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Final grade for WSC instructors:110%

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
Posted by Roxane Molinari

WILLISTON, N.D. - Williston State College has long been proud of the members of its faculty, but evaluations from administration and from students this fall have shown that the college has a right to that pride.

"Williston State has always had excellent faculty," said Wanda Meyer, Vice President for Instruction at WSC. "It was nice to see the change and momentum in how students aren't afraid to step up and say it."

Meyer plans a time to observe each full-time benefitted faculty member as they teach. Some of the things she watches are the dynamics between the instructor and the students, how they interact, how they learn, how and if the students are participating in the class, and how technology is being used and if it is being used appropriately.

When the teacher is done with instruction for that class, she asks for 5 to 10 minutes alone with the students for a confidential visit. "We talk to each other. I tell them I need to know what we can do to make this the best educational experience and learning process that they can get. I ask them to talk to me about their instructor, and then we talk about the campus."

"When I'm done, I give the instructor a report, outlining their strengths, what they could improve on and what we'll look at next time. They made it very difficult for me this year because there's really not much to improve on. Every single teacher would have been nominated for teacher of the year. I did not have any group of students complain about the instruction. To me, that is amazing."

She said there were suggestions for the teachers, but no actual complaints from the students. "There were some complaints on other areas of the college, but none on instruction. They had some comments, such as maybe making tests easier, etc., but there were no complaints."

She credits the instructors at WSC with a willingness to spend extra time with the students. "Every faculty member will take extra time for the students, if they are willing to learn," she said. "The students are saying that they appreciate that the instructors are helping them be the best they can be."

From her own observations, Meyer said that she could see that the instructors are all great presenters, and she realized from talking to the students, that they understand that as well. "A comment I heard was that ‘they know how to get it across to us so that we understand'."

She stated that some of the classes offered at WSC are very difficult. "If you take away the difficulty of the class and talk about the instructor, they all had nothing but praise for the instructors, saying that the instructor is amazing. They realize that it's not the instructor's fault if they don't get it. The students know that the instructors work very hard to get the information across to them."

Two other comments that Meyer heard often from the students were that the students love their instructor and that they make the classroom experience fun.

"Those are very strong statements," Meyer said. "To know that they are working in a very difficult class and to still say that they're having fun, that's really something special."

Her final step is to meet with instructor, giving them her report which will become part of their record. "They are encouraged to take the reports and put them in their professional portfolio," which helps when considering instructors for tenure and/or rank, she said.

She said the instructors like the evaluation system, which she has used twice. "It's a way of using accountability, and by doing it often they know that they're being held accountable, and they're succeeding," Meyer said.