An Ag teacher at Lakeview High School since 2003, Eric Smith recently went back to school, graduating from Louisiana State University’s College of Human Science and Education with a PhD in Human Resource Education.
The driving force to get his Ph.D has always been his family: wife Kathy and children Kinley and Connor. Eric took coursework for six yeas before he stopped teaching to write his dissertation.
“I remember being logged in to a live compressed video listening to a lecture while feeding my daughter a bottle when she was a baby,” he said. “Now she’s five. I did it for them. I’ve always been family minded than career minded.”
Eric wrote his dissertation studying 265 Louisiana agricultural students, measuring the effects of learning with smartphones compared to learning with books.
In the population involved in his study there was no statistically significant difference in achievement between either group.
Sixty-nine percent of American schools still ban students from using smartphones in class and Eric’s study supported that a similar percentage of schools with agricultural education programs in Louisiana ban phones for learning. Most importantly, his study suggested that smartphones did not diminish learning and are a valuable tool in student centered education.
“Attaining the PhD has more to do with persistence than intelligence,” said Eric. “It was a difficult process to completely design an experimental study and complete the writing process. LSU is a wonderful place to go to graduate school but nobody really helps you do the hard work. They just give suggestions and lots of critique. I think my work ethic and stubbornness got me through all of the revisions and ultimately the defense. More than anything the experience of finishing the dissertation process humbled me. I look at everything we’re doing in education differently now.”
Eric is a proud product of the Natchitoches Parish Public School System, and of TOPS. He graduated from Northwestern State University with a bachelors in Industrial Technology in 2001 before receiving a masters from Louisiana Tech in 2006 in Agricultural Education.
“NSU holds a special place in my heart,” he said. “I was given a full scholarship thanks to the leadership there at the time and the help of a recruiter named Chris Maggio.”
Eric is thankful for all of his teachers, coaches and principals that helped him as a student and the Natchitoches Parish School Board for always supporting him as an FFA advisor for 14 years.