An Hour With

Assistant Professor Marilee Murray

This month, we caught up with Assistant Professor Marilee Murray of Columbia State Community College in Tennessee and chatted about math, social media, and that pressing question: what's higher education all about?

They may not always get the credit they deserve, but we think every educator deserves a chance to shine. Each month, we’ll be featuring an up-and-coming educator and giving you a glimpse of their life inside and outside of the classroom.

The basics

Marilee graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and received a master’s from Bowling Green State University. She originally planned to become a high school teacher, but thanks to her mentor (yay for mentors!) and time spent as an aide in a Calculus class, she realized that higher education was her true calling.


Changing students’ perceptions and attitudes toward math; the diverse student body at Columbia State


When people tell her “I’m not a math person.”

Favorite tools

Desmos—a pretty amazing (and free!) online tool for building graphs and visualizing data

Staying connected with students in 2016

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter. Marilee loves using “the 140” to share course info, tips, and learning resources on her Twitter account. It helps her keep her shared info concise and in one place.

She keeps it professional by not following her students (do you really want to know what they’re up to over the weekend?), but she leaves her account open so any student can take advantage of the info she’s sharing and can get in touch when they need to.

Secret weapon in the classroom

Marilee likes to break out Poll Everywhere in class once in awhile to check students’ understanding in real time. This helps her adjust her teaching methods at exactly the right time.

Proudest teaching moment

Marilee wanted to try something new in her classroom one semester and decided to relinquish some control and move to an inquiry-based model that she thought might benefit her students. At the end of the semester she surveyed the class to find out what they thought.

One student replied “I actually learned in this math class…this is the first time since 7th grade I’ve felt confident about math.” (Go Marilee! That’s amazing!)

Where can you find her outside of class?

Cycling through the beautiful countryside around Nashville, which she thinks is one of the prettiest areas in the country. She also enjoys the occasional Predators game, especially when her Detroit Red Wings are in town!

Frustration about higher education today

There tends to be too much focus on completion for completion’s sake. She’d like to help students—and educators—understand that, yes, goals are important when it comes to learning, but also recognize that higher education is about helping students learn how to think and giving them the right tools to deal with any situation life throws at them.

How does she respond to the phrase “Learning makes us”?

She wants people to embrace the journey of learning and enjoy the ride, rather than worrying too much about the destination. (Spoken like a true cyclist!)

Degrees Digital Magazine | Issue 1


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