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Margery M. Coulson-Clark

UNC Board of Governors 2018 Teaching Award Winner Margery Coulson-Clark

Elizabeth City State University

Teaching Goals, Methods and Philosophy

Elevate higher, emerge stronger! Your place to succeed! Preparing leaders for the 21st Century!  Enter to Learn, Depart to Conquer!  These are taglines taken to heart when teaching students who will become tomorrow's decision makers. My teaching philosophy incorporates technology, assessments, interactions, ethical principles, personal development and personal accountability. I am a servant teacher. I serve as the "guide on the side, not the sage on the stage." My goal is to encourage students to face their fears and crisis of confidence, and maximize their academic potential. It is my quest that every student builds a solid foundation for future living.  Having students return to my classes after completing graduate or law school to tell me how they have succeeded is what encourages my teaching approach and solidifies my teaching philosophy.

Teaching with Technology

I believe students should be able to utilize the current technology to search for answers on the road to enlightenment, truth and ultimately knowledge. It is not unusual to see students in my class utilizing their phones and IPADs to look up current, salient information.  I have incorporated Power Point, Smart Board, on line teaching and Echo 360 to ensure that students have access to teaching and learning with technology. My students learn how to conduct research utilizing online peer reviewed journals and other scholarly online materials. Further, they learn to put together electronic portfolios as part of my State and Local Government class.


Teaching is important, but assessing what students know to succeed in graduate school is even more important.  Students are  expected  to  write  short (2-5  pages),  mid  length  (4-6 pages) and  longer (8-12 pages) research and  reaction papers.  Students are asked to write in class and outside of class.   In addition to the one hour exams, midterms and finals, I utilize the "one minute assessment" in my classes with short on-going quizzes and in class collaboration.  These methods provide measurable outcomes where students can graded to have instant feedback.   They write the one minute assessment at the end of class to let the faculty know what is clear, what is not clear or what needs further discussion. Further, students are given rubrics for papers and presentations. These assessment methods put some accountability on both the faculty and the students to know up front what outcomes are expected for each assignment. Strong evidence of critical thinking, analysis and evaluation is central to obtaining an "A" in the classes.   Students are asked to write but also to present counter arguments when presenting their research.


Interaction is central to learning.  I am mindful of different learning styles and teach to each by a combination of interactive styles:  question and answers, collaborative projects, analogies, illustrations and role-playing.  I will begin a class in Public Administration by saying, "When you become public administrators you will need to know ... ", then I will present the material pertinent to the class: budgeting, organization theory, decision-making, ethical principles and whatever else they will need to know.

Students are not just earning a grade; they are planning for a successful future.  I believe that students should be able to transfer knowledge obtained in my classes to the understanding and analysis of events and challenges they observe and will face in their future careers.

Ethical Principles, Personal Development and Accountability

Integrity and hard work are rewarded and expected. Ethical behavior is demanded and any deviation is quickly addressed. Students learn early that cheating is not tolerated. Students sign themselves in and the faculty member never has to worry whether student x or y is in class.  Students know that quizzes are given the first five minutes of class and exams questions are reviewed the last five minutes. I encourage students to provide structured, factual and objective answers to questions posed in discussions.  Another imperative is the innovation and creativity in the learning process. Students are rewarded for finding creative solutions to ongoing public policy problems. Students are also taught to find innovative ways to think about their own success.   If a student does poorly on the first assessment, a conference with that student is conducted, a time management schedule is offered, and conversations about long term success become central to our discussion. I believe that teaching students to become great future decision-makers must always remain central to my teaching. It is my desire to leave this world a better place than how I found it. I will do this one student and one class at a time.

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