Here at ADInstruments, we have long been strong advocates for innovation in teaching and the creative use of technology in the classroom. One way in which we recognize educators who are going above and beyond in the classroom is through the Macknight Innovative Educator Award, presented annually in conjunction with the APS.
This year, we would like to congratulate Dr. John J. Durocher, Associate Professor of Health Studies at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), as the 2021 recipient of the Macknight Award!
Of the award, John says, ‘I am very honored to have received the ADInstruments Macknight Innovative Educator Award for 2021. The equipment and supplies that we have received as part of the award will be invaluable to the students in our Health Studies program.’
‘Thanks to this award, we now have gold-standard equipment to provide hands-on training for students in courses such as essentials of nutrition, exercise physiology, stress management, and advanced human physiology.’
In the last 12 years, John has actively been involved as the lead instructor in almost 40 courses, and his current efforts are focused on teaching health studies and human physiology at PNW.
John's interest in the field stemmed from one of his undergraduate teachers, Ronald K. Gratz, PhD, who made a point of associating the anatomy and physiology taught in class to real-life experiences. Dr. Gratz's teaching style piqued John's interest in A & P and set him down his career in health science education.
John says, ‘Within a few days of starting Dr. Gratz's A &P course, I knew that the field of physiology was for me. In the last few weeks of the second semester, Dr. Gratz asked if I would like to be a teaching assistant in the lab the following year. I served a year as a volunteer in the lab, then was paid to be a TA for a lab section during my senior year, and went on to take over for Dr. Gratz when he retired 10 years after I took his course.’
Like Dr. Gratz, John aims to include as many real-world applications in his classes as possible. He explains, ‘I break up lectures with concept questions that students respond to with i-clickers. Based on the percentage of successful responses to these questions, I can either go back to review or quickly summarize and move on to new content.’
John also looks for opportunities to bring in specialized pieces of equipment and perform in-person demonstrations for the students to explain important concepts in a hands-on manner.
John says, ‘I’m looking forward to integrating the Lt lessons into a variety of my classes. For example, the energy metabolism and energy expenditure & exercise lessons will be extremely valuable for our essentials of nutrition class, and the aerobic fitness testing and cardiorespiratory effects of exercise in our exercise physiology course.
Related: Learn more about Lt’s ready-to-use Human and Exercise Physiology Labs »
For John, it’s the students who keep him motivated to work each day and continue improving the way health sciences are taught. He explains, ‘The best part of my work is helping students gain skills, grow intellectually, and receive the education, training, and life-skills that will help them in their future professions. My students have gone into a variety of healthcare professions and have been highly successful.'
'I want to help students to go far beyond what they may have initially envisioned when graduating from high school. I was lucky to have a handful of professors that offered opportunities to me, and I hope in many ways to emulate what they did and to pay it forward.’
Advice for those beginning their academic careers...
When asked what advice he would have for those just starting their academic careers, John replied, ‘Keep your eyes open for opportunities and don’t be afraid to get involved. I am so happy that even though I initially had a fear of teaching, I started as a teaching assistant and a learning center coach twenty years ago. As the saying goes - Big journeys start with a single step.'
'For those pursuing research opportunities, look for an active laboratory that has a primary investigator with a strong history of mentoring when possible. Besides the mentor, it is important to find a lab that has a supportive network of peers. I could not say enough about how student researchers help each other to work through challenges. One thing that I wish that I would have done much sooner was attend conferences. There are on-campus, local, and regional options that you can start with. By presenting and networking at conferences, you will advance your skills and your career. I would also recommend applying for grants and fellowships. Every time that you complete one of these applications you will get better at writing and communicating!'
Congratulations again John, from all of us here at ADInstruments - we look forward to hearing more about your teaching in the future!