Congratulations to accounting faculty, Therese Rice for being NHCC's 2022 Excellence in Education awardee! The NHCC Excellence in Education Award Program is intended to encourage, recognize and reward the work, accomplishments and important contributions of NHCC faculty for excellence in teaching for student success.
How does it feel to be the 2022 Excellence in Education recipient?
Surprising and grateful. I feel really grateful, it's a real honor. I love working with students and I love helping them to have that ‘aha light bulb’ moment.
Is it tough sometimes, to help students get over the hump to find the aha moment?
I use a lot of handouts. On these handouts, the step-by-step process is as clearly laid out as I can make it. Keeping things simple and breaking it down into chunks, I think students like that and I know that I like that. The handouts help students to understand and to follow the process.
How do students come across taking your courses?
My courses are part of their business degree. The Financial Accounting and Managerial Accounting courses are part of the business degree. NHCC has an accounting degree program and Accounting Transfer Pathway, as well.
What institution is our Accounting Transfer Pathway through?
Any NHCC student who completes the AS degree in Accounting Transfer Pathway can transfer their entire degree program into any of the seven Minnesota State Universities. It's a seamless transfer of credits.
Can you tell me more about that?
It makes it really easy for students to take the Minnesota State Community College bridge into university studies. I was on the committee that developed our Accounting Transfer Pathway program. We had a group that would meet in NHCC’s Telepresence conference room, (that is a special room that can do meetings and calls on video conferencing). It's a very nice classroom in the CBT building. There we talked to Bemidji State, Moorhead State, Metropolitan State, St. Cloud State. We also talked to other community colleges, Pine Tech, Anoka Ramsey, Alexandria, and Central Lakes. Our team was put together by the State of Minnesota, just for the Accounting Transfer Pathway program and I was part of that team. We used the Telepresence room here, so we could all see one another, (this was back in 2016, before we knew what Zoom was). I worked with the team to create the transfer pathway program so Minnesota universities and community colleges could agree on what courses would be taught to have a seamless transfer. It was a fascinating experience and the whole task took us one year.
Do your students usually go on to get their bachelor's degrees in accounting?
Yes. The majority of them are in the Accounting Transfer Pathway to continue their education at a Minnesota State University.
Can students earn a bachelor's degree on our campus, or do they have to go elsewhere?
It is possible to stay here, because of the University Center, that we have on our campus. We have a partnership with Metropolitan State University, to teach classes here for students who want to attend on-campus. Our University Center provides a convenient option, and it’s something to be proud of, to have the transfer options for several universities represented right here on our campus.
How do you feel the 2021-2022 school year has gone?
I wanted to bring at least 25% of our accounting classes back to campus, so we could have classroom opportunities and different delivery methods available for students. During fall semester I taught accounting on campus, and I’ll do the same for this spring semester as well. Another accounting instructor will be joining me on-campus too. So, we're transitioning back and increasing the number of on-campus classes each semester.
How many Accounting instructors are there?
We have a team of four.
What are you looking forward to for spring semester?
I am changing my course delivery from a classroom-capture-type-classroom, to what's called the creative classroom, so we're sitting at tables, as a group, and we'll do more accounting application. Accounting will be more hands-on this semester because I have many of my lectures, completed in video format. This way, students can view the lectures and then come to class to work on the practical application.
What does the practical application look like in general, is it a lot of Excel spreadsheets?
It can be spreadsheets, learning the homework management system that we use. It can even be the good-old-fashioned pencil to paper method, with an eraser. I do like using handouts though.
What's your favorite thing about NHCC?
I have a lot of favorite things! NHCC offers great faculty training opportunities and they’re endless. I think we have fabulous facilities. First off, I really have to say, I’m quite proud of the facilities we have here. They're clean. They are beautiful. They are new, and they're fresh. I think that's one of my favorite things, to be able to work in an environment that stimulates me and gets me excited to show up. We have classroom styles here that are different, like I mentioned, we have Classroom Capture. That works in a way, so that as I stand at the podium, I am being videotaped. The cameras film me from three different angles: through my document camera, on a Zoom call and through my screen recording as well. Students can see everything very clearly, the overhead screen is quite large and they can view me in a small corner of the screen. If students are unable to attend class, they can follow along and view the lecture at a later time, as a recording. Overall, I’ve been very impressed with Classroom Capture and the flexibility it provides to students. We also have what's called, The Creative Classroom, where the tables are in pods and students can work together in small groups. NHCC also has computer labs, the University Center, a gorgeous Grand Hall, as well as plenty of great facilities, beyond the CBT building. Just look at our Food Cupboard and Campus Center! Go over to the Workforce Innovation and Experiential Learning Center, or the Tutoring Center. My favorite thing about working here, is the state-of-the-art facility that we have been given the luxury of using. Our campus is well maintained and respected.
You mentioned technology, but how has your role as a professor evolved over the years?
Yes, some technology plays into it. The key is to help students get excited about what they're doing and what they're learning. I try to help them find their own passion and enthusiasm to accomplish the tasks at hand.
Who was the first person you told, after learning you won the Excellence in Education award?
My husband. Honestly, I haven’t told many other people!
What is something you do differently to engage with your students?
Something I do differently, is I pick up the telephone. A lot of instructors don't do that. I like to check in with students and find out what's going on. Calling students on the phone also helps when emails become tired. I remind them to register, and I remind them about homework assignments. I think the students do like it, because if they didn’t like it, they probably wouldn’t answer the phone. They do answer the phone, I would say at least 90% of the time. Students have told me they appreciate the phone calls. Sometimes the call is exactly what the student needs, because they might have forgotten that registration is coming up. Students have a lot of balls in the air, and if I can help them to just catch one ball, that might make a difference. If you don’t take the time to explain stuff to students, they can feel like they’re on an island. So, this is my way of throwing out a line to them.
What made you want to go into teaching?
I was working as an Accounting Practitioner before, and teaching happened by chance. I got hooked and one semester rolled into the next. I’ve been teaching now for nearly 32 years; I don’t recall what got me into it. Teaching happened by chance, and it just felt right.
How can we do a better job of supporting our teachers?
You know, I think NHCC has a good team of administrators. I’m on what's called, The Business Success Team; Maria Yang is our leader and we’ve met for the last four months. I get to work with Financial Advisors, as well as Academic Advisors, Dean’s, and other faculty members, to put together the Guided Pathways program. Our group met up and we worked to first identify our target persona, which we decided to be, the adult business learner. Then we identified the various student areas throughout the college, to check and see what’s working well and what’s not. We set up strategic goals and mapped everything into a student experience map. It's fun to get on different committees and be able to touch other areas of the college. I feel like we really do support each other very well, I saw that by working together on this team.
Do you know what the future holds for the accounting field?
I would say the future holds, more data analysis, or data analytics, within accounting.
What do your students usually end up doing for their careers?
I'm not totally sure. I do keep in touch with a few of our alumni, but that's an area that I would love to devote more energy to. Keeping track of our alumni is an area that we want to work on as a division, as well. I've slowly been gathering data from students as they pass through our capstone class (the last class that they take). The key is to make sure students provide us with their personal email accounts, after their North Hennepin one expires. Then, when the time is right, we can begin to create our database. I'm looking forward to that window of opportunity opening in the future. I think that will help to create more of an alumni connection.
What’s the most rewarding thing to you about teaching accounting?
When I see students excel because of their own enthusiasm.