When Professor of Biology Janice Fritz started her Ph.D. program, she had no intention of being a teacher. As a student she was given financial support as a teaching assistant. “I was more than a little uncertain about teaching biology labs to undergrads,” said Fritz. “But it turned out that I loved it.”
The further she got in her Ph.D. program, the more she wanted to teach and the less she wanted to run a research program. After completing her postdoctoral training, she taught part-time at Wayne State University and Lansing Community College. “I really enjoyed both,” said Fritz. “But I really loved teaching at the community college level.”
“I love the focus on teaching, the variety of students, and the interactions I can have given the small class sizes,” said Fritz. “Truly, I have my dream job.”
Fritz teaches Human Anatomy and Physiology, a core course for allied health programs like nursing and respiratory therapy, as well as pre-professional programs for students looking to go on to become doctors, pharmacists, physical therapists, physician assistants, and more. Given the importance of high-quality health care professionals, it’s important that SC4’s healthcare-related programs, and the courses that feed into them, like Fritz’s, are rigorous and provide students with the information and skills they need to succeed. Fritz wants her classes to be challenging and she tries to provide students with all the tools they need to meet the challenge.
Fritz notes that during the pandemic, it’s been harder to teach students in a virtual environment, but she’s worked hard to give them the best possible experience, using a combination of technology and hands-on experience to replace the activities done normally in the classroom. She uses online digital models to help students identify anatomical structures and students also received supplies for building models, dissecting specimens, measuring vital signs, assessing sensory function, conducting urinalysis, and more. She uses live sessions through Microsoft Teams (recorded for those who can’t attend) to review the activities and demonstrate procedures. She uses a large monitor to see the students and keep an eye on the chat window, a multimedia computer to project documents though an interactive projector so she can add annotations, a document camera for sharing physical objects, a phone for demonstrating apps, and a laptop for accessing other documents. So she has her hands full!
Fritz held a few live sessions where students were able to come to campus if they wanted help with their dissecting. With only a few students in the room, they could maintain social distancing requirements and Fritz used the document camera to show the dissection and point out structures. Sessions were streamed for the benefit of students who couldn’t, or preferred not to, be on campus.
Online learning is definitely a challenge for some students, who have had to cope with computer issues, software incompatibilities, Wi-Fi issues, illness, and more. “Overall, my students are doing a great job engaging, staying on top of the work, and learning the content,” said Fritz. “I have just as much confidence in the future success of my students this semester as any other semester.”
“I teach at SC4 so I can help my students get their dream job like I did,” said Fritz, smiling.