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Faculty Highlight: Dr. James Prather

Dr. James Prather, Assistant Professor of Computer Science,  teaches courses on Object-Oriented Programming, Human-Computer Interaction, and Operating Systems. Prather enjoys teaching these classes because he “likes to think about complex topics in computer science”. Known for his humor and wit in the classroom, Prather described his teaching style as “interactive lectures with a side of memes.”

Adam Saxton, senior Computer Science major from Abilene, said that Prather keeps things interesting in the classroom by telling jokes and using funny videos to help students relate course work to real-life situations. Saxton went on to say that Prather’s excitement for educating students in his courses is evident and that, “You know Prather is passionate about a subject when he has very in-depth knowledge about every topic pertaining to that subject.”

Currently, Prather is engaged in some interesting projects. Working with other professors from around the world, Prather is in the process of publishing a research project on metacognition in novice programmers. It is his belief that there is something lacking in introductory programming courses and hopes that the findings can change the way programming is taught. Prather is also writing a paper on his experience working with Faithlife this past summer as he worked to create the user experience for a child check-in system for a church’s children’s ministry. Prather serves as a faculty sponsor for ACU’s SIGCHI local chapter and helps in conducting and analyzing on-going research to measure the effects of encouragement over social media and its reduction on test anxiety. He is also working with the ACU Alumni office on a project regarding the usefulness and effect on the perception of safety for the Lunsford Trail emergency phones. Lastly, Prather is working on a paper regarding digital humanities and the theories of cognition and memory in the Old Testament.

Outside of the classroom, Prather leads a small group chapel that focuses on learning about and practicing spiritual disciplines. He also likes to play video games, like Overwatch, with his students. Dr. Prather loves spending time with his family and is in the process of writing a novel.

When asked what he would say to prospective students, Prather stated, “You are going to get the same education here that you would at a big state school. You will graduate knowing all the same things, but at ACU, you will have detailed interaction with faculty. You will be drawn into spiritual formation with us and led by us. We care about more than just what you know. We care about who you are and what kind of person you are.”