VALDOSTA, Georgia — Valdosta State University’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta believes that the best teachers are the ones who are unrelenting in their desire to obtain new knowledge and skills. A lifelong commitment to learning is essential to what he does every day.
“I strive to continually be on the forefront of innovative teaching ideas and technology so I can adapt to the rapidly changing higher education environment,” said the professor of accounting. “Improving my teaching methods to enhance student learning is a primary focus.”
Gupta was recently selected for the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program, an annual initiative that provides higher education faculty members from accredited public and private colleges and universities across Georgia with expanded opportunities for developing important teaching skills. It was established in 1995 by former Georgia Governor Zell Miller.
Throughout the 2022-2023 academic year, Gupta will attend six three-day symposia that include a combination of structured instructional and faculty development activities, as well as self-directed activities designed to meet his individual needs. He plans to share his fellowship experience across VSU by serving as a resource for faculty as a Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) expert, online/hybrid teaching mentor, and Faculty Learning Community facilitator.
Gupta said the global health crisis known as COVID-19 has changed the learning environment dramatically over the past two-plus years. He hopes the Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program will give him the opportunity to engage with his peers from other universities and gain an understanding of new and unique teaching strategies that have worked for them in their disciplines.
Gupta is partnering with a colleague from VSU’s Department of Management and Marketing to develop a questionnaire and student focus groups to gain a better understanding of which teaching methods Valdosta State students find most effective. He said the results of this work “will help faculty across campus to better tailor their courses and teaching strategies to meet different student learning styles in this challenging environment.”
Gupta also plans to use his fellowship experience to redesign a course he teaches frequently — ACCT 3400: Cost Accounting. He said the course is required for all accounting majors. Plus, it is a popular elective for non-majors because of its relevancy and applicability to multiple aspects of the business world.
“I have found some very consistent patterns with regards to topics that students tend to struggle with,” he said. “Unfortunately, most of these difficult topics are key to student understanding of the big picture role of managerial accounting.”
Gupta joined VSU’s Department of Accounting as an assistant professor in Fall 1997, eventually earning full professor status. From 2014 to 2021, he served as associate dean for the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration. He returned to full-time faculty status in Fall 2021. He teaches undergraduate and graduate classes, both online and in person. He prefers face-to-face classes “because of the greater engagement with students.”
“I believe I am making a positive difference in my students’ lives,” he shared.
“My teaching is centered round the principle that the instructor and students are partners in the learning process,” he added. “The instructor’s role is to stimulate and challenge students to reach their potential and instill in them a desire for lifelong learning. The student’s role is to be prepared to participate actively in the learning process and demonstrate intellectual curiosity.”
Outside the classroom, Gupta serves as the faculty advisor for VSU’s student chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), a role he has held since the chapter was established in 2008. He has been fortunate to receive financial support from the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration to take students to the IMA Student Leadership Conference for the past 12 years and give students the opportunity to jumpstart their careers and connect with industry leaders.
Gupta is a three-time recipient of VSU’s Summer Stipend Program, a grant that allowed him to study the “Implementation of Technology in Academic Courses.” In a little more than a decade his research has resulted in the publication of 14 accounting education articles and 19 presentations at professional meetings.
“My favorite research topics are applied in nature since I believe research findings should be beneficial to a large audience,” he continued. “Currently, I am involved in research that examines the unfunded liabilities of educator pension plans in Georgia and examines the variables that drive the propensity of an employee to make supplemental contributions to their retirement plans.”
Gupta is one of 12 higher education faculty members from across Georgia participating in this year’s Governor’s Teaching Fellows Program. Each was selected based on their teaching experience, their interest in continuing instructional and professional development, their ability to make a positive impact on their own campus, and their home institution’s commitment to support them throughout the process.
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