David Sallee has a unique style of testing students.
No paper. No pen. Instead, Sallee tests his students one-on-one.
“In my kinesiology class, for example, I sit down with a student and ask questions about the structure and function of the body. We don’t use pictures or models. They answer questions based on their own body,” the second-year Exercise, Sport and Health Education professor said. “It’s better for them to learn through application. I think it helps them connect to the materials in a richer way that is difficult to accomplish on paper. I can’t make this approach work in every class, but when I can it is magic for me.”
Sallee says most students respond well to his teaching and testing styles. Some, he says, find the idea of taking a one-on-one test with their professor a bit overwhelming at first, but later grow accustomed to the style and test anxiety becomes less of an issue.
“I believe in mastery learning so if they don’t perform well on a test the first time we keep working at it until they master the skill,” Sallee said. “For me the test is just another part of the learning process. It is not uncommon for me to retest students multiple times on the same material. Sometimes we get so focused on testing that we lose sight of our learning goals. My job is to help each student learn; that does not stop on the day of the test.”
Sallee also enjoys helping students find their passion for learning. “The key is helping the students find what they love and what they love learning about,” he said. “If they can find that passion the learning process becomes a natural part of their growth. They forget about the test and begin to make real connections to the content of their discipline.”
The professor also tries to pass along his strong work ethic to his students. Sallee grew up in a large family and began working in a restaurant at age 13. “I have spent much of my adult life working in the service industry,” he said. “Working in that industry was a great experience and was huge in helping me learn to be a teacher.”
Sallee earned a master’s degree in education at RU in 1997 he presented the commencement address for the College of Education and Human Development that year, too after completing his undergraduate work in education at Old Dominion University and before his doctorial work at Virginia Tech.
Though his degrees are in education, the Roanoke native is certified as an athletic trainer, health education specialist, strength and conditioning coach, massage therapist and personal trainer, just to name a few. “I have training and experiences in many areas and that helps me teach and prepare the students because I have done most of the things that they want to do in their careers,” Sallee said.
In addition to preparing RU students for their futures, Sallee works with community groups, helping to research behavior of at-risk youth. And, he recently began serving as president of the Virginia Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (VAHPERD). Sallee was editor of VAHPERD's biannual Virginia Journal for three years.
Sallee says he has always cherished his time at Radford University, both as a student and a faculty member.
“There is such a great group of people here at Radford University, and when I was a student here, I was always treated with great integrity,” he said. “I always wanted to come back and teach here.”