National Teaching Award Recipient Eric Jones Wants Otterbein Students to “Learn by Doing” 

Posted May 06, 2022

Otterbein Associate Professor of Communication Eric Jones recently received the Exemplary Teaching Award, a national honor by the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education.   

Teaching Award Winners 2022

His work at Otterbein to create an inclusive, equitable, and understanding learning environment has been impactful beyond measure. His colleagues note that he “teaches, mentors and influences in a quiet, unassuming manner that generates the trust and respect of each and every student with whom he works.” 

Outside the classroom, Jones has offered his time and expertise to Otterbein’s Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) Campus Center.  He has mentored undergraduate TRHT Fellows as they collect and record oral histories from Otterbein alumni of color, a project at the center of TRHT’s efforts to create narrative change and reckon honestly with the past. His equity work extends to the central Ohio community, for which he received the Simba Mentor of the Year for his community service work from Franklin County Children Services. 

We talked to Jones about his approach to teaching.  

How would you describe your teaching style? 

Eric Jones: I take a very hands-on approach to teaching. I like to let students “learn by doing.”  This puts them at the center of the learning process. The more practice they get, the more confident and competent they become. I use this approach in my radio production class.     

What inspires you to teach? 

Jones: My students are my inspiration. Getting an education can be a very transformative experience for them. As college students, they come in barely knowing anything. Many of them leave years later with a strong sense of confidence and optimism about starting their career. Being a part of that process for them is a big reason why I enjoy teaching.  

What do you hope your students take from your classes? 

Jones: I hope my students gain enough confidence to use their knowledge and skills to solve real world problems. When they reach that level of capability, they truly become marketable professionals in their jobs.    

Why are you passionate about the subjects you teach? 

Jones: I’m passionate about teaching media because it is challenging. There are lots of changes happening. There are so many moving parts in the media industry right now, that it requires staying on top of all of the new trends. Things are constantly changing in media business, media technology, and media audiences.    

What is your favorite class to teach? 

Jones: I like all of the classes that I teach. If I had to choose one, it would be the Sports, Culture, and Communication class. Teaching classes about sports gives me a way to challenge the students to go beyond their competitiveness as athletes and fans. I get to encourage them to connect sports to broader societal issues. Hopefully I can get them to develop a more mature sports identity that requires them to adopt a global perspective.   

What do you think students get from Otterbein faculty that they can’t get anywhere else? 

Jones: Faculty at Otterbein can take advantage of the central Ohio job market. For students in the Communication Department, that means having access to internships and opportunities that can be very beneficial for their career paths.  

What is one lesson you want students to carry with them not related to the subject matter? 

Jones: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The main difference between an expert and a novice is the expert has made more mistakes. Those mistakes became insightful lessons. Those lessons became valuable experiences.