Voices of Experience: Cheryl Green

Photo of Cheryl EvansCheryl Evans Green is an Associate Professor of Social Work. She joined UCF in 1978. Her research interests include multicultural clinical practice, Black women in leadership roles in organizations, and addictions.

1. What teaching methods have you found to be most effective for your students?

I do three different things. I focus on having some kind of experiential learning available to students. I want to take them through something that allows them to experience the reality of the concept. I'll have them read some didactic material and then I'll do a lecturette-I don't even do long lectures anymore-and then they go through a simulation which is more elaborate than a role-play. A second thing I do is ask people from Theatre to come in and simulate actual client vignettes that our students interact with. These actors also stay in character and confront students. The third thing I'm doing is bringing in actual clients.

2. What was your most memorable teaching experience?

I love it when you have a good class and you can feel that you've connected with the students. In one particular class, a couple of the students tied into their own experiences when they had to make critical decisions. Some of them were in tears, and it's kind of a cathartic experience. I also like it when students return years later and recall what you've taught them. They tell me they enjoy that I bring in "real life" experiences and that adds credibility.

3. What single piece of advice would you give to new professors today?

Find people who will give you different kinds of advice. New faculty members need to find out what they need for tenure, and then find a person in their workspace that will help them stay focused on that. And then they can do things in teaching and service that keep their souls alive. What I didn't do initially was link my research with my teaching, and there are ways to do that, such as the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Apart from that, you must have some allies. You need support from people, including emotional support and structural support. It usually takes more than one person to do all that.

4. Why did you become a university professor? What kept you in the profession?

I came here on a nine-month grant to develop some training materials. There was a need to replace someone and they asked me to join as a Visiting Assistant Professor, and later as a tenure-earning Assistant Professor, so I kind of lucked into it. I discovered that I really enjoyed teaching. I come from a family of people who are all teachers, so they were thrilled.

5. What changes have you seen over your career with regard to student learning and how have you adapted to them?

Over the years I've seen the classroom become increasingly more diverse. At first the diversity was in terms of age; the average used to be around 27, and now it's much younger. When teaching, how do you span generations? My daughter has to help me come up with contemporary examples. Now we're also seeing changes in terms of ethnic diversity. I feel I need to learn Spanish and have more of an ethnic perspective. I don't necessarily assume as an African-American woman that I can span even the diversity within African-American populations. Then there's diversity in the desire to learn. There's a large segment of the classroom which does not seem to want to learn. "Give me my degree and leave me alone" seems to be their mantra. It seems like 80% of my time is spent on just 20% of my students. We need to revise our evaluation measures and be willing to not give in to the demands for easy grades.

 

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