A review of the development of Felicia’s professional foundation.
Although I am a first generation college student, at a young age I decided to dedicate myself to the pursuit of higher education. Upon entering St. Mary’s University as an undergraduate, I possessed little insight into where my life would lead; however, I knew that with hard work and determination, I could accomplish whatever task I set for myself. Six years later and on time, I obtained both a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology and a Master of Arts in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, while maintaining my academic scholarship and gaining work experience through an internship, graduate assistantship, and research opportunities. While it has not been an easy road, having been a full-time student who also worked to financially support herself, the financial barriers I faced only served to strengthen my resolve.
In my sophomore year, I was able to explore my interest in the benefits of education and learning by taking courses in learning and school psychology. I acquired an internship at the non-profit organization City Year San Antonio(CYSA), a promising organization which strives to reduce the drop-out rate of high school students across the United States and focuses on encouraging education among young children. Identifying on a personal level with CYSA’s goals, I realized that with further study I could aid CYSA, and similar programs, in becoming efficient and well-run. During my time there, I was offered the opportunity to facilitate a staff retreat for the organization which allowed me to experience both the industrial and organizational aspects of psychology. My responsibility was to administer surveys (examining aspects of the organization such as decision making of the staff, the organization’s structure, performance measurement, and the program’s administrative and support effectiveness) to all staff members, compile their responses, analyze the data, and report the results. In addition to my experience with survey data collection, under faculty supervision and with fellow students, I also presented research at several national conferences. Some research topics included Hispanic Serving Institutions(HSI), specifically the progress and stagnation in Latina faculty representation on HSI campuses and the stigmas HSIs face being labeled as such. Other research included a partnership with a nonprofit organization, AVANCE, which supports at-risk families through programs that provide parent education and early childhood development, where I conducted a program evaluation.
During my graduate career in I/O Psychology, I quickly became interested in the training aspect of the field. Through a graduate assistantship in Academic Technology Services(ATS) at St. Mary’s University, I honed in on training skills assisting faculty and staff with instructional and technological needs. After graduation, I accepted a corporate position in Human Resources at a manufacturing company, with the interest of being involved with employee training. I soon realized however that the training aspect of I/O Psychology, emphasis in an occupational setting, was not why I was passionate about training. It was my educational background, educational research, internship, and graduate assistantship that drove me. It had prepared me for something I had not seen coming, a career in instructional design and an interest in learning technologies. I returned to St. Mary’s University as an instructional designer under ATS in 2015. I was primarily responsible for the conversion of two graduate academic certificates and three graduate master’s programs to the online format. After a year of working as an instructional designer, I decided it was time for me continue my education and pursue a doctoral degree in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas and began in the summer of 2016.
Although I knew without a doubt that the program would be extremely beneficial for me, I did not realize how quick I would reap the benefits within my career. One of the first courses I was enrolled in, LTEC 5210 Instructional Systems Design I, included a project where I was asked to design or redesign a lesson using an instructional systems approach and decided to apply this to the St. Mary’s Online Teaching Certification Program (OTCP). As a result, the course expanded from three learning modules to seven and was converted to a completely online experience. Additionally, I was given the responsibility to facilitate the training program for the fall pilot. The OTCP was also worked on for the LTEC 6020 Advanced Instructional Design course. Early on, I was interested in online orientations and in courses such as LTEC 6000 Philosophy of Computing in Learning Technologies and LTEC 6040 Theory and Practice of Distributed Learning, I was able to conduct literature reviews on the subject. Furthermore, the experience of reviewing the literature on online orientations provided me with confidence to take on a new project of assisting with the development of an online orientation for a newly created Master of Jurisprudence online program at St. Mary’s University. This occurred in 2017, during my second year of the program. An unexpected surprise of my second year within the program was the newly discovered passion for web design due to my summer LTEC 5420 Web Authoring course. The curriculum in this course also directly impacted me in my career and also skilled me to work on the orientation project. Moreover, I began taking on web or HTML projects at my job and for example, worked to create resource hubs for a learning management system transition for both faculty and students to utilize.
Another unexpected result or change that occurred towards the end of my second year was my promotion from Instructional Designer to my current role as the Director of Online Learning & Curriculum Innovation. In this new role, I am responsible for providing leadership, management, and direction in the development and support of online learning programs and curriculum initiatives across the University academic community in support of the University’s mission and goals. I believe that my learning and research experiences within the doctoral program prepared me for this new role. Not only did I have the practical experience but I also was working on developing a foundation of better understanding based on theoretical frameworks, something valuable working within a higher education institution. As I mentioned previously when I first started the program my research interests revolved around faculty training and online student orientations and how the two were related to student success and retention. However, throughout the program, my research interests took a turn to include first web accessibility and then expanded to the Digital Divide and overall access to computers and high-speed internet. At the moment, I am interested in achievement gaps within online higher education and how this relates to the Digital Divide.
My portfolio includes the following sections:
- Curriculum Vitae detailing my educational and professional experiences.
- Scholarly writing completed during the program on topics such as Universal Design for Learning, Dual Coding Theory, faculty training, the Digital Divide, online learner interactions, and achievement gaps in higher education.
- Professional Presentations that I have completed on topics such as faculty training for online learning, online accessibility within online courses, Hispanic Serving Intuitions, and the Digital Divide.
- Technology-based Creative Works I have worked on as a direct result of the program.