Teaching is challenging, but the right approach can open a mind and unlock great opportunities.
CSU professor Heather Ferragut’s use of encouragement, empathy and accessibility in her teaching approach has allowed her to do just that. In fact, her approach is perhaps why she recently received the 2015 Robert G. Mayes Sr. Distinguished Faculty of the Year Award.
“I nominated Heather Ferragut for the award because I was seeing end-of-course survey comments from students that were praising her teaching in both feedback to students and caring attitude toward students, “ said General Studies program director, Evelyn Knowles.
“I also found that she was very active in trying to improve the sociology courses and make the instructions clearer for students,” she added.
Ferragut humbly replied to the news, “I feel extremely honored to have received such a prestigious award. Columbia Southern University has so many dedicated and talented professors so I was surprised and excited to have received the Robert G. Mayes Sr. Distinguished Faculty of the Year Award. It inspires me to work even harder for the success of my students.”
Her students are very appreciative of her current efforts as indicated by this student’s survey comment,
“My professor was very aware, concerned, understanding and involved in her student’s academic achievement. She asked questions and challenged our understanding of the material presented.”
Ferragut added that she is excited about being part of students’ educational journey. “I truly believe getting a degree is life changing. I enjoy watching students grow in their knowledge of society and culture. I really love hearing from students how they plan to apply it in their personal and professional lives.”
When asked about tips she would offer to students for online learning success, Ferragut suggested:
- Reach out to your academic advisor or instructor if you are struggling in a course. It is not a sign of weakness or failure to reach out; it is a sign that you care about your studies.
- Carefully review the course syllabus, course announcements and instructor feedback. This will help you understand the course expectations and be successful in the course.
- Create strategies and goals that work for you to stay motivated to stay engaged in your courses.
Ferragut has a bachelor’s degree from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Penn., a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Regis University in Denver and a master’s in sociology from Sam Houston State University in Houston.
When she is not teaching, Ferragut enjoys “playing tennis with my friends, hiking, traveling and hanging out with my husband and twin teenage sons.” She added that she likes volunteering with the University of Tennessee Arboretum Society. “My dream is to purchase a farm and more fully explore sustainable farming and living.”