaching at the undergraduate and doctoral level as well as training in the corporate realm, I have seen issues of entitlement enter the classroom in the form of behavioral issues and unrealistic expectations. Through this experience, my research seeks to examine the sources leading to these dispositions. These issues manifest themselves in a number of ways, including: an unusually high expectation for all grade outcomes, viewing the student relationship with the university as one of customer and service provider, and seeing education as a commodity to be purchased as opposed to a degree to be earned. From this perspective, I have begun to examine practical methods for addressing the entitlement disposition in the classroom.” Addressing entitlement from a leadership, policy maker, and educator perspective, John is currently focusing on the benefits of setting boundaries, discussing expectations, and developing constructive practices fitting of the profession during orientations and classroom discussions. The purpose of these discussions are to frame the work that will be conducted by the student while engaging in studies and also to highlight the commitment needed to complete a degree. John said, “This focus naturally ties to helping students engage in productive behaviors that will benefit them while pursuing a degree and also when building a career.”
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John in the classroom

“In understanding that addressing entitlement must employ a multifaceted approach, I am building on realistic previews of higher education, including engaging learning with a focus on process, taking ownership of learning, and contributing to a collegiate and collaborative environment. For faculty this means examining ways to facilitate classroom environments that individualize learning for the student while also increasing a student’s sense of positive ownership in their education. Finally, in order to address shifting dispositions related to engaging in the university setting, I believe that it is important to examine state, federal, and university policies, popular culture perspectives, and economic factors influencing student perceptions and realities surrounding college selection. Towards this end I am in the process of developing an instrument to assess consumerism/entitlement among students in higher education. The intent is to start a dialogue aimed at improving student outcomes through a better understanding of the ways students perceive and approach learning in colleges and universities.”
JHarrison Family

John and Amanda with Lauren and Molly

On a personal level, John is a music teacher for the Montessori School of Ruston where he works to enrich the lives of children through music. He also enjoys running “fun runs” for various causes with his 5 and 9 year old daughters, Lauren and Molly. John’s wife, Amanda, has recently completed her Masters degree in Kinesiology at the University of Tennessee. Prior to coming to Ruston, John was active with Habitat for Humanity building homes and played an active part in volunteering for charitable organizations. Before pursuing a PhD. at the University of Tennessee, John had the opportunity to play on multiple occasions with a professional symphony orchestra in Winston-Salem, NC. Regarding his life in Ruston, John reflected, “We could not be happier to be a part of the Louisiana Tech family.”