August 17, 2022

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Meet Dr. Cori Crews, 2022 VSU Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching Honoree

Pictured are Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University, and Dr. Cori Crews, associate professor of accounting in the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration’s Department of Accounting. She is the recipient of the 2022 Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching.

VALDOSTA — Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University, recently honored Dr. Cori Crews with the 2022 Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching. 

The Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates a strong commitment to quality online teaching and learning, employs innovative online teaching practices, and develops rapport with individual learners in and beyond the virtual classroom.

Crews joined the VSU faculty in 2017 and currently serves as an associate professor of accounting in the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration’s Department of Accounting. Her favorite classes to teach are ACCT 2101: Principles of Accounting I and ACCT 3201: Intermediate Accounting I.

“I especially love teaching the principles classes,” she said. “These include students in all majors, not just accounting. I love being able to show students that accounting is important and applicable no matter the major.”

Crews enjoys research projects that she can incorporate into her classroom. Her favorite topics to study include financial accounting, managerial accounting, fraud, governance, technology in accounting, and accounting education.

VSU: What strategies / tools / techniques have proven most effective in increasing student learning in your online classroom?

Crews: One struggle that I, and many of us I’m sure, face is how to get students to read the text or actually delve into the course content. I have found that the more engaging and entertaining, the better. I have always made short content videos for my classes, especially my online courses. However, I recently re-recorded all of my videos to be more on the level of the TikTok generation. The videos are short — around five minutes or less — eye-catching, and engaging with animation and music. I went through the course content and created videos for all topics I wanted covered in the course. Now, instead of expecting them to read the text, they have fun videos to watch and answer questions on. The students were very receptive, and their response has been overwhelmingly positive.  

VSU: When it comes to developing a meaningful rapport with your online students, how do you ensure that your students feel actively engaged in and satisfied with their online learning experience?

Crews: It is easy for the online learning environment to become a lonely place. I strive to make sure this does not happen in my online courses. I try to ensure my students are engaged and involved in the course and that there is continual communication between the students and myself. One fun way I keep things lively is by having a weekly check-in. This is a required and graded component, but the discussions are not related to the course content. Instead, I ask a weekly question — such as, “What food do you like the most and the least?” — to keep the students active in the course and develop community. I love reading through their responses each week and engaging in conversations with my students. 

Another way I stay in communication with my students is to utilize the Intelligent Agents tool in BlazeView. This allows me to notify students who are doing well and not so well in the class. For those doing well, it’s great for them to be acknowledged for their accomplishments, and I get a lot of feedback of appreciation. For those not doing so well, it’s a good early warning system to try and get them back on track and find resources to help them. I get a lot of positive feedback from these students as well.  

VSU: What advice do you have for other faculty who wish to identify more effective ways to stimulate engagement and comprehension in their own online classroom?

Crews: I think one of the best ways to do this is to talk. Talk to your colleagues. See what they are doing and what works for them and their students. Talk to your students. See what works for them — and what doesn’t.  

The Presidential Excellence Award for faculty is an annual tradition at VSU, one that recognizes the diverse talents and contributions of the university’s innovative and active faculty. Awards are given for excellence in teaching, research, service, online teaching, and scholarship of teaching and learning.

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