In a recent zoom interview, English Professor Dr. Jennifer Niester-Mika speaks with Humanities Learning Center Director and History Professor Amy French about how she engages her composition students in experiential learning in an online environment. Dr. Niester-Mika explained how she focuses each level of composition course (ENG111 and ENG112) in experiential learning that helps students “improve their lives” in ways that are “meaningful, relevant, and pertinent.”
Dr. Niester-Mika has her students select a habit they want to change, then each creates a 30-Day Life Challenge to implement this personal change. “I wanted students to experience this win, this sense of self-efficacy, this ability to control one’s behaviors or their environments, or to address what would be a negative mindset that they came into college with, like, ‘I’m a bad test taker.’ That’s something they believe about themselves, and if they continue to believe that about themselves, that’s going to hinder their academic performance.”
As a result of this approach, Dr. Niester-Mika opened whole new communication pathways with her students and found higher success rates: “less students were dropping, they were finishing with higher grades.” Dr. Niester-Mika assessed these findings with data research to find that this theme-based approach had a powerful and positive impact on her student personal as well academic success.
Click here to view the full Humanities Learning Center YouTube Interview Video.