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K-State's 2024-2025 Coffman chair to explore effects of AI on education, develop resources for educators

Monday, May 6, 2024



MANHATTAN — As Kansas State University's 2024-2025 Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, Aleksan "Alex" Shanoyan will explore the effects of generative AI on undergraduate instruction and develop resources to support educators as they address the new technology in their classrooms.

Shanoyan is an associate professor in the K-State College of Agriculture's department of agricultural economics. According to nominators, he is an innovative and dedicated teacher with an exceptional enthusiasm for engaging students and enhancing learning experiences in and out of the classroom.

The Coffman chair was created in 1995 to highlight K-State's commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning. Each chair is an acknowledged leading teaching scholar and is provided the time and resources to conduct a research project or develop programs to improve educational methods at the university. Recipients retain the title of teaching scholar throughout their career at K-State.

"Alex's impact on the learning and motivation of hundreds of students, his contribution to the scholarship of teaching and the accomplishments of his openhearted involvement in extracurricular activities clearly illustrate that, by every measure, he is an outstanding teacher with sincere dedication to student success," said Allen Featherstone, department head and university distinguished professor of agricultural economics.

Shanoyan currently teaches an introductory food and agribusiness management course, a capstone agribusiness management strategies course and two graduate-level courses. In addition to teaching, he conducts research in agribusiness economics and management, supervises undergraduate research, conducts research on teaching and learning, works to improve course curricula, and mentors peers and students.

During his time as Coffman chair, Shanoyan will establish a platform to increase understanding of the effects that the advancements in generative AI and pre-trained transformers can have on undergraduate instruction at K-State and beyond. He will also develop resources for assisting new and experienced teachers at K-State in their efforts to leverage the opportunities and mitigate the challenges arising from the generative AI platforms, such as ChatGPT.

According to Shanoyan, many questions remain about the differential impact of these technologies across various disciplines, curricula, courses, learning activities and assessment mechanisms.

"This calls for a concerted effort by teaching and learning scholars to first understand the main opportunities, challenges and ethical implications of generative AI applications in higher education and then to develop and continually upgrade a toolbox of best practices for harnessing the positive potential and mitigating the negative impact of generative AI applications in higher education," Shanoyan said.

Shanoyan said his project will take place in three stages:

• Map out the positive and negative impacts of ChatGPT across various programs, curricula and courses at K-State.

• Identify pedagogical strategies and techniques that K-State faculty are currently using to harness the potential or mitigate the risk of ChatGPT on student learning outcomes.

• Compile a toolbox of best practices used by educators in higher education nationally and globally aimed at leveraging the opportunities and mitigating the challenges of generative AI application in higher education.

Shanoyan said core components of his teaching philosophy emphasize the importance of human connection in the classroom, the sincere dedication to student success, and the significance of student motivation and engagement to create a fertile learning experience.

"Undergraduate instruction is one of the core aspects of Kansas State University's mission and plays a key role in fostering a vibrant student-centered university community," Shanoyan said. "I strongly believe that the competitiveness in the job market and the career achievements of our graduates, the impact of our alumni around the world, the global reputation of our programs, the quality of our graduate students, and the enthusiasm of new freshmen joining the K-State family can all be traced back to the quality and the impact of our undergraduate instruction."

Shanoyan's national accolades include the Excellence in College and University Teaching in Food and Agricultural Sciences Regional Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Distinguished Teaching Award: Less Than Ten Years' Experience from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award under ten years of experience from the Western Agricultural Economics Association, and the Gold Quill Award for Outstanding Article from the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.

He has served on national and international organizations, including as chair of the Agribusiness Economics and Management Section of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and on the board of trustees for the International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education.

On campus, Shanoyan has served on the Undergraduate Program Committee for the department of agricultural economics and co-advised the Agricultural Economics/Agribusiness Club since 2012. He has advised agricultural economics graduate student case competition teams at international symposiums and annual meetings, and he's served as a mentor for several programs, including the K-State Center for Risk Management Education and Research and the K-State Research and Extension Summer Research Fellowship program.

Shanoyan earned a doctorate in agricultural, food and resource economics from Michigan State University, a master's in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a bachelor's degree in economics and accounting from Armenian Agricultural Academy.

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Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars


Aleksan Shanoyan

Aleksan Shanoyan, associate professor of agricultural economics, is K-State's newest Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars. As the Coffman chair, he will explore the effects of generative AI on education and develop resources for educators. | Download this photo.

Written by

Malorie Sougéy