David McPherson has been teaching both online and ground courses with Grand Canyon University (GCU) since August 2010. He is a native of Phoenix and GCU alumni. His passions lie in both the ministry, where he has served as an associate pastor for over seven years, and in education. David also works full time as a marketing consultant with Salem Communications in the Phoenix Metro area.
How has facilitating online courses at GCU helped you find your purpose?
One of my personal passions lies in education. I am passionate about helping individuals learn about the Bible and prepare for their calling in the ministry. Through facilitating courses with GCU, I have found an outlet to live out my calling to equip future generations of leaders and ministers.
What is one effective teaching strategy you use in your online classes?
I am a pretty big fan of using the Socratic method. Rather than simply asking more questions to challenge students to dig deeper, I look for ways to apply and tailor questions to a student's specific focus or passion. As an example, I like to ask students who are passionate about youth ministry to explain how the particular topic of discussion could be molded into a sermon specifically focused to teens. I further ask the student to differentiate how that sermon would be (both in delivery and content) for a group of senior adults at his or her church. I find that students gain excitement as some of the topics that are traditionally perceived to be boring (like spiritual formation or discipleship) are applied to real ministry scenarios.
What is a GCU online student success story you can share?
A frequent problem I encounter as an online facilitator is plagiarism. Many of the students that enter my classroom do not yet understand the difference between using an idea from a source and copying a source verbatim. I have walked several students through the process of fully understanding how to avoid plagiarism and correctly cite scholarly sources. I recently walked one student through the process. She was actually shocked that I would take the time to allow her to redo essays and help her understand the writing process. When I took the time to talk with her and explain the difference between plagiarism and correctly citing sources, she was incredibly thankful and very responsive. By the end of the course, she was producing decent work and was properly citing and referencing sources.