Office of the Provost

The Joy of Learning


By Karen Doss Bowman

For JMU professor Scott Stevens, the passion for learning began when, as a child, he declared that he wanted to be a “professional student.” Whether teaching business students or delivering video lectures for The Great Courses (formerly called The Teaching Company), Stevens is still enthusiastic about sharing knowledge with others.

 “I’m one of those people who loves to learn something and then tell other people about it,” says Stevens, who is known among his students for an energetic, approachable style of teaching. “When delivering lectures, I’m like the kid in the candy shop. For someone who loves to teach, there are few satisfactions as rich as the company of someone who loves to learn.”

A mathematician and physicist, Stevens joined the College of Business faculty in 1985 and teaches in the department of Computer Information Systems and Business Analytics. He also has taught physics and calculus for other schools on campus.

In addition to teaching on JMU’s campus, Stevens has produced two video series for The Great Courses, a company that selects only the top one percent of more than 500,000 college professors worldwide to star in educational videos on a variety of topics. Stevens’ “Games People Play: Game Theory in Life, Business and Beyond,” produced in 2008, is still a popular choice for consumers. His latest course, “Mathematical Decision Making: Predictive Models and Optimization,” produced in 2015, has a 98 percent positive online rating. “At the moment, I know of only 8 of the company’s 576 courses that are more highly rated,” says Stevens, who is married to Kathryn Stevens, director of the Madison Art Collection.

A recipient of JMU’s Carl L. Harter Distinguished Teacher Award, Stevens has received numerous teaching honors, including the Distinguished Teacher for the College of Business and the Kenneth Bartee Award for Innovation in Teaching. He is also a five-time recipient of the Students’ Choice for Outstanding Professor in the College of Business award and was first to receive the honor.

Stevens finds joy in teaching young adults and encourages his students to learn new concepts through association, rather than by memorization. He emphasizes the importance of learning to read research and figuring out “how the pieces fit together.”

“In the world today, lifelong learning is essential,” Stevens says, “I have a hidden agenda in my courses to help students become confident and competent with the content while developing the skills to learn for the rest of their lives.”

Published: Monday, April 25, 2016

Last Updated: Thursday, January 4, 2018

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