Pflueger proves class expectations can change

Nancy Preteau

Nancy Preteau

How many classes have students attended where the professor will walk in wearing a graduation cap and gown? Not many, right?

Unless, of course, that student has taken taken mastering lifetime learning skills with Cheryl Pflueger.

She may not be the professor teaching the class but her class clearly reflects her personality!

The first day of class, Pflueger shows up wearing her famed graduation cap and gown. Before class begins she busies herself with paper work and writing things on the board, to purposely avoid making eye contact with her students.

She wants to get a reaction out of her students, and in some ways, intimidate them.

Once class starts Pflueger proceeds to pass out the syllabus and a note card for the general personal information. Along with the usual name and address information she also asks what the students have heard about the class.

Then she asks them information about herself; how old is she, her favorite color, etc. The purpose of this is to find out what expectations students hold coming into the class.

“Did you expect me to be wearing this gown? No? Well, how about this?”

She proceeds to take off her previous ensemble to reveal her favorite bathrobe and soon enough, sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Her point is to prove that your expectations change based on what you observe, which in most cases can hold you back in life.

For instance, Pflueger hated history throughout her years in school – but was forced to take it in order to graduate college. She procrastinated until second semester of her senior year to take it.

Of course, she expected it to be awful and downright terrible, which in turn, caused the class to be dreadful for her.

Pflueger knows she cannot change a student’s state of mind, but hopes to influence everyone to lose their expectations. This holds true for not only her class, but also in the real world.

Ideally, she would like to students to be open to new ideas and explore their own lifestyles.

All of the activities and demonstrations she does in class serve a purpose, including wearing a purple wig to class.

“I want to get students’ minds working and keep them constantly thinking,” Pflueger said.

Pflueger has been a resident of South Dakota since 1985. She came to SDSU to finish her Master’s degree while her husband finished his doctoral degree and attained a job teaching at SDSU.

In 1987, Pflueger was approached to try and teach a new class at SDSU.

That year, mastering lifetime learning skills began as just a trial class but has evolved into much more.

All those who teach the class share ideas that work well and then add their own personality touch to it.

One part of the class is learning about your own learning styles.

Pflueger wants to help all students learn so she tries to use all different methods of learning in each lesson.

Methods include those who learn by hands-on, those who want to apply it to the outside world, those who just want the straight facts and those who want to know why they have to learn a certain thing.

Pflueger admits she likes to see the reactions on students’ faces when she unleashes a new surprise on them.

Students have told her they have increased their test scores and established themselves a set schedule with the help of her class, which is what she has been aiming for.

Pflueger obviously cannot force them to change their ways, but she encourages them a great deal and sees herself as more of a facilitator than anything.

For Pflueger, wearing the cap and gown has been part of her class since the beginning.

She has added more twists to the class, however, as the years have gone on, such as the purple wig.

In the class, students keep track of their own grades. This helps them learn more responsibility for their scores. Also, one of the first things they discuss in class is the issue of procrastination.

“Once students get back from break, they have a hard time getting back into the swing of things,” Pflueger said. “I’d like to help them with that.”

Another topic discussed in class is communication and interacting with others, professors mainly.

Pflueger wishes to encourage students to build relationships with faculty as these can be helpful in the future.

Overall Pflueger’s goal is to help students get the absolute most out of their time and education here at SDSU.

This includes achieving good grades and maintaining positive relationships with others on campus.