Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2007

Faculty Award winner

Judith Ruland

 College of Nursing


My philosophy of teaching is based on a belief that learning needs to be student centered and that students need to be equal partners in the learning process. My role involves using my expertise to put the necessary resources in the hands of the students or more likely to be sure that my students are well equipped to find and evaluate the resources they need to answer their questions.

Now that the majority of my teaching is in an online forum, I let students know that my role in the online classroom is to be a facilitator, not a provider of information. I create multiple discussion questions to keep the online discussion exciting and stimulating and to address the multiple backgrounds and interests of my adult learners. I provide a good deal of rigor in my undergraduate classes, but am right there to support them as they seek their answers and to encourage them to work together to get the most out of their learning. I always provide detailed descriptions of writing assignments and I provide samples so that they are able to see what a good finished product should look like. My students often wonder at first "where I am" in that I am not actively "running" a discussion. Instead I am carefully reading, correcting errors when I see them, and then working to analyze what the group has said from a meta perspective. I share my analysis with the class as we end each module.

To me the most important skills that I can help an undergraduate student develop are the skills of information fluency: i.e. their ability to write and critically think about the information that is bombarding them as they enter or continue in the nursing profession. Every course I teach is really seen through the lens of information processing skills needed to be effective in use of the best available evidence for practice. I am passionate about the use of writing to teach students to be more aware of their thinking and to be careful and reasoned in their acceptance of new information. If they leave me with a healthy skepticism of information and the skill to use technology to access better evidence, I will have accomplished my goal.