BHSU honors student will defend her capstone about improving education

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, December 1, 2015/Categories: 2015

Education and plans about what to learn can be tough for any student of any level. Black Hills State University Honors Program students came up with the idea of how to learn faster and easier.

Megan Hohn, elementary education and early childhood special education major from Parkston, will present her Honors capstone defense "So Much More Than Just A Game: A Complete Summer Program Curriculum For School-Age Children Aligned to Education Standards." Hohn will present during the final Geek Speak lecture of the fall semester, Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. in room 110 of Jonas Hall on the BHSU campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

According to Dr. Courtney Huse Wika, director of University Honors Program and assistant professor of English at BHSU, the Honors capstone defense is a program requirement for all University Honors students. The capstone is the students' opportunity to direct their own research or creative activity. They develop a project and work with a faculty committee over the course of a year to produce an Honors capstone project that is then scored and defended.

"At the defense, students introduce their project, discuss their findings, and argue its significance, and then field questions from the audience. This is usually the culmination of a student's work in the University Honors Program, so it is exciting to see what they have produced," said Huse Wika.

For the last four years, Hohn worked at a summer camp in Belle Fourche where part of her job was to plan a summer curriculum for kids. She discovered that children enjoyed learning through outdoor activities where they could explore and observe nature. In her capstone project, Hohn will show how her summer program can benefit students in the classroom during the schoolyear.

"I based my project on educational theories-constructivism and experimentalism. Kids learn by hands-on activities in nature, asking questions, experimenting and touching things. There are a lot of field trips, outdoor experiences and play time," said Hohn.

According to Hohn, children lack outdoor experience in the current educational system since teachers and kids are all feeling the pressure to learn content for standardized testing so they don't have the time for extra field trips. Hohn was lucky with her summer program to do extra projects where the children dove in and learned without the pressure of having to be tested.

"Instead of sitting down and teaching a half hour lesson about time, when my pupils ask 'Is it snack time?', I say 'I don't know, look at the clock'. We can spend 10 minutes talking about the time just as a spur of the moment thing," said Hohn.

Hohn's research will provide an opportunity for the students, professors and community members to take a closer look how education could be changed and improved

"It would be nice to have people attending to give them information and get people thinking a little bit more about the education side of things which impacts us all," said Hohn.

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