Maximizing class time even when absent

Students aren't the only ones who miss class. Due to conflicts both personal and professional, faculty occasionally can't make it to a scheduled session of a course they are teaching. An initiative the Student Loan Education Office launched two years ago, Don't Cancel That Class, makes it easy for instructors to fill an open period with a guest presentation.

It's a simple idea that financial literacy adviser Julia Gwebu picked up at a conference and replicated at Iowa State. It offers faculty -- and academic advisers who often teach departmental and college orientation courses -- a list of presentations with wide appeal offered by campus student service groups.

In addition to sessions on financial literacy from the Student Loan Education Office, the list includes presentations by the Academic Success Center, the Margaret Sloss Women's Center, Student Wellness and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences study abroad program.

Faculty fill out an online form to request a presentation. Two weeks of advance notice is recommended, as the initiative is designed for planned absences. In 2016-17, the first year it was available, about two dozen requests were fulfilled, Gwebu said. That grew to about 35 presentations during 2017-18, she said.

While the organizations who put on the programs often have their own procedures for scheduling presentations, the centralized list is helpful, Gwebu said. Some of the presentations work well for specific classes, and faculty have used the request form to line up programs on days they weren't absent.

"There are all these great resources, but it takes time for faculty to search out those opportunities," she said.

It also gives student services groups another shot at reaching students who may be too busy to attend their programs at other times, Gwebu said.

"Any opportunity we can get to get our material in front of them is, hopefully, a chance that they'll follow up and make an appointment with us to make a budget or meet with the Academic Success Center one-on-one," she said.

Gwebu is looking to expand the presentations, which are offered in summer, fall and spring sessions. Contact her at or 294-0677 to discuss adding programs.