Monday, February 20, 2017
Scott Radcliffe, Associate Professor of Animal Sciences
"I hope the impact I leave on this place will be in teaching and encouraging students to do great things." - J. Scott Radcliffe
Profiles in Teaching focuses each month on an individual whose work reflects Purdue Agriculture's commitment to learning.
About the Professor
Having grown up on a farm in Maryland, Scott Radcliffe, Associate Professor of Animal Sciences, has held agriculture as a passion for most of his life. His family owned goats, chickens, dogs and cats throughout his youth.
In choosing a career path, like many high school students who enjoy working with animals, Radcliffe set out looking for a university strong in animal sciences and intended to become a veterinarian. He completed his undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech, but after working briefly at a vet clinic, he decided veterinary medicine wasn't for him. Instead of pursuing vet school, he entered graduate school at Virginia Tech, earning his master's and doctoral degrees with a focus on animal nutrition.
"I started in swine reproduction research, and then realized nutrition was where my passion really was," Radcliffe said. "From there, I never looked back."
Radcliffe's passion for teaching comes from his students.
"Although my principal appointment at Purdue is research, I hope the impact I leave on this place will be in teaching and encouraging students to do great things," he said.
With that goal in mind, Radcliffe guides and challenges students to take the information he teaches into their own hands and apply it to the bigger picture of the agriculture industry in their own way. To do this, he assigns group projects with a broad range of possible topics.
For instance, one semester he allowed a student group to base its class project on the nutrition of beluga whales.
"I don't need to teach the same thing every year," Radcliffe said. "It's all about what the hot topic is at the time."
Radcliffe's largest class is Applied Animal Nutrition (ANSC 32400), which he has managed and taught for 14 years. ANSC 32400 familiarizes students with principles of animal nutrition and the basics of formulating rations for animals to maintain overall health and steady growth.
Radcliffe incorporates some alternative modes of teaching into the group projects he assigns in the class. Students pick a topic and develop a video that teaches their classmates about it. Groups have total creative freedom on the assignment, and they also must do all the interviewing, filming and editing of the videos on their own.
"Ultimately students have to figure out how to learn on their own, because it challenges them to bring useful information back to the classroom to teach each other," he said. In this way, Radcliffe hopes that rather than learning via lecture, his students will learn the same information while researching for their group projects, and then again as they teach it to their classmates during final presentations.
Radcliffe also serves as adviser for Purdue Block and Bridle, a collegiate livestock club – one of the largest clubs at Purdue – and he recently chaired the Curriculum and Student Relations Committee in the College of Agriculture.
"I hope that somehow my students are inspired —at least one student in each class," he said.
By Tana Simmons and Emma Hopkins
Purdue Agriculture Teaching Profiles are written by students majoring in Agricultural Communication.