The facilitation styles of online faculty vary greatly. Some faculty are in the online masters in nursing course daily, others only a few times a week. You will be able to tell what type of faculty you have in the first week of a class. Look at the pattern of dates for faculty posts in the introduction area of the course and the first week of discussions. If the dates of posting appear daily, then you know the pattern of the faculty to plan how far in advance you need to post questions or send emails. Think about the timing of faculty being in the course and time your questions appropriately.
Many online faculty do not go into their course during the weekend when course assignments are due, so be sure to ask any assignment questions by mid week. If you are anticipating a difficult week, be sure to request any needed extensions at least 24-48 hours before the work is due. This good communication will go a long way to working well with the online masters in nursing faculty. Another good idea related to communication is providing faculty feedback.
We all like to hear we are doing a good job. If faculty are participative and responsive, let them know this in your communications with them. On the other side of the situation, save feedback for improvement for the course evaluation at the end of a course. Completing the course evaluation is key to providing your online masters in nursing program faculty and administration much needed feedback. The good news is that these evaluations are anonymous and faculty do not see any of the feedback until after final grades have been submitted. If you feel you had a particularly poor faculty and course experience, be sure to encourage your classmates to share their feedback as well so the evaluation does not look skewed by one or two students, but rather is a reflection of the class as a whole. The same holds true for positive faculty and course experiences. The goal for any organization is as close to 100% evaluation response rates as possible from students.
If you have a question regarding a grade you received, some good ways to phrase these types of questions are to start with: “I am somewhat confused…..” ; I was wondering about ……” and “I was looking for some help regarding….”. By acknowledging the fact that there may be a misunderstanding on your part with faculty feedback, a student can delicately approach the subject of questioning a grade. Remember, faculty are human too, and may make mistakes (although some faculty do not like to admit this). Appropriate communication with faculty is a vital part of success in an online master’s in nursing program.
Dr. Maggie is Margaret Reneau, PhD, RN and Online Graduate Nursing Program Director for Saint Xavier University, School of Nursing, Chicago, IL.