Archive for November, 2011

Faculty Profile: Stacy Larson

Title at the college:  

Chair, General Education


Juris Doctor, Pace University School of Law

Master of Arts in Psychology, Long Island University

Professional in Human Resources, Human Resources Certification Institute

What she’s teaching this term:

Human Resources Management

Consumer Behavior from a Global Perspective

Oral Communications

Adult Development

Her philosophy on online education:  

Online learning represents a paradigm shift in higher education, generally, but also here at CW.  The traditional college student does not exist in as great numbers as he or she did even 20 years ago.  While an online degree program may be an attractive option for students who have families to raise, full time jobs, or live far from campus, with online education, often the human element is lacking.  CW has always been a student-centered college.  As an online professor, I strive to develop student-centeredness in my courses.  I make a personal investment in every course I teach.  I am active in the development of the course creating assignments, quizzes, and discussions that are engaging for the student by utilizing various sources (i.e. videos, web links) not just an assigned textbook, but beyond that, once the course is running, my goal is student connectedness.  This is achieved through thoughtful discussion threads, emails, and even individual phone calls to students.  Just as they do in face-to-face courses, students in online courses want to be noticed and recognized for their contribution.  When students are acknowledged and recognized, meaningfulness of the course, and ultimately the entire online learning experience, increases.

Where she sees the online division going in the next few years:  

I see the online division increasing in both enrollment and program offerings.  I am creating a proposal for a Paralegal degree program that I would love to see both on campus and online.


More on Success Coaching at CW

A few weeks ago, we spoke with Robert Weston about the role of the Success Coach in online education (LINK), and this week, we have Colleen McCartin, another CW success coach, sharing her thoughts on how students can benefit from success coaching.

Q. How would you describe the role of a success coach at CW?

A success coach is the go-to person for our students at CW.  Particularly for the online students, their success coach is the on-ground person who has the connections on campus to be able to assist the student in troubleshooting and direction.  As a success coach, I check in with my students regularly to talk about any topic ranging from school to family to social life as well as from the positive to the negative.  I like to form a special bond with the student so that they know I can be their cheerleader, confidante, or even just a friendly voice over the phone.

The role of the success coach is really to be a source of insight and direction for the student.  We are usually the first ones to hear if a certain issue or accomplishment as we are most often in contact with them and have gone beyond just topics dealing with academia.  As a success coach, we are then able to guide the student to the correct person or resource.  I believe that the importance of success coaching is to allow the student to feel comfortable as they begin their new quest for education, but continue to keep the ownership and responsibility in the hands of the student.  This way, he or she will feel competent in their abilities and learn to troubleshoot on their own to uncover resolutions the easiest way possible for them.

Q: Do you have a personal story you’d like to share about success coaching?

I discovered through the stress barometer in Campus Toolkits that one of the students was having a difficult week.  I gave her a call and she said her daughter was sick in the hospital.  She was able to talk about the stresses going on in her life and how everything was demanding so much of her attention.  We were able to plan how to move forward by notifying her teachers, asking for tutoring in the future if she gets behind, and letting her know that counseling services are always available.  I could sense her relief at the end of the conversation, as she felt better about school for the moment.  From there, she kept me updated through email and felt more comfortable asking me questions knowing that I was there to guide her in any way.

Q. What do you troubleshoot most often?

Honestly, the thing I troubleshoot most often is the online learning system, Moodle, as well as questions about transfer credits/degree/classes.

Q. What’s a common question you get asked?

The question I get most often is “who can tell me how to (fill in the blank)”.  My students know I may not have the answer, but I love how they still feel comfortable reaching out knowing that I have the connections throughout the campus and can direct them the right way.  They all have very busy schedules as online students and need answers fast with no run around…. that’s definitely where the success coach comes in.

The most unusual question I have been asked so far is “oh wait, my video discussion posts count a lot toward the class?!”

Q: Any last thoughts you wish to share?

In closing, I absolutely live being a success coach.  It allows me to go far beyond the admissions process and find out about who these individuals really as students and people.  I feel happy whenever I can calm a student sown, get then to the right answer, or even just joke around with them a bit.  I think it is incredibly important for our students to have that connection to someone here in campus.  It is a program that helps CW stand out and shows that we genuinely care and it shows.

Faculty Profile: Ruth Best

This week, we’re bringing you a faculty profile of Ruth Best, Academic Dean of Instruction Design & Faculty Development and Assistant Professor of Business Administration & General Education.


ABD, Teacher Leadership – Walden University

MBA. Financial Management – Pace University

MSc. Education – City College

BSc. Business – Concordia College

AOS. Accounting & Business Administration – The College of Westchester

 What she’s teaching this term:

GEN157 Statistics. In addition to teaching, other responsibilities include training, mentoring, and supervising faculty.

Her philosophy on online education:

Online education is an effective means of delivering  instruction virtually; where academically rigorous and accessible learning opportunities are created for a diverse group of learners.

Where she sees the online division going:

Over the next few years, I see CW’s Online Division expanding in terms of  geographic reach and  program offerings.

Success Coaching

At CW, we think success coaching is key to helping students attain their goals and realize their potential.

Robert Weston, an Online Success Coach and Instructional Designer at CW, was kind enough to share some of his thoughts on success coaching and the role of the success coach in today’s educational landscape.

Q: First off, for those who may not be aware, what is a success coach? 

The short answer: An Online Success Coach acts as a sounding board for ideas, a mine of experiences, and a warning bell for when there’s trouble.

The long answer: An Online Success Coach develops relationships with students to help support their academic career at The College of Westchester. I’ve found myself listening to the small complaints, concerns, and suggestions that students may not feel comfortable sharing with their professors. However, it’s these small things that usually indicate larger barriers to their success. By having these conversations with students, and identifying those barriers, I’ve been able to offer advice, and academic strategies to help students do better in their classes. When my advice seems inadequate I contact other student support staff and try to get students the help, and resources they need to succeed.

Q: What do you see as the role and importance of the success coach?

I have a mental model of how I view the sites, and tools online students use. Moodle is the classroom. CampusCruiser is the administration building. Campust ToolKit is the counseling offices. RemoteProctor is the testing center. Online Success Coaches act as the professor you don’t have a class with, but talk to quite a bit in the halls. They don’t grade you, they don’t evaluate your performance, but they’re ready to help you regardless. They may teach you the soft skills a classroom may not address, identify areas you think you have under control, but don’t, or even share their own stories of how hard it was for them to do well in their classes. They’re both role models, and advocates.

Q: Can you share a personal story about a student you have helped or a situation that illustrates what you think the role of a success coach is?

As part of our weekly check-in, a student briefly mentioned how hard it was to keep everything organized. I asked them if they had a calendar, a day planner, or some other time management tool. They said they didn’t. However, I knew they had a Google account for their personal email. So, while on the phone, I helped her navigate to the Google Calendar site. I shared with her that I use the site to organize social events, coordinate trips, and while I was in grad school, dictate my life.

This is one of those cases where a brief conversation, evolved into identifying a barrier, and offering a suggestion that improves a student’s chances of succeeding at The College of Westchester.

Q: What are some of the things you troubleshoot most often?

Most of them are technical in nature, and usually deal with some issue they’re having in Moodle. Most aren’t too bad, but a few do bring up issues that indicate bigger problems. As an Instructional Designer it’s been really helpful having ‘face-to-face’ time with our end users so that I can hear about the issues they’re having, and implement solutions quickly.

Q: What are some common questions you receive?

The majority of the questions I get are academic in nature, ‘Why did I do so bad on this quiz?’, ‘When is my next quiz?’, etc. I refer most of those questions to professors, given that I have no real say in their academic standing.

Q: Any other relevant information you wish to share?

I’ve found that my two roles (Online Success Coach, and Instructional Designer) have been a combination that is greater than its parts. By being an Online Success Coach I get a student perspective of our classes, and where they’re having the most success, and difficulty in each course. In my Instructional Designer role I help construct, build, and support the courses themselves. In each case, I take the information I gather in the other, and apply it directly, helping students do well in their courses, and building better courses for students to take.