Faculty Focus: Melissa Evans

Melissa Evans, of Rotterdam, New York, has taught or worked in the field of industrial organizational psychology for 15 years. She has held positions as a manager, director of human resources, organizational psychologist for the state of South Dakota, psychology professor, researcher, and academic advisor. She has been teaching for Excelsior since August 2017 and in that time, she has consistently supported her students on their educational journey and made herself available to them in times of need. Students not only enjoy constant interaction in Evans’s courses, but also can be sure their work-life balance needs are understood.

Evans currently teaches PSY 101 Introduction to Psychology I, PSY 220 Psychology of Personality, and PSY 364 Industrial Organizational Psychology, and previously taught PSY363: Psychology of Strategic Sales and PSY381: Advanced Psychology of Strategic Sales. In her courses, Evans is always in communication with students and adjusts her teaching to fit the learning styles of her students. “When you get to know student likes, dislikes, and career goals, one can really alter a course to best fit student needs for career growth,” she says. She creates personalized videos that provide in-depth information about the week ahead and tie back to student posts. She says it lets the students know she’s been reading and following their assignments and understands their concerns. Evans also makes sure to check in on students who are facing hardships outside the classroom. In fact, in a past course, while she was up at midnight with her baby, Evans had an email exchange with a panicked student to ease their concerns.

Evans includes podcasts and TED Talks in her courses, which she says really allow students to further grasp the material covered. She says the “create your own company” project in the strategic sales course was a creative way to get students involved in sales and marketing. “You see their idea bloom into something with depth when I begin to ask further about their company ideas,” she says.

Prior to earning her PhD, Evans wasn’t aware you could pursue a degree fully online while also still working and maintaining family life. She discovered the “true work-life balance” when she completed her PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Capella University online while being able to work, travel, and learn simultaneously. Because she earned a degree online, she understands the work that goes into online learning and the skills needed to succeed.

She says time management is the biggest skill students should acquire to thrive at Excelsior. “Know your due dates, ask questions when you need clarification, and always send in high quality work prior to deadlines,” Evans says. She suggests students keep a calendar on their cell phone that notifies them of assignments, projects, etc. that are due within the next few days. “The setup of the calendar took some time, but it kept my assignments in the forefront of my mind,” she recalls.

Evans favorite part about teaching at Excelsior is the students. “The students are absolutely amazing. They are passionate about their work and it shows,” she says. She also adds that Excelsior faculty truly want students to succeed. Reaching out to course instructors is a beneficial way to learn more about them and the school, and is a great way to network.

When she isn’t teaching, Evans is camping, traveling, doing yoga or belly dancing, volunteering, gardening, or spending time with her spouse and 2-year-old daughter. That’s the other thing she loves about Excelsior: the flexibility of being home with her daughter. “I’m truly living my work-life balance dream,” she says.


More from Melissa Evans

Best podcast, book, or magazine related to area of expertise:

“I always go to SIOP [Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology] website or SHRM [Society for Human Resource Management] for my need-to-know information.”

Best piece of advice related to area of expertise:

“Be open to change and actively listen. While working in HR, so many people believed they weren’t actually heard, [but] actively listening gave employees that opportunity to be heard.”

Job hunting tips for students:

“Network, network, network. Tell people you’re looking for a job, have your business card with you at all times, and go to events that are being held in your career field. Case in point, if you want to be a nurse at a particular hospital and you hear the hospital is hosting a fundraising event, you should go, mingle, and network.”