Prescott Named UM's Top Online Instructor of the Year

School of Pharmacy's Hayley Prescott wins Paragon Award

A woman squats on a trail in a jungle.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi's Office of Academic Outreach has named Hayley Prescott, a faculty member in the School of Pharmacy as this year's winner of the Paragon Award for Excellence in Distance Teaching.

Prescott's first online course, Pharmacognosy 541: Nature's Pharmacy, served as a pilot class for the school's new online master's degree program in dietary supplements and medical cannabis. In the course, Prescott shares her knowledge of the medicinal qualities of botanicals while providing academic information in a manner accessible to all students.

"I prefer to enable students' ability to envision and implement in the outside world what is taught in my classroom, over just memorizing the material," Prescott said. "I want students to have fun while they are learning the material and see how it touches aspects of their lives they may have previously overlooked."

Hayley Prescott

Prescott joined the school's Department of BioMolecular Sciences as an instructional assistant professor in spring 2023, bringing her expertise in botanical medicine and dietary supplements. She earned a bachelor's degree in herbal sciences from Bastyr University and a doctorate in pharmacognosy from Ole Miss.

"My teaching philosophy stems from my passion around the subject matter," she said. "I feel an immense responsibility to address and correct an abundance of misinformation so that future generations can be educated and informed in their decisions."

Each year, the faculty and staff in the Office of Academic Outreach, home of Ole Miss Online, recognize a faculty member who stood out for applying creative uses of educational technologies in their online classrooms while maintaining quality and engagement.

Wan Petchroon, a UM instructional design and training specialist with Ole Miss Online, said this year's Paragon Award committee was especially impressed with how Prescott approached the course from the student's perspective.

"She made a real effort to think about the student as she was creating this course," Petchroon said. "This stood out because it displayed online teaching best practices like ease of navigation, thoughtful and meaningful on-screen interactions, chunking lessons into smaller parts, cueing and signaling to keep the attention of students, as well as using conversational-style direction to guide students."

Prescott worked to make the course engaging by having students use what they were learning in "real-world" situations such as dissecting a dietary supplement label from home and photographing leaf margins in nature. Her goal is to make the subject matter accessible in an online environment that feels current and welcoming.

"I found that breaking down modules into mini-lessons prevents learning fatigue and helps students be able to digest material," Prescott said. "I also put time and effort into the design of each learning module and made sure they included high quality visuals, elegant design, clear structure and easy navigation."


Pam Starling



June 07, 2024