Consumer & Personal Finance Course Management Guide
This section of the knowledgebase provides an overview of faculty recruitment, faculty training, and recommendations for peer mentoring for new and established teachers.
CUNY SPS conducts targeted outreach to recruit talented practitioners and teachers to deliver the course, and looks for the following qualities in its faculty hires:
- Demonstrated experience in working with young adults;
- Facility with online teaching
- A background in college counseling, financial counseling, or high-school-based teaching.
At CUNY SPS, faculty are hired as adjunct faculty; for each course, faculty are appointed for instructional hours equivalent to a three-credit course, and also receive hours for non-teaching time. Please see Resources for a sample job description to support faculty recruitment.
Preparation for Teaching Online Workshop
In advance of the faculty’s teaching the course, CUNY SPS enrolls faculty in the school’s Preparation for Teaching Online (PTO) Workshop. The workshop takes place over the course of two weeks, and is offered asynchronously (with no set meeting times) for participants to complete the required assignments. “The workshop models effective design and facilitation skills and addresses design issues, pedagogical approaches to teaching online and hybrid courses, as well as organization and management of an online class.”1 Prior to enrollment in the PTO, faculty should have a basic working knowledge of the learning management system that is used to support credit-bearing courses.
One of the PTO assignments asks faculty to select an existing assignment in the course, and reflect on how the faculty would teach the assignment, given that Consumer & Personal Finance faculty teach the course from an existing course site. This differs from many courses in higher education, where faculty are given a standard syllabus, but are responsible for creating the course content.
The PTO workshop also asks faculty to examine their communication and correspondence with students in the online teaching environment so that they are aware of their tone of voice, provide clear instructions, and, overall, are effective communicators.
Please see Resources for the Preparation for Teaching Online Workshop syllabus.
Training with Program Staff
Program staff are also instrumental in supporting faculty as they begin working in the course. Prior to teaching the course, program staff hold an in-person meeting or conference call with faculty to 1) discuss student retention strategies that have proven effective; 2) confirm expectations as far as the faculty’s role in the course; and 3) review the course materials.
There are several strategies that have been proven to retain online learners, and in particular, those in high school, taking this course:
- Course announcements should be encouraging, and should be directly related to the course content. Faculty should not be afraid to over communicate with this population of learners, as students have benefited from frequent communications.
- Faculty’s first impression to students counts. Faculty should be encouraged to personalize their course site with introductory course videos, explaining their backgrounds, areas of interest, and enthusiasm for teaching the course.
- Within the online course site, faculty should post introductory discussion board posts, and should be careful to respond to students quickly as possible so as to encourage participation from the outset of the course.
In addition, the faculty’s contact information within the online course should be accurate, and should make clear relay information to students about the best time to contact faculty about questions and whether the faculty will hold office hours which may be in person or online
In our experience, high school students have been hesitant to reach out directly to faculty with questions or concerns. Faculty should know that they will need to be proactive in reaching out to students until a rapport is established, and the students feel comfortable initiating contact.
There are four main areas of responsibility for faculty teaching the course: teaching, supporting, grading, and reporting.
Faculty teach by providing constructive feedback on individual student assignments, facilitating effective discussion within students’ posts, and making thoughtful announcements to the full class about particular terms, assignments, or areas of student learning.
In addition to their teaching responsibilities, faculty are responsible for grading individual assignments, as well as providing midterm grading and final grading.
Faculty should also expect to take on a supportive role in the course, encouraging students to complete assignments, and comply with established deadlines. They should also encourage students to take advantage of specific lesson activities in the course that, while not part of the student’s final grade, are beneficial to their learning, such as the HESC Financial Counselor Conversation activity in the Paying for Postsecondary Education lesson of the course.
Faculty are also expected to report back to program staff on students who may be falling behind in the course. This information is then reported back to the high school liaisons. See the Working with Course Stakeholders: High School Personnel section of this knowledgebase for more information.
Explanation of Course Materials
Program staff and faculty also review the multitude of course materials. They review the content from within the online course site so that faculty can understand how course materials are structured.
Program staff and faculty go over the basic mechanics of the course, such as how students submit their lesson activity packs via Adobe Reader. In addition, faculty are given a copy of the coursepack and access to the teacher-facing lesson activity packs, which assist with grading.
CUNY and HESC have also developed midterm and final assignments, grading rubrics, smaller interactive games, and a full-length game called “My Big Year!”
Course introductory videos are hosted on YouTube, and intended to provide a high-level overview of the week’s lesson. The introductory videos are narrated by Professor Joyce Moy, who served as the faculty developer on the course.
Videos created by the educational hip-hop company Flocabulary are available for viewing at the end of every week’s lesson. The Flocabulary videos are meant to reinforce key terms and concepts of each lesson.
“My Big Year!” is a full-length game that is part of the course. Faculty should remind students to play the game, and facilitate online conversation about how the game ties into the overall course.
All course materials should be reviewed so the faculty have an understanding of the content. For a breakdown of the course materials, broken out by lesson, please see Resources for the Course Lesson Catalog.
Explanation of Student Technical Challenges
Faculty should also be made aware of common mistakes that students make in submitting the lesson activity packs from within the course site. Sometimes, students do not save the document properly, or begin working in the document from within a web browser versus saving the document to a flash drive or a computer file folder. When this happens, students’ work is not captured correctly within the document.
In addition, faculty should know that there will be some students whose access to a computer will become restricted; if this happens, usually the student or a high school liaison will make the instructor or program staff aware. If a student’s computer access is not restored, the student should be withdrawn from the course.
Once an institution’s faculty roster is established, it may be helpful to set up a peer mentoring program. CUNY recommends that institutions partner faculty—in order to form a mentoring relationship. The CUNY SPS faculty peer mentoring program manual states: “For mentees, mentoring has been shown to improve productivity, promote good teaching ideas and methods, increase understanding of the institutional context, and facilitate access to professional support networks.”2
Critical to creating a successful peer mentoring program is the establishment of regular checkpoints and a formalization of the relationship between the mentee and mentor.
With permission of Dr. Susan Ko, Faculty Development Director of the CUNY School of Professional Studies, and with attribution to the source, institutions can adapt and/or use the faculty-peer mentor program developed by CUNY SPS to suit their needs.3
2 CUNY School of Professional Studies, Office of Faculty Development & Instructional Technology, Mentoring Manual for Mentors and Mentees, August 8, 2016.
3 The manual is available for download https://spsfaculty.commons.gc.cuny.edu/sps-faculty-peer-mentoring/.