Corneliusen adapts to help students

By Michael Linnell
University Communications Director

MINOT, N.D. – Adaptation is at the heart of social work.

Minot State Associate Professor of Social Work Lacey Corneliusen believes the adjustments in teaching and learning being made due to the COVID-19 pandemic lend themselves to the discipline.

“I think the social work comes from a place of this is something we can't control, but we can control how we adapt and our thoughts around it,” she said. “It's a been a great learning experience. I think my students may get tired of hearing me discuss the concept of connection in class, but many assignments utilize a group approach and we discuss a lot so we’ve had to adapt some assignments.

“Instead of changing the whole process, I allowed the students to give me feedback on how we can continue our projects. We are still completing our projects, just with a creative twist. As social workers, critical thinking skills are important, and this is a perfect way to incorporate it.”

Giving students a platform to communicate problems and successes within the remote, online platform helped students feel they had control in the process and mitigated some of the stress of changing mid-semester.

“I feel the mental health of the students is a top priority,” Corneliusen said. “If a student is not doing well emotionally, they will not retain any information. We can prevent problems if we show compassion.”

That approach has resonated with her students. Junior Gelly Ann Ringor and sophomore Hannah Heisler both appreciate how Corneliusen communicated with students from the beginning.

“We all know that online classes can be hard for many students, but Lacey has always been there for all of us and she always makes sure that we are understanding what needs to be done with our assignments and projects,” Ringor, who is learning remotely from her home in Molokai, Hawaii, said. “She emails us, keeping us up to date, and we are able to email her and she great at responding right away. Out of my three years at Minot State University and having to work with many professors, I have noticed that Lacey is different. She is different in a good way. She understands me and her students.”

“Before all of this has started, Lacey has always been an excellent professor and mentor. Giving us real examples to work with rather than book examples really puts things in a perspective since we are unable to go out and practice,” added Heisler, a Minot native. “Now that we are all online, she has everything lined out week by week listing what the assignments and reading are. She sent this out pretty early allowing us to plan and adjust things within our personal schedules to fit everything in. Through all this chaos, she has still managed to check in with us to make sure we are all okay, not just academically but physically and emotionally. Before and during all of this Lacey has continued to find the perfect balance of mentor, friend, and professor!”

Corneliusen credits her time working on doctorate courses, many which are online through a Blackboard platform, as giving her a perspective from a student’s standpoint. She also feels a willingness to help from multiple individuals at Minot State has eased the transition.

“One of the things that I love so much about MSU is the willingness to help out. During my first semester of teaching, I spent a lot of time with both Sherie (online instructional designer Sherie Saltveit) and Doug (instructional design OIT Doug Tiedman), both of which who deserve a huge shout out,” Corneliusen said. “They are incredible individuals. Doug showed me how to input tests and quizzes and I took part in a lot of the tutorials in regard to online learning that Doug and Sherie offered during the first couple of months of the fall semester.”

She also credits the social work department.

“My department is extremely supportive. Becky (Daigneault), the other social work professor, designed a fully online course for one of my classes,” she said. “I was running that class face to face this semester; however, it was very easy to go into an online version with that class since she set it up so beautifully for me.”

Outside of individual coursework, Corneliusen has stressed not overwhelming students and has tried to keep that mindset in her own personal life.

“It's definitely been interesting with my husband (Blake) and working from home with our kiddo. We make it work the best we can,” she said. “I know many of my students are working the frontlines (nursing home, hospital, and childcare) and are putting in long days due to a variety of reasons. Many have children and are trying to manage their schoolwork and their kids’ schoolwork. Some have lost jobs. It's extremely difficult, and my heart goes out to all of them.”

Corneliusen believes a combination of face-to-face and online instruction gives students a great set of tools to complete their degree but values the social interaction in-person instruction offers.

“I miss the daily lunches with my department and the friendly gestures and hellos on campus,” she said. “There are things like that online just can’t give us and I believe that students understand this on a deeper level.

“But everything has its place and online learning is a great tool to allow us to continue to learn giving these expected times.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 05/19/20   

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