Susan Dunkle, Ed.D.: "Open, Eager Learning"

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Medaille professor Dr. Kotzin
August 4, 2011 - 9:00am

Ask some researchers, educators and the media and they will tell you students today are lazy, entitled and unmotivated. Susan Dunkle, Ed.D., visiting assistant professor in the School of Education, uses a combination of science, psychology and hospitality to not only excite her students about learning the curriculum, but to inspire them to become better teachers.

Walk into one of Dr. Dunkle’s classes on the first day and she is at the door, greeting her students with a warm handshake and genuine smile. She actively draws them into group discussions and getting-to-know-you exercises in order to build a sense of camaraderie in her classroom and make her students feel comfortable exchanging ideas and insights – "the foundation to open, eager learning," she said.

"I have a wonderful time with my students and love the dynamics of group interaction and cooperative learning," said the 16-year veteran army officer. She earned her doctorate in educational leadership from D’Youville College, and taught in its Education Department and in Canisius College’s Department of Military Science before coming to Medaille in 2006.

According to Dunkle, the key to motivating students at any level is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a theory that once certain physical and psychological criteria are met in a particular order, a person can reach his or her full potential. "I think that you need to honor an individual’s needs for a safe and secure environment in which students feel that their thoughts and contributions are honored and respected," Dunkle offered. "A safe, supportive and welcoming environment combined with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable teacher motivates students to want to learn." She continued, "I work with wonderful students who strive to be knowledgeable, supportive and enthusiastic teachers."

Teaching can be frustrating, gratifying, baffling and fulfilling as a teacher struggles to find that "sweet spot" to pique a student’s interest in learning. "Whether I am teaching graduate or undergraduate, adolescent or elementary [education], I have a wonderful time with my students," she explained. "I find them to be engaged, enthusiastic and willing to both learn and share their own experiences with [myself], and their colleagues."       


I'm grateful for the education I've received.

The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.

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