Math Professor Robin Ayers’ office is a visual testament to her passion for her students. Her walls are festooned with mementos and artifacts, newspaper clippings and autographed red towels, collected over her 26 years of teaching college math, each one celebrating a relationship with a cherished student. After speaking with Professor Ayers, it quickly becomes clear that she cherishes ALL of her students.
At WKU’s 2015 Convocation, President Gary Ransdell honored Professor Ayers with the 14th Annual “Spirit of Western Award”. President Ransdell recognized Ms. Ayers’ enthusiasm and passion and that she “never fails to go over-the-top for all things WKU. The pride and commitment she has for WKU shows in her face, in her voice, in her classroom, and in her office.”
When designing her self-paced, online sections of Math 116 (College Algebra) and Math 117 (Trigonometry) for WKU On Demand, Professor Ayers’ goal was to make her web classes as close to the face-to-face classroom experience as possible. To do this, she took on the Herculean task of recording instructional videos for every single section of the class. There are more than 30 videos in both the On Demand College Algebra course and in On Demand Trigonometry; Professor Ayers works out every problem with the student in each video. She also asked her son, a current WKU student, for advice on how to make her online classes more accessible.
Professor Ayers was guided by the Instructional Design team in Distance Learning to help her structure her classes for On Demand. Instructional Designer Alicia Pennington said, “Robin knew what she wanted to cover. We just helped her reorganize her content so that it is not overwhelming; consistency is the key.” Alicia has also observed Professor Ayers interacting with her students, “She is so caring and collegial; she has worked very hard to make her Blackboard class friendly to online students.”
Professor Ayers understands that students struggle with many different obstacles, from learning disabilities related to autism, to the challenges facing student athletes, or even institutional biases that might affect expectations for some students. Back when student Robin Ayers arrived at Western as a freshman, she met with some resistance when she attempted to register for Calculus. After she received the message that she might be better off taking something ‘easier’, she resolved to major in Mathematics and went on to become the first woman of color to earn a BS in Mathematics from WKU. Her determination and her passion for helping students to succeed is evident in the two Math classes that she has designed for WKU On Demand.