Professor of Educational Studies
Exemplifying experiential learning at its finest, Dr. Patricia Hewitt, UT Martin professor of educational studies, combines her passion for teaching and her passion for the environment to create a unique learning experience for UT Martin students.
Hailing from Crawfordsville, Ind., Hewitt knew she wanted to be a teacher from a very young age. After high school, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Indiana University, and completed her education with a master’s in elementary science education from Western Illinois University and doctorate in science education from Indiana University.
Focusing primarily on environmental science, she studied everything from applied ecology to environmental biology to invertebrate paleontology.
Because protecting the environment is so important to Hewitt, she applies her interest to her daily life.
"My husband and I are organic gardeners and farmers, and we raise the majority of our food," Hewitt said adding that on their 56 acres located near Palmersville they "raise everything organically, our meat and vegetables."
To connect her classroom teachings to the environment, Hewitt and her husband, Dr. Mark Hewitt, also a professor of educational studies at UT Martin, host an environmental campout on their land once a year.
The weekend-long campout teaches students to explore and learn about their environment while connecting their experiences to the different applied studies. The event artfully uses experiential learning to encourage students to use and understand the world around them, as well as the resources available to them.
Hewitt's passion for teaching is reflected in her hard work and the guidance she provides to her students.
"[The students] know they can express whatever opinion in class. They know it's a free and open discussion and that they won't be condemned or criticized for what they express in class," she said. "I love teaching at the college level. One of the reasons I came [to UT Martin] was because of the emphasis on teaching."
Hewitt advises students pursuing a degree in education to understand that teaching is not an easy job. So, if the students really want to teach, they will need to work hard.
"They are going to want to do a good job for their students," she said.
Similarly, Hewitt wants to do a good job for her students. When evaluating where she wanted to teach at the college level, she had several options.
She said she chose UT Martin over other colleges because, "None of them had focuses on teaching like this place did.”