Joanne Weiss came to the field of education well into her adult years after a period of time homeschooling her son through pre-school and the early elementary years. With a Bachelor in Arts in Sociology from Western New England College and using an alternative path to certification, she earned a lifetime elementary teaching credential from the state of New Jersey. She taught junior high students in a number of subject areas, including math, science, Bible, and language arts over 10 years. She taught in two Christian schools: one in New Jersey and one in Arizona.
Working as a full-time teacher, Joanne earned a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix. From that experience, she developed a heart for adult students who juggle family, career, and advanced education degree programs. She developed a complete understanding of how difficult the juggling act can become at times. Still working full-time and wanting to continue a developing career in higher education administration, she earned a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Northcentral University.
Joanne owes her start in higher education administration to Grand Canyon University, where she worked many years in the curriculum development and accreditation areas. She is currently the Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness at Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, California, where she has leadership responsibilities for an institution-wide assessment system.
Joanne is married with one son and a precocious pug. She hails from northern New Jersey and is therefore a Yankees fan, "there are no other options in my household, I'm afraid." She has served her local church in a variety of ways over the years, loves to read murder mysteries and adventure stories, and hiking is one of her favorite ways to unwind.
How has facilitating online courses at GCU helped you find your purpose?
My field is the assessment of student learning. For me, teaching and learning are inextricably entwined. Teaching for GCU permits me to see my students be successful in their own field of choice, learning something new and being able to apply it in the real world immediately.
What is one effective teaching strategy you use in your online classes?
I like to engage my students in deep conversation, drawing out of them experiences and ideas they had no idea were relevant in the current context. It's not unusual for my discussion forums to be several hundred posts long each week. By asking clarifying and qualifying questions, students can then contribute to each other's learning.
What is a GCU online student success story you can share?
Any student who completes a course well and moves on to the next in the program is an online student success story for me. It blesses my heart when students do their very best and grow in their understanding of particular concepts. I love hearing "I've got it" or "That makes more sense to me now!" It's especially gratifying when a student tries something in their own classroom that we've learned in class and returns to our classroom to report on their success.