Upperclassmen Small Groups
September 17, 2020 I Grant Stelzer
Here at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, faculty, staff, and students work together to create the best possible campus experience even in the tough and confusing times of COVID-19. Many new procedures and restrictions have been put into place, but one addition, Life Groups, is looking to bring students closer together in these uncertain times.
The formation of Life Groups for the 2020-2021 school year, according to Life Group coordinator Noah Robbins, was due to the “absence, among upperclassmen, of the sense of community that comes from gathering together in a tight-knit group studying the Word.” Earlier this year in the spring of 2020, the concept of Life Groups was suggested but was not a solidified idea for the Fall semester until July.
Some may be confused at the concept of Life Groups and may find it to be extremely similar to small groups. Robbins then explained that “Life Groups are aimed at upperclassmen who have gone to MVNU for a full year” and shortly after explained that there is “no relationship between them.” Robbins then continued to explain some good qualities and what to expect when getting involved in a Life Group. “They will discuss Christian Life, Vocation, Relationships, and Books of the Bible as a group.”
Robbins continues “(Life Groups) generally meet during chapel hour, 10:20-11:20, on Wednesdays and allow for an opportunity to earn 10 spiritual formation credits.” According to Robbins, there will be around 21 groups that will meet weekly on Wednesdays.
There have also been some speed bumps along the way, but Robbins explained “...we have been able to work around those issues. There is the issue of starting a whole new campus ministries department essentially from scratch. We had to come up with resources, study guides, topics, structure, (etc…). It has been a challenge sometimes, but God has been faithful to see us through it.” Due to the restrictions of COVID-19, meetings will have to limit the number of people meeting in person and will sometimes have to resort to online Zoom sessions or outside meetings.
Robbins ended by stating that he is excited about the first year of the program and explained that there are plans for it continuing into the many years to come.
Learning Hands-On, Online
May 2, 2020 I Lexie Merritt
COVID-19 has changed the way this semester’s students are learning. It has also changed the way that professors are teaching their courses. MVNU’s education and nursing majors have been hit with a difficult situation, meeting requirements, and substituting hands-on learning. Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences Dr. Carol Dorough had some insight on how the shift has affected nursing students whose clinicals are affected.
“Classes with clinical components have certainly been the most challenging to move online,” Dr. Dorough said. “Students must meet clinical objectives, so faculty had to adapt. In addition to faculty creativity, multiple virtual resources were found to help students gain knowledge, have virtual patient care experiences and develop critical thinking skills.” The transition has had Dr. Dorough along with students missing interactions in the classroom. “For me, I miss having face-to-face interactions with students and hearing them talk and laugh with each other before classes start.” Dr. Dorough shared, “Being online is live, but not as much fun.” Students had worried about this shift and what this meant for seniors as well who need clinical hours to graduate. Dr. Dorough assured those wondering, “Our senior nursing students will all meet their clinical objectives.”
Students in the education department have had a rollercoaster of an experience with the online shift as well. Dr. Elizabeth Napier, associate professor of education, stated that “While every school district has a unique approach to educating students, the lightning speed with which we had to transition our student teachers to an online setting was unprecedented. As K-12 classrooms went digital, we literally had no idea what that would look like.” Dr. Jessica Grubaugh, the department chair of the education department, also had some insight on these unprecedented times. “The pandemic has amplified the need for flexibility in teaching and reminded us that we need to continue to think about designing and implementing learning experiences for students in all kinds of circumstances.” Dr. Grubaugh offers some positives that have been discovered in the shift to online learning, saying that, “the closure of K-12 school buildings forced us as a faculty group to come up with some alternative assignments that I think ended up being pretty strong! We actually hope to incorporate some of those assignments into our curriculum long-term to better prepare candidates to teach from a distance.”
Students also wondered about student teaching requirements, and what that meant for seniors looking to graduate this year. Dr. Napier said that the Ohio Department of Education has provided guidance about this issue already and have worked with student teachers to ensure that they graduate. “Student teachers are allowed to count the hours as full-time student teaching hours even though they transitioned to the online format… We are fully expecting all of our traditional student teachers to graduate despite the transition.”
MVNU’s staff has dedicated time into making this transition to online learning as smooth as it could be for students. Dr. Dorough leaves some final wisdom, “In life, I have found few times when the Lord has not used crises to teach me lessons I have needed in later times. Part of my responsibility right now is to pay attention to what God has to teach me in this situation.”
Artwork by Liz Crosby.