Professor in Zoology from University of Vermont and a PhD in Genetics and Cell Biology from University of Minnesota.
Q&A with Dr. Joan Barber
What prompted you to nominate your first Student Partner?
What attracted me to the program was that it would be a timesaver, particularly early in the semester. Also, the idea of having a student explain, “This is why you’re going to want to use WileyPLUS,” and “This is why you’ll want to use ORION,” and “This is how it helped me” was really appealing. Plus, the Student Partner can help other students with technical questions. I would often tell them to call the Wiley 24/7 helpline if they had any questions, but that still didn’t make a lot of them feel comfortable. Having my Student Partner, Rebecca, there to hold their hands has been good for my students, good for me, and really a win-win situation for everybody.
What qualities did you look for in a nominee?
I was looking for an A-student, someone who used WileyPLUS and ORION extensively and had shown proficiencies in the 90% range. I also looked for someone who was outgoing, happy, and friendly—someone who could reach out to other students and be part of a study group. I wanted to find a Student Partner who could honestly say, “I know the class is hard—it’s supposed to be hard—but WileyPLUS really, really helps me.”
How did you prepare for your Student Partner?
I didn’t have to prepare anything because Wiley took care of all the Student Partner training. The only thing I had to do was make sure I scheduled a bit of time in class for Rebecca to come in and talk to my class. My investment was maybe ten minutes, and she took it and ran with it.
What are the benefits of the Student Partner program for instructors?
When students want to ask a question about WileyPLUS or ORION Adaptive Practice, they’re much more comfortable asking another student. It also saves me the time it takes to answer multiple emails—many asking the same questions—because students often don’t want to speak up in class. The Student Partner program helps separate my job from their job: my job is to teach them in the classroom and make these wonderful products available to them, and their job is to learn.
What unexpected value has this program brought to your classroom?
Students can see that Rebecca and I not only have a professional relationship, but we also have a friendly relationship, which gives them a better understanding of how to interact with a teacher. Rebecca really models behavior for the class. When they see Rebecca interact with me, they feel more comfortable talking to me as well. There’s a more professional, more focused attitude in the classes she’s in. It’s very subtle, but she helps set the tone.
How has your Student Partner benefited from the program?
I have seen Rebecca grow over this past year. She was unsure of herself when I first met her, and now her confidence level and her ability to speak with other students has grown. It’s been a great experience for her, and for me it’s wonderful to improve another aspect of a student’s life and give her a professional experience. The little bit of time I spend mentoring Rebecca has come back to me ten-fold.
Joan Barber received a BA in Zoology from University of Vermont and a PhD in Genetics and Cell Biology from University of Minnesota. Joan has been at Delaware Technical Community College for over 30 years in various roles including stints as the Chairperson for Faculty Senate, Principal Investigator or coPI for several National Science Foundation grants, and Department Chairperson. However, Joan’s first love is teaching science. She has taught a range of science classes including Biochemistry, Biology, Biotechnology, and Anatomy & Physiology (A&P). A&P has been her major teaching focus for the last two decades. Joan has authored a customized A&P Lab Manual with several of her colleagues that is now in its 10th edition. She enjoys reviewing text books and lab manuals and has authored ancillary materials such as critical thinking questions for A&P text books.
During her spare time, Joan enjoys traveling, gardening, good chocolate, and sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.