Faculty Choice Award Winners Sound Off: Student Engagement with Dr. Ritchie

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Since 2014, the Faculty Choice Awards for online courses has become one of the most anticipated events at the annual FIU Online Conference.

Each year, faculty self-nominate a fully-online course for an award in one of five categories: Student Engagement, Innovative Use of Open Content, Innovative Course Design, Creative Tool Use, and Top Score in Gamification.

In the run-up to FIU Online Con 2018, Insider is catching up with some past winners over the next few weeks. We hope these brief interviews inspire you to submit your own exemplary courses to the 2018 Faculty Choice Awards. Visit the Faculty Choice Awards website to nominate your course today. 

Meet Dr. Rachel Ritchie

Rachel Ritchie, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Psychology
Dr. Rachel Ritchie, Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Psychology

Our first featured winner is Dr. Rachel Ritchie, a professor of Psychology. In 2015, Rachel won the Student Engagement Awards for PSY4931 Senior Seminar on Positive Psychology, as well as for her CLP4314 Psychology of Health & Illness course. Her instructional designers for these courses were Claudia Fernandez and Emmanuel Franco.

How Has the Award Benefited You?

“Being recognized for excellence in teaching across online and hybrid modalities has opened new doors for me. I have been a fellow for the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and have been recently invited to join the faculty at FIU Honors College. I have had the opportunity to share my methods for collaborative online learning with other faculty members by leading workshops and presenting at national conferences.”

What Was Working With Your ID Like?

“When I came in with a vision, Claudia translated it to the online environment. For example, I told Claudia how I managed group contracts in face-to-face classes and she was able to recreate that online.

I also wanted some way of obtaining written accounts of what group experiences were like for each student. Claudia was able to set up a survey using a peer evaluation tool. I was then able to provide students with anonymous feedback.

Together, we also decided wikis would work best for both courses. She showed me several wikis from other classes and agreed to set them up in my own. We also added ‘how-to’ guides that would minimize technical questions.”

Which Course Features Are Your Favorite?

“I am most proud of my students’ group projects and the fact that they seem to truly enjoy their projects. I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the structure and organization of these group projects. Many have thanked me for the group work and expressed gratitude for new friendships they developed.”

Any Advice for Submitters to the Faculty Choice Awards?

“The same advice I have for applying for any award – apply for it! What’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t apply for an award, you won’t receive it. But if you do, there’s a chance you’ll win. By not applying, you’ve already lost the award. I have applied for about a dozen teaching awards and won four.”

What’s The Future Look Like?

“I have shared my course shells for both of my award-winning courses as well as my other Quality Matters certified courses with other instructors so that they can teach the course using my shell. This means that our adjuncts and graduate students teaching the course for the first time have a solid course to start from and our students are enrolled in a well organized, highly collaborative online course.”

Stay Tuned

Keep on the lookout for upcoming Faculty Choice Award winners from years past. In the meantime, nominate your own course today.

Michael A. Martin is an instructional designer and writer for the Continuing and Professional Education team at FIU Online. He is also an adjunct instructor in Writing and Rhetoric at FIU.

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