Dena Kniess earned her bachelor's degree in English-Writing and her master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Slippery Rock University. Before earning her doctorate from Clemson University, she worked as a student affairs practitioner in residence life and student transition programs for more than a decade.
Kniess now works as an associate professor in the department of counseling, higher education and speech-language pathology at the University of West Georgia (UWG) and program coordinator for the M.Ed. degree in College Student Affairs. Additionally, she is pursuing a Graduate Certificate Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies at the University of Georgia’s Mary Frances Early College of Education.
Kniess chose UGA because of the program’s positive reputation. “The interdisciplinary qualitative research program is one of the oldest in the U.S. and the faculty are nationally known for their expertise in qualitative research and teaching courses online,” Kniess said.
Kniess enrolled in the program to further her knowledge of qualitative research and to improve her ability to teach qualitative research courses. “I've really enjoyed the variety of courses on qualitative methodologies—narrative inquiry is one example, and the focus on qualitative traditions and analyzing qualitative data,” Kniess said.
For anyone interested in the online program, Kniess suggests being self-motivated and a self-starter. “Take advantage of the drop-in hours from the faculty,” she said.
According to Kniess, the courses in the graduate certificate program have improved her ability to design qualitative research studies and analyze qualitative data.
She hopes to continue teaching and use the skills she has gained from the program to teach qualitative courses at UWG.