I have a proven track record of development and delivery of a wide range of courses in higher education. I also have excellent presentation skills and am very adept at communicating difficult to understand concepts in a way that makes it easy for others to understand.
Research Informed Instruction and Innovation
Staying on top of my field and keeping abreast of new knowledge and developments is of utmost importance to me. Communicating this knowledge using innovative techniques is a large part of my responsibility as an educator and academician.
In the classroom, I have always strived to communicate information to others that reflect current discoveries in science blended with the background of traditional knowledge. To convey this information, I like to use “hands-on” in-class demonstrations of concepts in science such as having students engage in very simple experiments, take short online quizzes using their phones/tablets, engage in debates, etc. This “tangibility” enhances the learning of new material and its integration with existing conceptual knowledge. I am also keen on dialogue and interaction with students during a lecture for the same reason. This style of instruction has always been reflected in positive student evaluations of my teaching.
I have taught 18 different courses since I first taught in graduate school some 20 years ago. Although the bulk of this teaching has been in the areas of introductory, biological, and cognitive psychology, I also have experience teaching personality, social, and cultural psychology. I guess one could argue that I’ve evolved somewhat into a “generalist,” and not necessarily by choice but by circumstance. That said, I am happy with this outcome.
Although the bulk of my teaching has occurred at the undergraduate level, I have also taught several graduate classes to include biological psychology and research methods. I also have experience in designing new courses and adding to the curriculum (Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience) as well as serving as faculty coordinator for large courses with many sections (Faculty Coordinator Introduction to Psychology).
Commitment to Student-Centered Learning
Putting student interests first has been a guiding principle of mine ever since giving my first lecture. For example, in my teaching, I have always solicited feedback from learners regarding what works well for them and areas of psychology that they are interested in learning. While lecturing, I will typically pause after explaining a concept and solicit comments from students to generate class discussion, collaboration, and critical thinking/assimilation of the material. This method has been particularly effective with non-traditional learners as they feel respected for the life experience that they bring to class. It is especially gratifying for me to engage them in the educational process and to learn from their experiences.
Information Technology and Learning
I have always placed a high degree of value on the use of modern technology to facilitate and enhance the transfer of knowledge. I also realize that this technology is merely a tool to aid in the learning process – much as special effects in a movie should aid in the telling of the story. With that said, my style of lecture delivery is to use a tablet with a stylus (Microsoft Surface Pro) connected wirelessly to a projector, allowing me to walk around with the tablet in hand. I use PowerPoint to show the lecture outline and typically draw on the slides during lecture much as one would do using a traditional chalkboard or whiteboard. I typically post my lecture outlines online at the beginning of the term, so students have access to this material ahead of the class. I also like to quickly assess student learning during or at the end of a class using Socrative – an online assessment tool.
As we are living in an age of globalism and multiculturalism, I find it especially important to bring in elements of cultural competency to the courses I teach – even biological psychology. I also like to gently challenge some of the stereotypes my students may have about ageism, gender, ethnicity, social class, and culture. Having lived in four different countries and experienced/taught many people from all walks of life, I feel like I am especially well-suited to do this. My desire is that the students I teach will incorporate these lessons into their everyday lives and pass them on to others in a respectful way.
My desire for every one of my students at the end of the semester is that they have had at least a few “aha” moments during the term. My overarching goal for every lecture is to keep them engaged and immersed in the subject matter. I have developed a variety of methods over the years to maximize the likelihood of this. The driving force behind all of these methods, though, is adherence to “The Fifth Commandment” of master teacher, Professor Emeritus, Charles L. Brewer of Furman University. He states, “If you are not passionate about what you are doing, your students will not be passionate about what you want them to do. I firmly believe that passion is the cardinal component that distinguishes adequate from exceptional teachers.” I have been an adherent of this maxim since the first day I stepped into a classroom, some 20 years ago, and, it is because of this maxim that I hope the world will be a little bit better – because I made a difference to my students.