John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

Dr. Monica Varner is the Director of Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness and Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and Associate Professor of Sociology at Arkansas Tech University where she leads assessment, teaching and learning initiatives. Dr. Varner has been involved with service learning pedagogy for the past nine years.  She has extensive experience in course embedded service learning activities, mentoring senior capstone service learning projects, and providing service learning workshops and seminars.  Most recently, she served as a service learning proposal evaluator for the Heartland Conference hosted by Campus Compact Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.  In 2013, Dr. Varner mentored a service learning project which was awarded the National Newman Civic Fellows Award titled, The Development of Life Skills Training: Anticipatory Socialization for at Risk Youth.  Dr. Varner has mentored service learning projects with medical hospitals, youth services and residential facilities, youth academy, hospice programs, equine services and therapeutic riding center, homeless shelters, food pantries, adult day care, domestic violence shelters, and the Ronald McDonald House.  Prior to coming to Arkansas Tech, she provided educational leadership in service learning with The Higher Education Forum of Oklahoma and served as a Leadership Facilitator at the Northeastern Oklahoma High School Leadership Conference.

Dr. Varner has presented on service learning models, evaluation of reflection journals, and building a portfolio of service learning at the National Conference on Learner-Centered Teaching, Campus Compact Heartland Conferences, and most recently Oklahoma State University.  She has authored a Service Learning Manual and has developed service learning rubrics and evaluative tools to assess the quality of student learning.  She has provided assessment and continuous improvement presentations at the Higher Learning Commission Annual Conference, Annual Gateway Course Experience Conference, and National Assessment Institute.  During her first year at Tech she facilitated a collaborative partnership in service learning with the Office of Student Affairs and the Office of Academic Affairs.  The collaborative partnership of service has led to over a thousand hours of service for the local and regional area.  Dr. Varner also serves as a Lead Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Evaluator for On-Site Reaffirmation Committee for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and is presently leading a Course Redesign Academy with five gateway courses.  She provides workshops and consultation in assessment, continuous improvement, teaching and learning strategies, service learning, and civic engagement.