Maria Zafonte is an assistant professor of English in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Grand Canyon University. She is currently working toward a PhD in general psychology with an emphasis in instruction and cognition. Her research interests include fostering student engagement in various learning situations, including large face-to-face classes, online and blended modalities.
Faculty Spotlight Questions:
I have worked in education since I was a teaching assistant in my English graduate program, helping students with essays in the Writing Center. Over the years I have tutored at various levels and taught at several colleges and universities in New York and Phoenix. I also worked as a high school guidance counselor for several years. Once I became a mom, I began English courses as an adjunct which, as my children got older, turned into full-time work. GCU has been my home since 2012 and I couldn’t be happier!
I love the people I work with in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. From our dean on down, I am blessed with amazing colleagues who not only excel in their disciplines and are passionate about what they teach, but they are also committed to sharing that knowledge and passion with students.
This might sound counterintuitive coming from a writing teacher, but the best advice I can give is to follow directions. There is plenty of room for creative ideas and critical thinking and while thinking outside the box certainly is warranted at times, when it comes to assignments and projects in your courses, follow the assignment details and the professor’s guidelines. Creativity can still be found within the confines of assignment details. Generally, low essay grades aren’t earned due to writing ability but rather because the student strayed from the assignment or didn’t use correct formatting. By all means be creative and thoughtful, but turn in what the assignment calls for.