COM Employees of the Month
Position: Assistant Professor of English
Years of Service: 3
Targeting writing, research and rhetoric, English 1301 and 1302 in many ways encompass the entirety of what a student needs to succeed in college – and in life.
To cultivate these essential skills, COM English professor Dalel Serda doesn’t lecture.
Instead the professor, who formerly taught English in Japan, in Korea and at Sam Rayburn High School, sits her students in a circle and encourages them to ask and answer their own questions.
“They are required to come with five questions to class. It becomes very engaging,” said Dalel.
“The idea is to get students to learn in question form. The whole end game is coming up with a question no one has come up with prior and arriving at answers to questions.”
Besides discussion, students answer their questions in original research, consuming most of the semester.
“It’s a portfolio-based class so they can revise all semester long,” said Dalel. “It’s a very collaborative process and in the end they understand college-level reading, writing and research.”
She crafted her methods while a graduate student teaching at University of Texas–Pan American in Edinburgh, Texas. The inquiry-based style is still used in classes there.
"I brought it here not knowing if it would work in a community college. It did.”
She wanted her students to be able to showcase their work outside of class. In 2013 she began the COM Symposium with Dr. Veronica Sanchez to fulfill that need.
“They leave with a sense of ownership of their work. The students feel like real scholars.”
She also encourages academic excellence as co-advisor of COM’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national community college honor society, with Dr. Heather Brasher and Dr. Chris Allen.
She occasionally has coffee with a student now succeeding in a university, including the University of Houston – Clear Lake and Stanford University.
In her spare time, she enjoys jetting with her husband, whom she met in Japan, to far-flung places. Prior trips include Paris, Tanzania and Kenya, where she and her husband worked at an orphanage and she kept a travel blog.
“I always kind of wanted to work with the underdog, whether kids in an orphanage or students who can’t attend university right away.”