Tarleton State University Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. James “Jim” Gentry delivers the third talk in The Last Lecture Series on the Stephenville campus at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15.
The free, public event takes place in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center Auditorium. The auditorium opens at 6 p.m. with music provided by pianist Cade Schmutz. A reception with light refreshments follows Gentry’s talk, “We Are All Learning Together.”
While The Last Lecture is free, tickets are required. Tickets are available at the Fine Arts Center in Room 105A, the Center for Instructional Innovation, the Tarleton Student Government Association office (Thompson Student Center, Room 32), or at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council, 204 River North Blvd.
The Last Lecture tradition invites professors to share what they would say if it were their last opportunity to address colleagues and students. The Last Lecture began in 1955 when UCLA featured six lectures from some of its most distinguished figures, including philosophy professor Abraham Kaplan, chemistry professor Kenneth Trueblood and legendary basketball coach John Wooden. Each shared his life philosophy through the lens of his discipline, interests and personal experiences.
The Last Lecture has become tradition at many universities, gaining popularity in 2007 when Dr. Randy Pausch delivered a talk, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” at Carnegie Mellon University. Pausch’s lecture—and subsequent book, The Last Lecture—became famous as he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with only months to live.
At Tarleton, the Last Lecture Award is the only faculty award selected entirely by students. Beginning in spring 2014, students were invited to nominate an outstanding professor who has inspired and influenced them in their education and outlook.
The student body selected Dr. James “Jim” Kirby in 2015 as the second speaker in the Last Lecture Series after the inaugural Last Lecture at Tarleton was delivered by the late Professor of History and A&M System Regents Professor Dr. Christopher Guthrie. Guthrie was asked by the university’s Faculty Fellows to serve as the first lecturer.
Gentry, associate professor with the College of Education, has conducted research investigating assistive technology’s impact on students with special learning needs. Also, several research projects specifically reviewed the use of multimedia tools to enhance literacy experiences.
Currently, Gentry is working with Keller ISD to evaluate the impact of problem-based learning (PBL) techniques with fourth graders’ literacy learning while using multimedia. He values working with public schools and teachers, and believes partnerships between higher education and K-12 schools remain the salient way to serve our communities and students.
Gentry has published his research in numerous national and international journals. His recent “Professionalization of Teaching in America: Two Case Studies Using Educational Research Experiences to Explore the Perceptions of Preservice Teachers/Researchers,” can be found in the sixth volume of the Administrative Issues Journal.
He has published children’s books and several textbook chapters during his tenure at Tarleton. Currently, he is working on a textbook pertaining to the needs and identity of the professional educator. Gentry has also served as the editor for the Journal for the Effective Schools Project (JESP) since 2006. JESP, a national journal, is published online and in paper form annually.
Gentry has presented his research findings at several professional international and national conferences. Recently, he presented research-based teaching practices on, “Student Engagement: Getting and Keeping Their Attention.” He presented this work with Tarleton State University Faculty Fellow colleagues at the Teaching Professor Conference in Washington D.C. last June.
While at Tarleton, Gentry has received numerous teaching and research scholarship awards, including: Faculty Excellence in Scholarship, the Texas A&M University System Chancellor’s Academy of Teacher Educators, the O.A. Grant Excellence in Teaching Award and the College of Education’s Faculty Excellence in Scholarship Award.
Today, Gentry prepares future educators for 21st century instructional responsibilities. Students experience the important implications of technology tools in several field-based PBL projects. From developing Weebly websites that scaffold pre-service teacher instruction in the field to the use of Google tools and Green Screen technology for collaborative lesson planning, students in his classes apply 21st Century tools to enhance the use of research pedagogic practices.
For more information about the Last Lecture Series at Tarleton, visit https://online.tarleton.edu/fdi/LastLecture/gentry_lastlecture.htm.