Center for Advancing Teaching Excellence: Courtney Byrd Spotlight

Moody Faculty Spotlight:  Courtney Byrd

Published Fall 2023

What is different about the teaching approaches in the Moody College Blank Center for Stuttering Education and Research in supporting emerging professionals to empower people who stutter to “Dream. Speak. Live.”?

Students are learning directly from the community participants. They actively contribute to content and practice as the course learning path. Often, the experience of having a life changing impact in someone’s life encourages them to stay in the field of practice. They observe and then lead into making a difference. 

A driving force of the student learning is that their life can make a difference. Students have a tangible experience of change and impact. 

As a professor, what is on your mind as you design your courses for the semester to provide authentic learning experiences for your students?  

My courses are immersive and include providing patient care. Fundamental content is directly applied in practice. 

I do not give memory-based tests as my students are placed in clinical scenarios. They record themselves and reflect on the process. The field requires a different approach to address the ethical responsibility as an instructor to build competency to serve clients.

How does your research inform your teaching?

What sets UT apart from other programs is that we are on the front lines, the bleeding edge. People push back on innovative teaching approaches because of the volume of students, but this is what puts us years ahead with data and maintaining progress in treatment approaches. 

We contrast the thinking that has existed in the field with the knowledge being created every day. All faculty are applying what they are doing every day in the lab. We see the work that we have done adding to the body of knowledge. 

We offer scholarships, big ones, because the students are the future of the field. We would not have been able to achieve what we have without the involvement and contributions of the students. 

The significant research findings involve the undergraduate participation in the process. They have an advantage over graduate students because they feel less pressure as they begin to work in the clinical environment. The earlier you get the students into the lab, the more likely they are to enter the graduate pathway with competence and confidence. 

Because there is no measure as to how you can impact someone else’s life, everyone gets into the course. I am not interested in being selective based on measures such as quickness to learn. I am interested in making sure everyone learns and everyone has the opportunity to make a difference.

What do you think students enjoy most about your classes?

They enjoy the difference that they make. They walk away with an experience that has changed others and their own life. That is true for EVERY student because every student is given the opportunity. Because each student in the degree program takes this required course, they all have the experience.

What is one thing you hope your students will remember from your classes as they move into professional practice?

There is so much to learn from perspectives of others. Many people do not listen to people who stutter because it’s so different from what they might be used to hearing. Students in this program learn about the power of the human spirit to overcome challenges. 

There is no better gift than helping another fully live their life. 

Rise up every day to keep talking.