Long Goes Above and Beyond to Ensure Classes are High-Quality

Daniela Long Graphic

WINTERVILLE—When the coronavirus outbreak forced Pitt Community College to move classes online last spring, instructor Daniela Long realized there could be challenges to keeping students engaged with learning math while studying remotely.

For Long, a native of Romania who has taught at PCC since 2004, it was important to make her classes as interesting and effective as possible. She began participating in professional development to learn best practices that could be incorporated into her online classes – and it’s paying off.

Last month, Long’s MAT 143 Quantitative Literacy course earned the Quality Matters (QM) Certification Mark. In addition to being an internationally-recognized symbol of course excellence, the designation is reflective of Long’s commitment to creating learning environments that provide students with a clear pathway to success.

“Daniela has taken a real interest in making her courses special,” said PCC Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Lori Preast. “Earning QM Certification was the result of her dedication to continuous improvement and innovative teaching. It essentially means her course is awesome and meets best practices for online instruction.”

QM-certified courses have been determined to have met a set of standards based on research and best practices at a level of 85 percent or greater following a rigorous review. Depending on the rubric utilized during the evaluation, certification is valid for three to five years.

Long says she was happy to have earned the QM distinction and grateful that PCC gave her the opportunity. She said it gave her a chance to examine her courses from a student’s perspective.

“I worked so hard and made so many changes,” she said. “I was nervous having three Ph.D. professors looking at what I am doing in the classroom. They gave me great recommendations and I implemented all of them.”

Long says her students “definitely” noticed the improvements. “This makes me so happy, since teaching online is different now than used to be before March 2020,” she said.

Soon after COVID-19 gave US colleges and universities no choice but to move instruction to the internet in the interest of health safety, most of those schools experienced declining enrollment. For some students, it was a matter of access to the technology needed to participate in online learning. For others, it was a dislike for the virtual classroom, making it more important than ever for faculty to ensure their courses are interesting and easy to navigate.

“I love teaching online,” Long says, “but teaching students that do not love online classes and do not want to take online classes – and feel forced to take them – definitely presents some challenges.”

Long says she is currently working on getting four more math classes (MAT 121, 152, 171 and 263) QM-certified. Should she accomplish that feat, PCC would have a total of 10 classes listed on the QM directory of certified courses.