Barely into his master’s in educational psychology, high school teacher Larry Leonhardt sensed the impact his course work was having on his classroom.

“Educational psychology is all about the science of how we learn,” says Leonhardt, who teaches psychology and history at Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Understanding how learning works allowed me to sift through inefficient study techniques and have my students try more evidence-based practices.”

Larry’s bachelor’s work was in world history but when Lawrence North needed someone to teach the overflow of psychology students, he happily volunteered. Today, he teaches all of his school’s psych classes plus advanced placement (AP) history.

Mentor and Advisor to IB Students

He also mentors the school’s international baccalaureate (IB) students who are required to write extended essays their senior year to earn an IB diploma, granted to graduates of a rigorous, college prep curriculum.

Larry says the online delivery of the Ball State master’s in educational psychology gave him practical experience with online platforms to enhance his classroom instruction since Canvas is the platform used by his students.

He also liked the fact that the delivery format “followed pedagogical and cognitive principles consistently.”

Teacher and Coach of Teens

“I have a particular interest in adolescent developmental psychology because I spend a lot of time around teens,” says Larry, who has taught high school for more than 30 years. He’s also coached high school athletes on multiple volleyball teams during the same span of years.

After finishing his master’s in 2018, he began pursuing licensure in gifted and talented education, also through Ball State. Courses such as Socioemotional Needs of Gifted Students and Models and Strategies for Gifted Education also had a positive impact on AP and IB students who typically carry more demanding workloads and can, in his words, become “basket cases” when juggling academic obligations.

To support his psychology teaching in general, Larry is doing online course work for a graduate certificate in Neuropsychology.

Program Has Transformed His Teaching

“I love learning,” says Larry. “I just have a passion for it, and these courses stoke that as well as giving me ideas of how to enhance my own teaching and students’ learning. Sadly, I’m almost out of courses to take.”

Larry credits Ball State’s online programs with providing educators an opportunity to transform their teaching.

“I have pursued all my graduate credit in the last three years online, and really, that was the only practical way for me to do it,” says Larry. “I’d say I’ve changed my teaching more in the past three years than in the previous 30.