Working for that A-Reality of an Honest College Professor

Dr. Stephanie White By Dr. Stephanie White, 9th Apr 2017 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Those who are online instuctors know how difficult and messy these situations prove. Perhaps, as a seasoned instructor and one that adheres to the strict "rules" of professionalism, online etiquette, and university policy, I provided a protective shield.

Working for that A-Reality of an Honest College Professor

I have been an online instructor for eleven years. In that time, I have had only a few incidents of student harassment and abuse in the virtual classroom. When I think about some of the horror stories shared by peers, in comparison to my cadre of virtual faculty, I would say that I was very fortunate to not have experienced some of their nightmares. Those who are online instructors know how difficult and messy these situations prove. Perhaps, as a seasoned instructor and one that adheres to the strict "rules" of professionalism, online etiquette, and university policy, I provided a protective shield.

I've been called "overzealous and unfair". Yet, what it comes down to was that I was just following university policy and holding students accountable. I was once told that when there are compliments, there are also complaints. It never fails to come as a surprise that those students surrendering such terms, you know, playing the shaming and blaming card, are in fact the ones struggling to pass my courses. Why, some of the students spend more time working to externalize their responsibility when in fact had they put that much time and effort into their work, they may have passed the class.

It was today that I received an evaluation from one student, anonymity protected in the evaluation, professing haughty disdain and an overall disenchantment with my level of instruction and the University system. For what I asked, why, what happened? I recall no recent problems, at least, none that I was made aware of by the student. The problem was more of a covert nature. It was focused on how in a few of my lecture responses to students, my addressing the class as "Gang", was deemed racially offensive and that I was using that term to single out such a student to be part of "gang" activity. In all fairness, I addressed the class as "Gang" because of the mere fact we were a small group of folks interacting. Is this different from using "Friends or Folks"? I think we all have the capacity to modify our instructional style to better suit the students and online environment. That is what makes us better at what we do. But, when someone throws you a hardball that leaves you down, it can be hard to get your balance back from such a hit! To remedy this situation, it takes a lot of time, energy, and a strong defensive nature to protect your sanity and professional face. It can be demoralizing to defend yourself against allegations that are not just "bogus", but libelous, which as a recognized professional and professor, is something I worked hard to prevent.

Where does this leave me? The bottom line is that as an online instructor, I do what is fair, remain neutral, redirect the student, and issue(s) of concern, and most of all, trust in the University system to provide support and guidance. I know that I am not alone in this fight because I have the ability to use my university resources to assist with direction. I have not been disappointed and feel very validated. Perhaps, I could channel this experience as a form of constructive feedback for endeavoring upon developing an instrument designed exclusively for Universities that have an "online" campus. The purpose of this instrument would be to determine which students would be "most" to "least" successful in a virtual environment based on variables.

A few in particular would ask questions on personality development, mood stability, and perception of a past, present, or type of virtual instructor, school, and system using several "mock" scenarios. This would be based on a Likert Scale rating system. Is this a tool for identifying and increasing, or not, the potential online student enrollment ratio? That answer depends on those for or against this instrument and how much monetary gain or loss is involved. What it comes down to is that this would be a tool for delivering protection against those that could be more harmful to our university system, instructors, and professional paths.

Stephanie White, PsyD, PhD, LCSW, DCSW


Academics, College Life, Graduates

Meet the author

author avatar Dr. Stephanie White
Researcher, Academician, Instructor, Psychopathologist,
writes specifically on trauma, psychosocial issues, sociocultural issues, socio-political issues, clinical interventions and behaviors

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author avatar Mindy coen
31st May 2018 (#)

This is a reality for many college instructors that don't give away grades
Great article

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author avatar Ben Bradley
5th Jun 2018 (#)

Well written.

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author avatar Mindy Conley
15th Dec 2018 (#)

Very well written

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author avatar Shiela A
6th Nov 2019 (#)

Smart and well written, I know you write good articles. Hope you are well. Doc.

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