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Ole Miss professor shares his ‘A’ game

By Bill Dabney

University of Mississippi

Ken Sufka, professor of psychology and pharmacology at the University of Mississippi, wants students to achieve academic success, so much so that he’s given them a guide that centrally involves bringing their “A” game to every class.

During Sufka’s 25 years-and-counting at Ole Miss, an increasing number of students have sought his counsel on improving their performance on assignments and exams.

“From interviews with students, I discovered a set of bad student habits and poor study skills that hinder academic performance,” Sufka said. “At the same time, I kept up with a growing body of scientific literature on student learning.

“It was interesting to see how well this research dovetailed with many identifiable problems that interfered with mastering coursework.”

His solution? Publish a list of study strategies that would give students a written roadmap to success. Sufka’s book, “The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades” (Nautilus Publishing, 2011) is given to every Ole Miss student at enrollment.

From the book’s increasing royalties, the professor and his wife, Stevi Self, have established the Kenneth Sufka Undergraduate Scholarship in Psychology Endowment.

“I originally wrote this book of study tips to help my students succeed in their coursework,” said Sufka, who was named the Elise M. Hood Outstanding Teacher in 1996. “Now, with the book’s proceeds, we can help fund a scholarship to make college a little more affordable so that students can focus more on their academic success.”

The scholarship is available to full-time junior or senior psychology majors with financial need and who maintain a minimum 3.0 grade-point average.

“I’ve had the privilege of observing Ken’s outstanding teaching and the way he inspires students to be the very best that they can be,” said UM Provost Morris Stocks, who invited Sufka to speak to the Provost Scholars during the program’s first year.

“I saw the reaction our students had to Ken about achieving excellence, and it sparked our interest in making his book available to all our students. When students put into practice Ken’s nine rules, they are empowered and equipped to meet the challenges and rigor of college academic life.”

Self witnessed the book’s transformative effect when a student approached her husband to say that the advice offered in “The A Game” enabled him to be admitted into the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“It was so sweet,” she said. “It took us totally by surprise.”

The Kenneth Sufka Undergraduate Scholarship in Psychology Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., University, MS 38655 or visit http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift.

For information on establishing scholarship endowments, call 662-915-5944.

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