For Marcie Miller, being able to teach and serve her students best begins with being involved and aware of the many opportunities that allow her to improve as an instructor, and in turn help her students improve their own lives.


Miller, an associate professor of psychology in the Behavioral Sciences Department, has been recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Faculty Excellence Award at South Plains College. The award recognizes a faculty member for exemplary work in the classroom, service to the college and service to the community.


“Being nominated for this award is an honor,” she said. “To think that someone out there considered me to be anywhere near in the ranks of our past recipients is pretty incredible.”


Miller has taught a variety of psychology courses for the department over the past 12 years. She started her teaching career as a graduate assistant in 2007 at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. She joined the SPC faculty in 2008.


“Teaching in the discipline of psychology provides me with unique opportunities to show students that what we study can apply to many areas of life,” she said. “When planning lectures, class discussions and assignments I do my best to create opportunities for students to take what we’re learning and use it to enhance their understanding of themselves and others or to make improvements in their lives.”


In addition to her teaching assignments, she is responsible for assessment and data collection for PSYC 2314: Lifespan growth and Development. This involves coordinating student learning outcome assessment among seven faculty members, gathering their data on course-level student learning outcomes and submitting the plans and results in Taskstream, the college’s assessment system.


“My goal is not just for students to learn psychological concepts and terminology, but also for them to be able to use that information to their benefit,” she said. Most recently in her Social Psychology course, students examined social behavior as a means to explain the hoarding of household goods, such as toilet paper. Students learned about the influence of social factors on people’s thoughts, behaviors and actions.


Miller said it is her responsibility to take advantage of opportunities offered by SPC to improve as a faculty member. To this end, she has been involved in a number of professional development activities.


“I also make a point to attend professional development geared toward better serving different student populations or helping students in general such as Disability Compliance Workshops, the presentation and discussion of Hunting Ground (documentary about sexual assault on college campuses), the Green Zone Presentation (addressing needs to student veterans), No Greater Odds (documentary and presentation about at-risk community college students), and the presentation by the Texas Workforce Commission regarding resources for students,” she said.


“SPC does a great job of providing many opportunities for professional development,” she said. “Over the past several years, I have attended multiple workshops geared toward advising.” These activities have included the Master Texas Advisor workshop, the NACADA eTutorial: Theory and Practice (a five-week online course about theory and practice in advising), TSI and Advising updates, the ABC’s of Advising, AdvisorTrac training, multiple Colleague trainings and Perceptive Content training.”


These workshops have enabled her to serve as an effective faculty advisor to 124 psychology majors. She also advises behavioral science and general studies majors as part of the summer New Student Orientation program. Along with other members of the department, she has been involved in giving presentations about the behavioral sciences for Senior Sneak Preview and other prospective students who visit SPC.  


She has attended the Southwestern Psychological Association conference as well as presentations hosted by the college on topics such as Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Professional development opportunities like these help her stay current in her discipline, she said.

In addition to her classroom duties, Miller provides service to the campus community by serving on standing committees including advising and assessment. Currently Miller serves on the Marketing and Recruitment Committee and the Website Advisory Committee as the web content specialist for Behavioral Science Department, where she develops and updated departmental webpage content. In summer 2019, she served on the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Impact Report Steering Committee, which was formed to compose a five-year report of the outcomes of the QEP.


In the past, Miller has served on the QEP Advisory Committee, the Library Committee, the Scholarship Committee, the Distance Education Committee, the New Student Orientation Committee and the Assessment Committee. Miller is also a member of the Texas Community College Teachers Association, Southwestern Psychology Association and the National Academic Advising Association.


“My primary and most obvious role as a faculty member is to provide quality instruction in the classroom, and I firmly believe that I have an opportunity to contribute to the vision of the college each time I step into the classroom,” she said. “However, as a faculty member and advisor, I also see the advancement of SPC’s mission each time I walk a student over to Health and Wellness to get help; extend a high-five to an advisee because he or she just passed a really tough exam in a math class; give directions to a visitor who is looking to register for classes; and finally get to see a student graduate or transfer after many semesters of hard work.”


This past spring has brought even more of those opportunities for Miller to help students transition to an all online delivery of coursework. “So far this new normal has involved so much more than teaching,” she said. “I’m doing a lot more checking on students, walking them through the newness, or listening to what they need from me.”


According to Dr. Peggy Skinner, chairperson of the Behavioral Science Department and professor of psychology, “Marcie is a calm and kind voice for the department and for her students. She is an excellent teacher who has been willing to share her ideas in professional development. She is open to new ideas such as making short video clips on Screencast-o-matic to supplement her class so time can be spent in class with interactive projects.”


Skinner added that Miller supports the college’s vision by presenting information for life and then helps students use this knowledge to improve their own emotional and psychological state. She is available to students and she makes them feel welcome.

“I see my role as a faculty member to be more than what is done in the classroom,” Miller said. “My role is also about serving the college and our community as a whole. I can help improve students’ lives by working closely with my fellow colleagues and learning from them, by staying up to date on college-wide issues, by serving on committees and by supporting other areas of the college.”


“My chairperson calls me the ‘Committee Queen’ because I tend to wind up on many committees at once, but I honestly don’t mind it and choose to take it as a compliment,” she said. “This is a part of my role that I perceive as important and necessary. It’s also given me the opportunity to know many awesome people in our SPC family, for which I’m very grateful.”


Miller received her Associate of Science degree from Midland College, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Texas Tech University and Master of Arts in Psychology from Stephen F. Austin State University.