By Kate Porter
Course Instructor, General Education
At WGU, each student is assigned a personal faculty member to work with them as a mentor throughout their time at WGU. Additionally, each course has its own Course Instructors, subject-matter experts who are available to help students get through course material. Advice from your faculty members is invaluable as you make your way through your online degree program. But we also want you to benefit from the wisdom of faculty not necessarily assigned to you, so occasionally, The Night Owl features advice from WGU mentors in colleges throughout the university.
As a WGU faculty member, it is my privilege to work with our talented, dedicated students. Seriously, you all are amazing. You juggle families, jobs, chores, and all the challenges of everyday life—and then you throw in school, too! We know that getting your degree isn't easy, but there are lots of great resources here to help you.
January is National Mentoring Month, so as we prepare to celebrate WGU's unique mentor-driven approach to teaching, I'm going to talk in this post about an often-underutilized resource: your Course Instructors.
The Top 7 Myths about Course Instructors
- Contacting a Course Instructor "bothers" us. If you take nothing else away from this post, take this: Working with students is the most-important part of a Course Instructor's job. We love to work with students, and it's never a bother or a nuisance to do so!
- Course Instructors write and grade assessments. At most universities, the professors who teach courses also write and grade assessments. But here at WGU, teaching and assessment are separate. Course Instructors can help you prepare for your assessment, but we do not write, grade, or schedule the tests. We know the content that the course addresses, but not what the questions are on the actual assessment. For performance assessments, Course Instructors can help you interpret task instructions and rubrics or understand evaluator feedback. But we do not evaluate your tasks or evaluate your competency. Learn more about our disaggregated faculty model.
- Course Instructors all have the same work hours. We know that your lives are busy and that school often happens outside of business hours. So, we make an effort to be available at a variety of days and times. Of course, we are human (see myth #7) and, like you, we balance work, life, and, in many cases, school ourselves. So, we may not be available 24/7. But we'll always do our best to find a time to meet with you, so don't be afraid to ask for a time outside of 9-5! Many of us offer hours in the evenings, in the early mornings, or even on weekends.
- You can work with a Course Instructor only if you've failed an assessment. We can definitely help you with task revisions, or work with you on a study plan for an objective assessment retake. But it's even better to work with us right from the beginning. We can help you prepare and reduce the chances that you'll need to make revisions or retake an assessment.
- Working with a Course Instructor on a retake only slows you down in passing your courses. It can sure feel like this sometimes, can't it? We understand that it is frustrating when you want to take your assessment and you aren't able to schedule it. When we ask you to demonstrate your competency before we approve your assessment, it's not because we want to slow you down. It is because we want your next attempt to be your last attempt—we want you to be able to move on to your other courses and, ultimately, to your degree!
- Getting help from a Course Instructor is taking the "easy way" through a course. If you've been at WGU for any length of time, you know that there is no such thing as "the easy way." The best students recognize that making use of all of the available resources—including Course Instructors—is the smartest, fastest, and most-efficient way to competency.
- Course Instructors have fangs and breathe fire. OK, this isn't really a common belief about Course Instructors. But all joking aside, many students are nervous about working with us. We hope you can overcome your nervousness and get in touch with us! Working with students is an important, irreplaceable part of what makes our jobs so rewarding. We are here to help you, and we can't wait to hear from you!