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Featured Online Faculty Profile


Alice Clearman, Ph.D.

Professor - Professor, Online
Teaching Field: Social Sciences and Personal and
Professional Development

"DeVry University is tops among online programs. It has a very strong reputation both for academics and the work ethic of its students. Employers know that a DeVry degree is powerful proof that the person is self-starting and self-sustaining; they won't have to micromanage them to get the job done."

Where I come from

My family loved classical music. Dad taught me to play piano at four, so I wanted to be a concert pianist when I grew up. As a college major in keyboard performance, I saw that I really didn't have what it takes to do that. The kind of life I'd have as a keyboard artist would be very difficult-a lot of travel and very little money. Instead, I became a computer programmer. Later, as a mother and as a community volunteer, I became fascinated with child development and family life, so I returned to school and earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Getting that Ph.D. was very costly, so I refocused on administration because it paid better, while continuing to work clinically with kids part time. Currently I am an administrator for a unique medical practice and I supervise clinicians and do in-service training, write policy and create treatment interventions. I still play piano. At work, we hold a free clinic once a month for performing musicians who need physical therapy.

Changing your destiny

I was a returning student, just like my DeVry University students. I had two children, a house, a mortgage, and a husband to take care of. The first day back, I sat in my car thinking, “What the heck am I doing here? I'm not as smart as these people.” Eventually I realized that just because you feel scared, that doesn't make it true. The decision to go to college was one I made every day. And I knew at the very core of me-I was changing my destiny. It was nothing short of that.

This is our one chance at life, our one spin around on this globe. No one is coming to our door and taking us by the hand to shape our futures. We must do this ourselves-and it's scary and exhilarating; it's hard work and good laughs. It changes your life forever and writes in indelible ink on your pages. It gives you a sense of security and confidence in a way that no other thing quite can-you have a college degree.

Love is the reward

I love teaching at DeVry University. It gives me the opportunity to be a small part of this, of people changing their destinies and improving their lives. What an amazing thing that is! It is a great, great honor to be involved. I have a tremendous amount of respect for returning students. They overcome great obstacles to get a degree, especially the students on active duty in Iraq. They send me photos of themselves. It's really moving to be part of their lives.

I like to think I operate out of love of mankind and a heart of service. When I look back on my career, the high points all involve love for the people I worked with, even for employees I have had to fire. There has to be some kind of interpersonal reward from work; it is such a big chunk of your life.

Real-world psychology

I frequently teach a freshman course-COLL 148, Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving, which introduces students to college, polishes their study skills, and helps them get set to succeed. I give them tips for enlisting the family's support, like having their kids quiz them when they are preparing for an exam. Kids love that!

My upper-level Psychology courses focus on human motivations and the leadership skills required to effectively manage people in professional life; that includes self-management. These courses are very practical. For example, I outline situations that they will be faced with on the job-say, a co-worker with signs of a drinking problem-and ask how they would intervene, based on the textbook and on their experience.
I use humor to make it real. Stand-up comedy is a hobby of mine, I can be very funny.

No-fear technology

DeVry University's online platform, eCollege, is absolutely the best I've seen. Another online university I've taught for used email and newsgroups to get students and teacher together, and it was tedious and horrible. A state college used a platform called Blackboard. It was so cumbersome that I had trouble using it, in spite of being a computer programmer, and the students just hated it.

eCollege is so easy to use that literally students buy their first computer one day and take their first online class the next. The server is fabulous, the Help Desk is fabulous, everything is very user-friendly. There is no difficulty logging on and posting to discussion threads. My students use the Q&A Forum for more than just course information. It's our water cooler, our gathering place. People post pictures of their wedding or their new baby, and exchange stories there.

Getting to know you

DeVry University has the best student mix I have ever experienced in my seven years of teaching university students. We can have students anywhere on the planet, and they bring such different and interesting perspectives to the study of psychology. I can actually get to know the students better in some ways online than face to face in a classroom. You can't have any wall-flowers online. Everyone has a voice, and if they are not using it, I work to get them involved. It's not like a classroom where some people dominate and the others sit in the back and tune out. That's a real advantage.

Students often reveal parts of their personal lives--such as my father has cancer, I won't be active in the threads this week-and I write back to express sympathy and offer whatever assistance I can. Often I receive a note from the student later, thanking me for helping him get through that difficult time.

Why DeVry?

Any online program offers a sweet commute. I taught a class the day after I had both knees surgically replaced, just by firing up my laptop in my hospital bed. And what's good for me is great for the students. They are in mid-stream with families, jobs, and other responsibilities, yet they can go to university without interrupting their lives.

DeVry University is tops among online programs. It has a very strong reputation both for academics and the work ethic of its students. Employers know that a DeVry University degree is powerful proof that the person is self-starting and self-sustaining; they won't have to micromanage them to get the job done. DeVry University has a uniform product, so you get what you pay for. Curriculum experts set the course objectives, write the teaching materials and the exams, and pick the book that every faculty member teaches from. The faculty go through intensive training. The curriculum is continuously updated to stay current with the field. By contrast, at two California state colleges where I've taught, they checked my credentials and issued a key to the building. No training, no quality control.

When you are ready to change your destiny, DeVry University is the place to go.