Margaret Durr is the OU College of Professional and Continuing Studies faculty member honoree for the third quarter of 2022. Durr has been an instructor with PACS since 2017. One of her favorite courses to teach is LSAL 4953 Capstone Coursein Organizational Leadership.
How long have you worked for PACS?
I have worked for PACS since 2017.
Tell us a little more about your education, professional background and experience, including what you do outside of teaching for PACS.
I have a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. I have an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a B.S. degree in Psychology from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. I began my college career wanting to be a pharmacist. I served as a research assistant for a physiological psychologist conducting research on circadian rhythms and shift work. As a result, I changed my major to psychology with a double minor in management and sociology.
"The OU PACS faculty and staff clearly love working with the students and put the needs of students as their first priority. Everyone I have met is focused on helping students to learn, change and grow."
During graduate school, I worked as a graduate teaching assistant in statistics. I also taught as a part-time instructor in general psychology and human relations. I served as a project consultant for the cities of Lincoln and Omaha. I also worked as a compensation analyst for a hospital. After completing my Ph.D., I directed an industry-based workplace training and development grant project to increase workplace literacy and promote life-long learning. I served as an industrial/organizational psychologist at ACT, Inc. with the Work Keys workforce development system. This included using the system as an external consultant with clients such as Bombardier, Anheuser-Busch, Sunbeam, Neutrogena, GE Plastics and Corning. I then became an internal consultant for Safeway, managing their testing and assessment design, developing competency models, assessment centers, leadership development tools, and selection systems to enhance the company’s talent. I joined Wal-Mart Stores, as an executive development consultant and provided executive coaching and development planning for executives. As a director of management development for corporate, I developed executives and high potential talent for the home office. This included coaching executives in development planning, mentoring, action learning and change management. At J.B. Hunt Transport, I led the implementation of employee selection assessments, developed the leadership competency model, implemented the Work Day Talent Management system and directed company assessments to include EQ, 360 Degree Leadership and Engagement Surveys. I currently own a consulting business (Durr Consulting Group) and work on selected projects for consulting firms to provide leadership development programs, assessments and coaching. I also use leadership assessments and surveys to advise clients and provide individual coaching in career development and outplacement.
What is your favorite thing about being an instructor at OU?
I have always enjoyed teaching and believe we all need to “learn, change and grow” throughout our lives. In my experience as an executive coach, leaders that resist developing new skills are typically viewed as dissatisfied and stagnant. The OU PACS faculty and staff clearly love working with the students and put the needs of students as their first priority. Everyone I have met is focused on helping students to learn, change and grow.
What is your best teaching tip for other instructors?
I have learned that teaching online requires extra effort in setting the tone at the beginning of the course. It is important to post a welcome message that portrays your enthusiasm for the course and demonstrates to the students that you are excited about learning with them.
This also helps alleviate any possible fears and feelings of isolation they could experience from the start. Welcome videos and storytelling provide students with a sense of you as a person as well as an instructor. Encourage students to showcase their knowledge, talents and experiences during discussions and in-class assignments to increase engagement. Capitalizing on the professional experiences our students bring to the table makes for a more enjoyable learning experience for everyone.
What advice would you give to other instructors for balancing teaching and other responsibilities?
One of my former colleagues was famous for saying, “do not recreate the wheel.” Develop a database of your communications to students to include announcements, replies to discussion comments and grading feedback to use as a starting point for engaging with students. I also have within Canvas videos and other multimedia that I have found to be effective. Much like the database of communications, these tools make communicating with students easier to access and saves lots of time. This also provides consistency and helps balance teaching with the rest of life.
What is your favorite course to teach?
I have enjoyed the courses I have taught for PACS. One of my favorites is LSAL 4953 Capstone Course in Organizational Leadership. The students create an ePortfolio to highlight their learnings from the program. The students complete the program with a tool that is both tangible and creative and showcases the skills they have gained in the Organizational Leadership program.
Is there a student or class that has influenced or made an impact on your life in any way?
There are several students who made an impact on my life due to their courage and tenacity in pursuing their education against formidable obstacles. One that comes to mind is a student who was facing major legal challenges while trying to complete his degree. Despite the obstacles, he was dedicated to completing assignments on time, asking questions for understanding and utilizing the feedback he was given to improve his performance. He was an excellent example to other students and me on how to succeed against the formidable obstacles of life.
What advice do you have for adult students returning to school?
Take classes that are less challenging at the beginning of your coursework. You will then have time to adjust to the demands of studying and time away from the other responsibilities in your life (i.e., family, work, etc.). Another suggestion would be to take fewer hours during your first semester. Having fewer classes allows you to establish a study routine. Remember, significant others in your life also need time to adjust.
Each quarter, the College of Professional and Continuing Studies recognizes a faculty member for their course expertise and contributions to an exceptional student experience.