Melanie McFadyen

Meet the Author: Matt Sanders

Blog Post created by Melanie McFadyen on Apr 4, 2019

Matthew L. Sanders is an Associate Professor of communication studies and an Associate Dean of Humanities and Social Science at Utah State University. He holds a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Matt conducts research in the areas of nonprofit organizations and student empowerment and his work has been published in academic journals in communication, business, and public administration. He is the author of the book Becoming a Learner: Realizing the Opportunity of Education, which is used in First Year Experience programs at several universities.

 

Tell us about one initiative you are currently working on that you are really excited about.

 

I’m working on a project to infuse the idea of becoming an educated person into our general education curriculum so students will hear that important message more times than just their FYE course. I think general education reform is the next step in improve the first year of college.

 

What motivates you to work in college success?

 

College can be a transformative experience. It was for me; I wouldn’t be who I am without it. I want to do what I can to help it be a great experience for all students.

 

What advice would you have given to your younger self as you embarked on your first year in college?

 

To remember that the overall goal is to become an educated person and to worry less about what major I might choose. And I would take more classes that would really challenge me and stretch my abilities.

 

What are some trends and developments you are currently seeing in the college success/First-Year Experience course?

 

There is a trend toward focusing on helping students understand the “why” behind everything. It’s just starting, but people get it. Our textbooks of the future won’t just have a short chapter on it or treat it as self-evident. The premise of our work will be to infuse meaning into how students view college.

 

What did you enjoy the most about writing Becoming a Learner?

 

Writing in my teacher voice. Rather than write as an academic writes to other academics, I was able to write and in a way speak directly to the reader in the same way I do in my classroom. That made the writing exciting and meaningful. And I think that’s why so many students respond well to it.

 

And on a personal note...

 

What book has influenced you the most?

 

Parker Palmer’s book, The Courage to Teach, had a big impact on me as a brand new teacher. It made me realize that teaching is about connection.

 

What is something you want to learn in the next year (related to higher education or otherwise)?

 

I want to learn how to lead change among my peers at my university.  

 

If you hadn't pursued your current career, what do you think you would have done?

 

I would have worked in training and development.

 

What is your ideal vacation?

 

A guided fly fishing trip to Alaska.

 

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people may know.

 

I speak Spanish.

Outcomes