|Leanna Hall has been teaching English for over 20 years, which she began as a graduate student at Arizona State University. After she earned her masters degree, she continued teaching while completing her doctorate, but became involved extensively in service learning, which is the topic of her dissertation. Service learning involves students serving in the community and tying their experiences to the concepts discussed in the class. Her commitment to serving the community continued on as she accepted a full-time faculty position at Grand Canyon University after completing her doctorate degree. While at GCU, she started a service learning program, and was involved with the development of the Sydney Browning Community Center and scholarships. She eventually moved into administration at GCU, and enjoyed continuing to teach Christian leadership classes, for example, during her four years in administration.
|In the meantime, her family grew to include two young children, Marissa and Michael, and she knew she needed to be home more to raise them, so she resigned her full-time position and began teaching online courses. That was seven years ago, and she still thoroughly enjoys teaching online classes. Her family lives in Mesa, Arizona, and they enjoy biking, hiking, and basketball.
How has facilitating online courses at GCU helped you find your purpose?
I have three main purposes in my life-to serve God, my family and my community-and facilitating online courses provides me the opportunity to address these purposes. I am able to use my calling as a teacher to try to make a difference in my students' lives, especially by helping them achieve their dreams, their calling. I am able to be home for my children when they need me, but also model for them how to work diligently. Finally, I am able to continue to serve my community both through my church life and through my commitment to several causes, especially addressing literacy and developmental education.
What is one effective teaching strategy you use in your online classes?
I am an advocate of making connections as much as possible in my classes, connections among ideas, among students, and between students and myself. Research has repeatedly shown that students who are connected stay in their classes and persist to graduation more often than students who are not. Therefore, I highly encourage students to call me to discuss the assignments or course concepts, and I call students who seem to be struggling with an assignment (such as during the rough draft stage). This tends to help students see relevance in my comments to help them improve, rather than justification for a grade.
What is a GCU online student success story you can share?
Over the past seven years I have encountered many students who have been nervous about taking an online class, especially since they have to learn the course content while also learning how to use the technology. One student in particular stands out: She was a grandmother who had very little experience with computers; therefore, she called me through each step of the process of posting DQs, submitting assignments, etc. The hardest part came when she had to develop a website for one of the assignments. She struggled through it, but eventually developed a wonderful site that she was able to convert into a personal website for her ministry. GCU was able to help this student fulfill her calling.