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Inspiring Teacher: Mari Borr, associate professor of family and consumer sciences teacher education

Mari Borr is an experienced online educator, with the skills necessary to help students succeed in distance learning during the pandemic.

Borr coordinates NDSU’s family and consumer sciences teacher education programs and teaches courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She also teaches graduate courses for the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a consortium of universities that provide online programs.

“The keys to teaching a successful online course are clear communication and organization. Assignment instructions need to be more detailed because spontaneous questions don’t pop up like they would in a face-to-face class and students are less likely to communicate with each other to clarify assignment details,” Borr said. “Although students have the ability to ask questions via email or other methods, it will be a better experience for the instructor and the students if communication is clear and detailed from the beginning. An organized course, with modules that are set up similar to each other, helps students focus on the content of the course instead of hunting for course information.”

According to Borr, distance education has benefits – students are able to work in a location or at a time that best fits their lives. Students with work or family responsibilities are still able to access courses and complete their degree.

She urges students to stay actively involved with lessons each week, rather than finishing all the work early in the course or waiting until the end of the semester.

“Communicate with your instructor when you have questions or concerns. Remember that your instructor is a real person who wants you to succeed,” Borr said. “Make sure you stay on track and don’t get behind in your coursework. To achieve this, you may find it helpful to set aside some time every day to work on the course. Online learning takes a lot of self-motivation and self-discipline.”

Borr earned her bachelor’s degree and Master of Education in family and consumer sciences education from NDSU and her doctorate in teaching and learning – higher education at the University of North Dakota.


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North Dakota State University
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