Tusculum College professor published in teaching journal

Tusculum College History Professor Angela Keaton has been published in the June/July issue of “The Teaching Professor.”

Dr. Keaton’s work was based on her involvement with the Tusculum College Professionalism Initiative. The article, “Professionalism Isn’t Just for the Workplace,” reports Dr. Keaton’s efforts to incorporate the professionalism initiative into each of her courses.

Dr. Keaton reports in the article that on the first day of class, she explained to students why professionalism would be part of each student’s overall class grade. Graded behaviors and attitudes would include commitment to excellence, comportment, integrity, among others.

She explains that these will be expectations in the workplace, and the classroom can, and should be, a training ground for students as they prepare to enter the professional workforce. Accordingly, eight professional values are listed and defined on course syllabi. These behaviors and attitudes are derived from my college’s professionalism initiative and are commitment to excellence, honesty and integrity, expertise, humility, respect, compassion, awareness of interpersonal boundaries and comportment.

By covering both academic and co-curricular activities, the Professionalism for Leadership Initiative at Tusculum College seeks to help students establish what behaviors are associated with professionalism. Students have opportunities provided by Tusculum College that will promote professionalism and success, such as etiquette dinners, resume workshops and practice job scenarios. Several courses also have assignments that tie into the professionalism that should be exhibited by professionals of that area of study. The Professionalism for Leadership Initiative was implemented with support from the Niswonger Foundation and is chaired by Dr. Joel Van Amberg, associate professor of history.

During her courses, Dr. Keaton regularly asked students to write a short paper on the professional code of conduct or ethics for their specific discipline. She also created assignments that let them demonstrate their professionalism, such as debates or a group project.

Dr. Keaton reports, “As a result of these changes in my courses, student behavior has improved immensely.” One student confessed, “I have failed to exhibit the values of professionalism because I never arrived to class on time and I turned in one of my papers late.” The paper reports that other students admitted that they knew their behavior would be unacceptable to other professors and employers.

Dr. Keaton concludes, “We do not have to dismiss inappropriate behavior as a sign of youthful immaturity or let it exasperate us. We can instead help students develop the skills, attitudes, and behaviors they need to chart a successful course as students and soon to be professionals.”

Dr. Keaton currently serves as associate professor history and commons at Tusculum College. She earned her Ph.D. in history from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She received her master’s of arts degree in history from Marshall University and her bachelor’s of arts degree in history from Concord University. She specializes in the topics of United States social and cultural history, gender history and childhood history.