Professors Share New Semester Resolutions

Success can be found in a variety of ways

As we begin a new semester, we look for inspiration and motivation from our Mount Mary University professors. We interviewed three professors about their plans for the new semester. Thank you to Dr. Maureen Leonard, Ph.D., Dr. Joan Braune, Ph.D., and Sara Held, M.S. for their input.

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1. What do you teach?

Leonard: This semester, I am teaching BIO 102 Introduction to ecology and evolution, our second semester first-year course for majors. This course can also be used for core credit in science. I am also teaching BIO 356 Developmental biology, a upper level majors course.

Braune: Philosophy, "the love of wisdom." This semester I'm teaching Search for Meaning, Social and Political Philosophy, and Logic. I'm super excited, because these are my three favorite courses, and Logic is my very favorite.

Held: I teach Mathematics 216: Elementary Statistics.

2. What's your new semester resolution?

Leonard: This semester, I plan on focusing on facilitating students in developing a strong conceptual framework in the introductory course and expanding it in the upper level course so that they can see how everything they learn can connect to everything else. That includes non-scientific information as well.

Braune: Get more sleep! I've been thinking lately about the value of sleep, both personally for my own life and in terms of the forces in society that deprive us of sleep. We do not know if we are really saving time by depriving ourselves of sleep until we can see how much we can accomplish when we're well rested. At the end of the day, we can entrust our uncompleted work to God or nature, and to the next day's efforts. Maybe some students would like to take up this New Year's resolution too.

Held: My new semester resolution is to embody Mount Mary's mission of a creative campus. Statistics is a very "real-world applicable" subject, but conveying that in a manner that is enjoyable and creative is a unique challenge, but an equally unique opportunity. I became interested in statistics because my Professors allowed me to be creative and express data how I envisioned it. This "more than just calculations" approach is something that I hope to pass onto my class. Whether it is using creative thinking to create purposely skewed graphs, thinking outside the box for imaginative examples, or taking part in creative extra credit, my students will have the opportunity to embrace MMU's STEAM focus as well.

3. What's one new thing you're going to try for continued success? (in the classroom, in the office, at home, etc.)

Leonard: We know from several studies that regular review in the form of low-stakes assessments like quizzes or worksheets improves recall of information. I have used these for that purpose in one class and now will use it in both this semester's classes. I hope to also use these assessments to enable formation of those connections mentioned above.

Braune: No matter how busy I get, I am going to read every day in my subfield, Critical Social Thought, even if some days it is just a page or two. I hope to go to London this summer or next for an intensive program in Critical Theory, so I need to hone my skills and be ready to go!

Held: In undergrad, I had a professor who allowed us to submit anonymous feedback in the form of note cards after each test. His thinking was that the usual end of semester feedback would help future courses, but what about the changes we felt should be made now? Whether it was how the lecture matched up with our exams, how the Powerpoints flowed, or just general questions, we had monthly opportunities to express our opinions. I intend to use the same feedback process in my course. This will give the students more chances to feel heard and see changes while they will still be directly impacted by them. My hope is that this will lead to less end of semester panicking and a greater sense of community and cooperation in the classroom.