Online Master’s Program Provides Relevant, Useful Information

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Heidi Hyde (’18) Learns New Ways to Teach Writing and Grammar

Although she feels uncomfortable working with technology, Heidi Hyde overcame doubts about her technical abilities and enrolled in the online Master of Arts in English program at Gardner-Webb University.

“I loved the thought of getting my master’s in literature without having to drive to a campus,” said Hyde, who lives in Hickory, N.C. “The fact that the degree was completely online was attractive to me in this regard. I love seated classes, but the benefits of the online program outweighed the disadvantages for me.”

Hyde has been teaching high school English for 18 years and wanted to pursue a concentration in literature studies to improve her skills in the classroom. “I thought the concentration would not only better prepare me for teaching my own students more deeply, but also be a topic I really enjoy—reading and writing about literature,” she assessed.

She soon discovered GWU was the right choice, because she respects the faculty and has learned new techniques to use in her classroom. “I have been very pleased with how kind, helpful, and knowledgeable the professors have been,” Hyde affirmed. “This has been a tremendous experience.”

Hyde also values being able to receive her education in a Christian atmosphere. “I have felt free to express my Christian beliefs in my writing assignments, because I know that GWU is a faith-based University,” she shared. “This has shaped my topic selection on a couple of assignments and in discussion. I even asked Dr. Shana Hartman to pray for me during a particularly stressful time mid-semester.”

Having received her undergraduate degree in secondary English education from UNC-Chapel Hill nearly 20 years ago, she appreciates the relevant and timely material offered in the GWU program. “I have enjoyed learning about changes in English studies and getting updated in the field,” she observed. “I have loved Literary Criticism and Victorian Literature, because the content was right up my alley. All of the courses, I believe, have been meaningful to me, and I feel that my tuition money has been invested well.”

When thinking about her professors, Hyde gives specific examples of how each one has challenged her to improve her own teaching methods or introduced her to new concepts. “Dr. Jennifer Buckner taught me about New Media and the wide world of composing offered through technology,” Hyde reflected. “Dr. Cheryl Duffus offered excellent comments on my drafts and helped me with my academic writing. Dr. Hartman invited me to think about teaching writing in such a way that I examined what I thought I knew, rethought how I teach writing in my classroom, and considered changing ways in which I grade and teach grammar. Dr. Janet Land has just been all-around amazing. I feel like every minute I spend on her readings and assignments has a tangible benefit to my growth as a scholar and a teacher. Her assignments are clear; her online format presentation is streamlined, concise, and user-friendly; and she makes you feel like an important part of class, even in an online format.”