Brenda Bertrand and Beth Barstow with Provost's AwardsBrenda Bertrand and Beth Barstow
with Provost's Awards
The Provost’s Awards for Transformative Online Courses honored two UAB professors this year – both are School of Health Professions’ faculty members. The recipients are Beth Barstow, Ph.D., OTR/L, SCLV, FAOTA, associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, and Brenda Bertrand, Ph.D., RDN, professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences.

Each was chosen unanimously by the Awards Selection Committee. Barstow was honored for the course titled “OT 679 | Foundations in Low Vision II.” Bertrand was honored for the course titled “NTR 601 | Advanced Medical Nutrition.”

“Quality Matters has changed the way that I develop and deliver online courses and I am honored to have my work recognized,” said Barstow, who received Quality Matters certification for her OT 679 course in 2016.

“It is very exciting to be a recipient of this award and I appreciate the Provost’s commitment to support and reward innovative teaching strategies in online education,” said Bertrand, who also won a QEP innovative Teaching Grant for NTR 601 and serves as program director of the UAB Master of Science in Nutrition Sciences programs. “I am also thankful to the SHP Instructional Support Services team for working with me on the redesign of this course.”

Barstow BethBeth Barstow, Ph.D., OTR/L, SCLV, FAOTA“OT 679 | Foundations in Low Vision II”


In the OT 679 course, students learn to use information from client evaluations to design appropriate interventions that will improve occupational performance. Barstow overcomes the challenge of explaining optics and optical devices, visual skills training, assistive technology and computer modification to her students online by focusing on innovative strategies for student engagement such as structured chat sessions with topic experts and developing a community of learning through structured group topic discussions and connection to program alumni.

Barstow is no stranger to online education. In 2004, she played a critical role in developing the UAB Graduate Certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation program. Today, this program is the preeminent low vision rehabilitation program in the world with UAB LVR alumni making up more than half of the occupational therapists with the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Specialty Certification in Low Vision (SCLV).

Bertrand BrendaBrenda Bertrand, Ph.D., RDN“NTR 601 | Advanced Medical Nutrition”


NTR 601 covers nutrition’s role in treatment of disease. As a course, the goal is to create an authentic online community of learning where students exercise critical thinking while working in a team environment. Students take ownership of their learning as they work in teams to first explore the gaps in their knowledge about a chosen medical condition. They then consult with an expert in the field and interpret recent research to fill in their knowledge gaps and plan appropriate nutrition interventions. Their work was showcased through team electronic portfolioss, which were used to teach their classmates about their learning journey.

Bertrand, who has more than 15 years’ experience teaching face-to-face as well as online, received training in the case-based method of teaching from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science and uses this method when teaching face-to-face and online. In addition to this honor, Bertrand has received Excellence in Teaching awards at the college and state levels.

For their win, Barstow and Bertrand will each receive a cash prize and an engraved crystal flame at an awards ceremony in September. They will also present their winning course at a “Lunch and Learn” hosted by UAB eLearning and Professional Studies November 1, 2017, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in Room CTL 243.

The Provost’s Awards for Transformative Online Courses debuted in 2016 when they awarded three people including another School of Health Professions faculty member. Eta Berner, Ed.D., professor in the Department of Health Services Administration, was awarded for her course titled “HI 640 | Introduction to Health Information Systems.”

The Provost’s Awards go to online courses “that exemplify best practices and innovation in online education.” The program defines "transformative" courses as those that embrace innovative teaching strategies to enhance the student experience and they honor faculty that use interactive learning to maximize student engagement and outcomes.