Connection Chronicles: Math Instructor Cindy Roberts on Student Success
By Hannah Burn on 06/19/2019
For math instructor Cindy Roberts of Rasmussen University, teaching is just as much about the coursework as it is about student growth. Roberts has been teaching for the past 20 years. Quality, confidence and guidance are three key principles Roberts lives by and values day in and day out when leading her online courses—including her Statistics course.
Finding the Right Teaching Method
“With any type of math course, your typical student usually comes into the course very nervous. In some instances, they do not want to take the course,” explained Roberts. “They typically try to talk to their advisors, searching for a way to drop the course in Week 1. My goal is to make sure each student enrolled in my course feels valued, encouraged and motivated from start to finish.”
When Roberts was in college, she too knew math was going to be challenging. She felt she was never explained in great detail the logic behind solving problems and what it could be used for. She needed that explanation. And that’s what she brings into her approach as a teacher. By taking the time to explain, she hopes her students feel heard and don’t have to struggle or feel discouraged.
“That has been the biggest part of being a successful professor. I share that story and relate to my students. I tell them I have their back. If we have to talk every day, work through every problem, then that’s what we’re going to do.”
Roberts makes sure all students enrolled in her online courses have a clear understanding of how the course will operate. Transparency, open communication, personalization and little bit of fun are a few of the many ways Roberts connects with her students.
The human touch and personalization to students still matters, even for people who are interested in online learning. In fact, more than half of surveyed students said they want to be able to regularly engage with classmates and instructors with taking online courses.
Roberts’s style was particularly effective for Human Resources student Christina Harmon. Harmon needed to take Statistics to complete her degree program. “I was under the impression that it would be impossible to pass a math class online,” explained Harmon, “and if I did it would be for a grade and not a complete understanding of the course.”
Harmon was certain this course was going to be impossible. Math was not historically one of her strengths. However, as she got more and more into Roberts’s course, she was blown away by her teaching method, care for students and overall approach to teaching.
“Professor Roberts made me feel confident in myself and my ability to succeed from the second I was placed in her course. She would teach sections through mini videos online and would allow students to go back in and re-watch them to fully understand.”
“She even opened up the course chat for all students to communicate. Students would encourage other students to push forward and work through challenges together. I really had the sense of a family atmosphere in her course.”
Harmon was taking 22 credits, working a full-time job and raising 6 kids. Occasionally she would even have her daughter on her lap while participating in Roberts’s class. Her daughter would even get some shout-outs from Roberts during the online video sessions.
Harmon was able to relate what she was learning in the classroom to her job and her day-to-day life experiences.
“I see stats everywhere now, I drive myself crazy. I even talk about it in everyday conversations,” she said.
Harmon had many phone calls, work sessions and one-on-ones with Roberts. She explains how without her she wasn’t sure if she would see the finish line. Roberts would not let Harmon give up. She helped Harmon gain her confidence, grow and understand the course.
“I made sure each week she was aware of how much I appreciated her hard work and determination to not just graduate but to actually find a love for statistics,” Roberts said. “I even mentioned using her experience for future graduate program research”, Roberts stated.
Harmon graduated from Rasmussen with Human Resource Management and Organizational Leadership Bachelor’s degree. She also started her Master’s in HR Management and is pursuing a Doctoral degree in Human Resources.
“I didn’t want to just graduate with a degree,” Harmon explained. “I wanted to learn and be able to apply it to everyday life. I am a better parent, friend and boss because I understand my degree from all aspects and everything that went into it.”
“My degree has bettered my life each and every day and I would have none of that if I would have stayed where I was. The best decision I ever made was coming to Rasmussen University. The professors are so genuine, motivating and transparent.”