Karyn W. Tunks, Ph.D.
Office Hours

UCOM 3108
Varies by semester,
please request an
appointment via email
Ph: (251) 406-0882
Fax: (251) 380-2758
307 University Blvd., S.
Mobile, AL 36688-0002
Karyn W. Tunks, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Leadership and Teacher Education
Children’s and Adolescent Literature, Elementary Language Arts, and Early Childhood Education

B.S., Early Childhood Education, University of South Alabama, 1981
M.Ed., Early Childhood Education, University of South Alabama, 1983
Ph.D., Early Childhood Education, Florida State University, 1988
Teaching Philosophy
“Teaching is about making some kind of dent in the world so that the world is different than it was before you practiced your craft. Knowing clearly what kind of dent you want to make in the world means that you must continually ask yourself the most fundamental evaluative questions of all–What effect am I having on students and on their learning?” (Brookfield, 1990, pp. 18-19)

Brookfield’s (1990) statement on the pedagogical purpose of teaching clearly reflects my own. As a teacher with experience working with learners from four-years-old through adulthood, I believe that teaching is about making a positive difference in the lives of others. As teacher educators, we have the additional responsibility and reward of knowing that our influence has the potential to reach beyond our own students as they become teachers themselves. It has become common practice to ask myself the evaluative question posed by Brookfield, “What effect am I having on students and their learning?” as I continually reflect on my own teaching methods and its impact on students in my classes.

Constructivist learning theory dictates my own approach to teaching and is a dominant theory presented in classes. Students take part in learning activities similar to those that they will be teaching. For example, when learning about the writing process, students take part in a mini-writing workshop in which they personally move through the stages of writing from generating topics to sharing a finished piece with an audience. In doing so, they are “constructing” their own understanding of what it means to be a writer. They also serve as mentors to student-writers and teach the writing process to one or more students. Through these assignments, they understand how to implement writing workshop because they have seen it modeled and been an active participant.

Constructivist learning theory contributes to the philosophy that teaching others how to learn is our ultimate goal as educators. Students of all ages should be equipped to investigate a range of topics using a variety of methods so that learning becomes a continuous and satisfying endeavor. In this era of high stakes testing and documentation of standards, it is important to maintain focus on the authentic meaning of learning.
Scholarly activities represent my interest and expertise in two primary areas: Early Childhood Education and Language and Literacy Development. Research in these areas has culminated into a collection of interrelated scholarly activities including four teacher resource books and hundreds of publications in professional journals and professional presentations. The focus of my scholarly work has been and will continue to be collaboration with colleagues and practitioners for the purpose of disseminating information to the classroom teacher.
Service to the educational community reflects my commitment to the dissemination of information primarily to classroom teachers and others who work on the behalf of children. Throughout my career, this has consisted of making presentations at professional conferences, conducting in-service presentations to teachers in schools, and working informally with teachers in their quest to become more effective in the classroom. In keeping with my current interest of using technology as a primary mode for teaching and learning, I am seeking ways to disseminate information to teachers in a more useful and user-friendly format. This is the motivation for developing web-based materials to inform and motivate teachers that can be accessed quickly online.

Outreach also includes serving on various committees at the University, College, and Departmental levels including the University General Education Assessment Committee (2006-present) and COE Representative to the University Library Committee (2007-2012, Chair 2009-2010). I have also served on the COE Faculty Council and as the Division Representative for the Faculty/Staff Annual Fund Campaign.
Karyn W. Tunks is Professor of Elementary Education at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama. She received her Ph.D. from Florida State University, and M.Ed. and B.S from the University of South Alabama. Dr. Tunks has over 25 years of experience in higher education including faculty positions in the University of Texas system and the University of New Orleans. At USA, she develops and teaches classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the areas of Early Childhood Education, Elementary Language Arts, and Children’s Literature. She has published four teacher resource books on topics related to teaching in the early grades and is the author of two children’s picture books.




EEC 300 - Creating Environment for Learning and Play
RED 334 - Literature for Young Children
RED 352 - Adolescent Literature
EEC 430 - Student Teaching
EDU 467 - Student Teaching Social Studies in Secondary Schools


EEC 532-  Language and Literacy Development in Elementary Schools
EEC 553 - Organizational Patterns and Curriculum in Early Childhood Education
EEC 554 - Language Development in Early Childhood Education
EEC 577 - Literature for the Gifted and High Ability Child
EDM 533 - Curriculum Media for Children
EDM 552 - Curriculum Media for Young Adults
EEC 595 - Internship in Elementary Education
EEC 690 - Special Topics: Survey of Early Childhood Education
EEC 699 - Research Project