Coy Callison, Ph.D., professor & associate dean of graduate studies, was recently announced as an Integrated Scholar for 2022 by the Office of the Provost. Integrated Scholars combine their research, service, and teaching into a synergetic device for the benefit of their students, colleagues, and institution.
For Callison, water scarcity and water conversation occupy most of his research agenda. Whether he is sorting data from a recent study or having a conversation with West Texas Farmer, Callison brings his practical experiences into the classroom and allows his students to observe the practical implications of their lectures.
“I just think it's a much better way to learn,” Callison said. “I like to call it a build-the-birdbox-classroom. Let's get some lumber and put the thing together, rather than me showing you a diagram of how you put the thing together.”
Although Callison did not make a conscious choice to teach in his “birdbox” method, he says it is something that happens naturally.
“It just makes sense, right? I'm not only a teacher. I run studies. I gather data and talk to people in relevant fields and industries. Well, if my job is to educate students, why wouldn't I show them numbers from the dataset I just finished last week? Why wouldn't I let them explore and discuss those things?”
Callison attributes his method of integration to his experience as a faculty member, noting it can be difficult to create cohesion between responsibilities in the early tenure years. The award was both a surprise and compliment to Callison.
“It's nice to be recognized as someone who is doing [integration] well,” Callison said. “I think the students appreciate a little bit of real-world in the classroom.”
Callison's research areas focus on source-message factors and their interaction with cognitive tendencies, as well as saliency factors underlying the attentiveness of individual audience members. Most recently, he investigates strategic communication in science with a focus on extreme weather and water scarcity.