Meet the Drake Institute’s new assistant director, David Sovic

David M. Sovic, Ph.D., is assistant director for Research-Related Programs and the coordinator of Instructional Redesign at the Drake Institute. He earned a doctorate from The Ohio State University with a focus on Environmental Toxicology, studying the impacts of natural and synthetic estrogen exposure on reproduction in freshwater mussels.

Sovic has taught undergraduate courses in biology and graduate-level professional development courses on biology teaching and learning. His postdoctoral research has centered on identifying effective approaches for training students in metacognition and other elements of self-regulation, as well as understanding how course learning outcomes can be used by students and instructors, alike, as tools for teaching and learning.

His other research interests include exploring methods to characterize alignment among structural course elements (outcomes, assessments, lessons, etc.) and understanding how such alignments correlate with student achievement and student perceptions of their own learning. David’s primary goals with the Drake Institute are to continuously support faculty, lecturers and other instructors across the university in completing effective instructional redesign and to work with members of the OSU community, from individuals to colleges, to foster the development and implementation of efforts in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and Discipline-Based Education Research.


Why the Drake Institute?

Throughout my time at OSU, I have been incredibly fortunate to have received exceptional guidance, support and professional development in effective approaches to teaching and learning in higher education through my involvement in, and affiliation with, the Center for Life Sciences Education as, first, a graduate teaching associate and, later, a postdoctoral researcher and scholar. Since the Drake Institute’s inception, I have witnessed, in some cases firsthand, the same degree of sincere dedication to supporting the elevation and improvement of instruction across the entire university demonstrated by its members. I share that sincere desire to work to improve instructional excellence and, subsequently, student achievement here at OSU. As a member of the Drake Institute, I feel that I am afforded a unique opportunity to expand my reach and contribute to OSU’s ongoing commitment to ensure that every Buckeye receives a top-quality educational experience that has life-long, positive impact and that exceeds expectation.


What do you hope to accomplish during the autumn semester?

The Drake Institute has numerous, ongoing programs and initiatives about which I am truly excited. During the autumn semester I hope to become rapidly entrenched in a number of these efforts, to establish myself as a valued member of the Drake Institute community, and to improve my own ability to support excellence in teaching and learning at OSU by getting to know, and by learning from, each of my new colleagues.


How do you hope to support faculty in the areas you are charged with?

I firmly believe that everyone involved in teaching and learning here at OSU, regardless of background or level of experience, can bring with them valuable contributions to our shared efforts to support student success. As I have my own knowledge and experiences, I hope to be able to share those with faculty as we collaborative identify and/or work toward potential solutions to problems, whether they appear simple or complex. In some cases, that collaboration may involve sharing and helping faculty to adopt and implement my own creative ideas and solutions grounded in evidenced-based practices. In other – likely more numerous – instances, those ideas will emerge from the faculty themselves, from others with particular knowledge and expertise who are invited to be a part of the discussion, or, more organically, through the contributions of all those involved in the process. 

I also firmly believe that improving instruction is an ongoing and continuous process. In working with faculty, I hope to convey that principle and to encourage the adoption of an approach that is reflective, that is responsive to student needs, and that is focused on exploring, collecting, and evaluating evidence to guide efforts to improve as instructors. Our efforts to provide the highest quality of education to students should be ongoing with no particular or defined end, and I hope to motivate faculty to use evidence, assess their efforts, reflect on outcomes, and make changes if and when they are supported by their findings.


Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I grew up in rural West Virginia and developed a love of nature and an interest in science and discovery. I attribute much of my process-oriented nature to my dad, an engineer, and much of my passion for teaching and learning to my mom, a life-long teacher and administrator in the K-12 setting. Those influences, being a significant part of my own story and experience, have left me with a great desire to study and to better understand how learning works and to assist others in supporting students in their efforts to succeed in higher ed.

I am blessed with an incredible family, including my amazing wife of nearly ten years, Megan, who is the love of my life, my full support, my best friend in the world, and who happens to be a fellow educator. We have, absolutely, the two best kids that we could ever ask for, Julia (5) and Luke (4), who manage to somehow keep us young yet age us rapidly at the same time! We live in Hilliard at what we consider our own little zoo that includes three cats (Abbey, Eureka, and Scarlet), our dog, Barkley, and a small collection of ducks, songbirds, raccoons, and other critters that frequent our backyard. We love to spend our free time hiking, fishing, gardening, cooking/baking, playing games, and, basically, enjoying time together as a family!