UHV taps real-world expertise to enhance learning experiences

Nothing teaches quite like experience, but teachers with real-world experience certainly come close.


Through the use of adjunct instructors, the University of Houston-Victoria brings practiced real-world expertise into face-to-face and online classes to provide students with the most relevant and up-to-date information possible.


"A well-rounded education is a combination of theory and practical application," UHV Provost Suzanne LaBrecque said. "We seek professionals who demonstrate their expertise in our community and invite them to share their knowledge with our students."


For example, Forensics and the Law will be taught this semester by defense attorney Elliott Costas. During his 25 years in criminal practice, Costas has handled about 1,000 cases ranging from a barking dog case to about a dozen capital murder cases.


"I have practical experience in how the system works," Costas said. "I've sat face-to-face with a spectrum of all segments of society."


Costas will teach about how DNA, fingerprinting, tire marks, tool marks and forensic anthropology actually are used in a legal setting and the distinction between how they are used in civil law and criminal law.


"My major goal is for the students to enjoy the experience of the class and take away knowledge that will help them in their studies and careers," Costas said. His real-life experiences will add the depth and direct application that will make the course exceptionally useful.


Patty Janca
As a school counselor, Patty Janca often brings real-life situations she encounters with students at Patti Welder Middle School for UHV education students to consider. For about a decade, she's taught Child Development and Its Application to Learning.


"I teach future teachers how to teach and deal with all children from conception to adolescence," she said. She teaches how children think and react and how teachers need to respond to get required results.


"My goal is to teach future teachers how to handle these children because I need teachers who can handle and teach these kids to make my job easier and theirs," Janca said. "I want them to be successful because they are my future."


Holly Verhasselt
The statistics classes Holly Verhasselt took while earning her doctorate are put to use every day in her job as LaBrecque's executive assistant to the UHV provost. She prepares vital reports for governing and accrediting boards.


She also shares that knowledge in the statistics classes she teaches to undergraduate and graduate business students.


"I like taking a subject that most people dread and making it interesting and relevant to their daily lives," she said.


She brings in real-world applications from her work and the media as a whole. This semester, she plans to use the Olympics to highlight just some of the statistics people encounter in their leisure time.


Adjunct faculty must have a master's degree to teach undergraduate courses or a doctorate to teach at the graduate level. Instructors also need to have extensive knowledge in the subject they teach.


For example, a social studies teacher with a masters degree may be hired to teach a class about social studies methods, said John Stansell, dean of the School of Education & Human Development.


Anyone interested in becoming an adjunct instructor should contact UHV at 361-570-4848 and ask to speak to the school at UHV that includes his or her area of expertise. Registration for UHV fall classes ends at noon Friday.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342