Teaching Philosophy

My teaching goal is to help students learn to value lifelong learning, live ethical lives, and have productive careers. Teaching is not a one-way delivery of knowledge, but instead an interactive process between both the student and the teacher that requires adapting to shifting viewpoints and lifestyles, content delivery, and student input. It is about how I can best help my students learn course content, and processes such as critical thinking, writing, and problem solving skills.

It is my belief that teaching is an opportunity to inspire and empower students with the knowledge and drive to reflect on complex and conflicting issues from a variety of perspectives. This entails learning how to distinguish facts from opinions, analyzing cultural assumptions while respecting diversity, and to put their own ideas, beliefs, and experiences in perspective of society as a whole. Encouraging students to feel personally engaged in their learning and to be changed by their academic participation is the foundation of each course that I teach.

Touchscreen InterfaceI feel that this teaching philosophy will provide my students with skills that will aide them in their personal life, professional careers, and help prepare them to live and work in today’s multicultural society. The demographics of each school and students within a course can vary widely and I have found that my goals and expectations for student learning are more attainable when I address the diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and characteristics of the students. To do so, I make adjustments in my teaching style and assist students in understanding the teaching strategies being used. For example, one semester a number of students enrolled in my web based College Success course had just recently completed face-to-face remedial reading courses. The students expressed concern that they were having difficulty staying engaged with the online course and their work demonstrated that they were having difficulties applying concepts to critical thinking topics. I created podcasts to facilitate their understanding of the text content and enhanced the online lessons by interspersing short interactive self assessments/games directly within the online lesson documents.

Through patience, humor, and encouragement, I continually strive to teach my students that they are capable of much more than they realize. I set high standards that require students to apply course related content to their situations and experiences, apply critical thinking, and write to the best of their abilities. Respect, fairness, and high expectations are clearly conveyed to my students and are supported by the design of my courses. Every effort is made to structure my courses such that they provide students the support necessary to succeed in learning the objectives of the course, as well as the skills needed in order to be fully engaged with their peers. Some of the ways used to provide this support is through helping my students learn study and time management skills, creating clear assignment and grading criteria, and providing supplemental resources.

In addition, I foster an open and encouraging relationship, provide students with personal examples of how I have become a successful learner, and numerous opportunities to share and learn from one another. Students often find their personal, cultural, and social beliefs challenged as they enter higher education. Therefore, I work to create a learning community which is supportive and encourages collaborative inquiry. Students are asked to collaborate, interact, and encourage each other through various activities such as group papers, projects, and discussions. Through these collaborative activities, students are provided opportunities to share and reflect on conflicting viewpoints, gauge their responses to their peers, and learn from their fellow classmates’ experiences.

Diverse university students in a classroom

I constantly model acceptance of diverse opinions, deep reflection, and learning as a continuing journey. I teach far past the confines of a semester. For example, I have several students who still stop by, email, or call to obtain guidance, support, and information as they move through their academic endeavors and beyond. I find that planning for diversity in my teaching is best addressed when I take into account that students preferred learning and teaching styles are affected by their culture, history, and academic experiences. My weekly class format is varied depending upon the subject but generally includes a PowerPoint presentation or other multimedia, collaborative discussions on critical thinking topic questions, self assessment quiz, and an individual assignment.

Students must of course ultimately take responsibility for their own learning but I find it helpful to conduct pre-assessments to ascertain their knowledge and learning preferences. My personal research and learning about the students has helped me to (re)consider ways of making course material relevant, fostering critical thinking skills, and identify inclusive approaches that I might incorporate while still adhering to our contract, the course syllabus.

To address diverse learning preferences and increase student engagement, I provide multimedia as well as text when presenting information online. In addition, assessments methods are always diverse and encompass independent assignments, quizzes, tests, essays, and critical thinking discussion topics are integrated into all my courses. I have found that providing the multiple attempt self-assessment assignments in which questions are drawn from large question pools are particularly effective in my courses. Because each self-assessment attempt generates different questions and students typically will continue to take a self-assessment until they obtain a high B or an A, the students end up staying engaged and learning more than they might from just a one attempt quiz.

I believe that my willingness to adapt teaching strategies according to the needs of learners, subject matter, and student demographics are all critical for my ability to be successful as a teacher. I have also found that creating assignments which directly relate to the student’s personal life can facilitate their learning the material and understanding its application. One assignment that my Computer Literacy students particularly enjoy is the Excel project What Can You Afford For a Car? in which students create a spreadsheet, with related formulas, for determining the monthly payment on a car.

While a course’s objectives, student assessment methods, and assessment weights may be identified by the department syllabus, my teaching philosophy serves to inform my practice. I actively encourage dialogue with students during office hours, by appointment, telephone and email. Additionally, I regularly strive to improve my teaching and course design by implementing mid-course evaluation, regularly seeking student feedback, talking with peers, attending teaching seminars, and experimenting with new technology. My goal is always centered on optimizing student engagement and success.