Dr. Allison Freed, University of the Ozarks' new assistant professor of education/science education, has a theory on how to prepare students for a career as classroom teachers.
Dr. Allison Freed has joined the University of the Ozarks faculty as assistant professor of education/science education.
"I think pre-service teachers should get out of their cultural comfort zones and experience new things," said Freed, who joined the Ozarks faculty in August. "It’s important for teachers to have a variety of experiences and learn about new cultures by experiencing them first-hand. I think the more students are out of their comfort zones the better they will deal with uncertainty and become more patient and flexible."
A native of Michigan, Freed completed her Ph.D. in educational psychology and educational technology from Michigan State University in August of 2015.
Heeding her own advice, Freed has a myriad of teaching, travel and outdoor experiences to complement her academic background. She has taught school in rural Michigan, London and Chicago, completed a fellowship in Botswana, been a wilderness trip leader in Wyoming, and served as a study abroad program leader in The Netherlands, France and Germany.
"My experiences abroad and in the outdoors have helped me see the world differently," Freed said. "These experiences have given me new perspectives that I bring into the classroom. I feel these experiences have broadened my view of teaching, learning and living a full life."
Freed said her teaching style involves "creating a learning environment where my students feel comfortable to be curious and ask questions."
"Instead of only reading and talking about teaching and culture, I create opportunities for my students to learn by experiencing teaching and culture firsthand. I encourage students to be curious about their world by asking questions and moving outside their comfort zones to find the answers."
Freed’s dissertation at MSU was "The Association of Environmental Identity with Pro-Environmental Behaviors and Decision-Making." It was a mixed methods study that explored the relationship between environmental identity or the extent to which one feels connected to the natural environment with decisions to behave in pro-environmental ways.
"I found one’s physical environment and social relationships influenced the decisions to act in pro-environmental ways more than one’s environmental identity," she said. "Meaning someone did not need to feel connected to the natural environment to decide to act in environmentally friendly ways.
I decided on this topic after researching environmental attitudes literature. I found that environmental identity seemed to be more salient and have more promise in making sense of environmental behavior. I also thought about my own environmental behavior and questioned the thinking that went into my decisions to recycle or walk instead of drive and why even though I identified as a person who cared about the environment, why didn’t I always partake in environmental behaviors."
After spending the last five years on the 50,000-student MSU campus, Freed said she is looking forward to working with students on the small Ozarks campus.
"I’m excited to teach at a small liberal arts university," Freed said. "There are so many opportunities to work with a variety of people from many disciplines. I also have the chance to get to know my students more fully."
Freed earned her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Central Michigan University. She enjoys running, hiking, yoga and travel. She and her husband have a young son, and a dog named Daisy.