Courses Taught

Teaching Philosophy

In my teaching, I envision my relationship with students as a coach. This approach puts me on the same team with students where we are focused on the same goal: student learning and success. To put this philosophy into practice, I:

  • Set high standards for student performance and communicate them clearly to students.
  • Motivate students to perform at their highest level by cheering their efforts and celebrating their successes.
  • Provide a framework for students to wrestle with intellectual and theoretical questions and to produce written products on a schedule.
  • Give students timely and accurate feedback about their performance and what they can do to improve.
  • Teach students skills, strategies, and tools to succeed in my courses, at the university, and in their future careers.
  • Model the behaviors I want students to adopt, use examples from my own scholarship to illustrate intellectual or writing problems, and reveal my own challenges as a scholar and writer.

These practices are reflected in concrete ways in the syllabus, assignments, and classroom. I design assignments that engage students in thinking critically, reading for deeper meaning, putting together logical arguments, and writing persuasively. Every graded assignment includes a due date, a deadline for feedback on drafts, and specific criteria for evaluating student performance. Beyond providing structure in the form of clear expectations and deadlines for completing projects, I insist that students think through intellectual questions on their own. At times, I intentionally create confusion or uncertainty on the part of students rather than giving them answers so that they wrestle with theoretical questions and develop the skills required for making theoretical breakthroughs.

In the classroom, I provide opportunities for students to practice the skills required to succeed in their graded work. I explicitly connect the course content and skills the students are using to knowledge, strategies, and tools that will be useful to them in their future careers. I strive to create a dynamic learning environment where students engage in discussion, analyze texts, think things through, and work in small groups on activities designed to practice skills and strategies. In large-enrollment (165 students) undergraduate courses (even those taught without a teaching assistant), I limit lecture to no more than 80 percent of class time with the rest dedicated to critical thinking activities, discussion, and team-based learning. I develop in-class assignments that students complete in assigned groups to give them opportunities to discuss concepts and issues with their peers and to receive immediate feedback on the quality of their thinking by sharing with the larger class. In smaller undergraduate courses, lecture comprises no more than 50 percent of class time with the majority dedicated to discussion focused on the reading. In graduate seminars, students take a leading role in developing discussion questions, leading discussions, and presenting their research while I serve as a facilitator.

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