The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has selected outstanding University faculty members to receive the 2018 Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The 17 recipients, who represent all 16 of North Carolina’s public universities as well as the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, were nominated by special committees based on their home campuses and were selected by the Board of Governors’ Committee on Personnel and Tenure.
“These instructors we recognized bring innovative and creative teaching methods and approaches which make a real difference in how students learn,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair Lou Bissette said. “We’re proud to highlight their accomplishments in the classroom to further showcase the high-quality education students are receiving throughout the UNC System.”
- Joseph J. Gonzalez, Appalachian State University
- Jami Rhodes, East Carolina University
- Margery M. Coulson-Clark, Elizabeth City State University
- Stacye A. Blount, Fayetteville State University
- Radiah C. Minor, North Carolina A&T State University
- Donna M. Grant, North Carolina Central University
- Melissa A. Pasquinelli, North Carolina State University
- Bert E. Holmes, UNC Asheville
- Jason Metcalfe, UNC-Chapel Hill
- Michèle Bissière, UNC Charlotte
- Mike Perko, UNC Greensboro
- Holden Hansen, UNC Pembroke
- Susan M. Sinclair, UNC Wilmington
- Howard C. Jones, UNC School of the Arts
- Laura Wright, Western Carolina University
- Cynthia S. Bell, Winston-Salem State University
- Amy L. Sheck, NC School of Science and Mathematics
Appalachian State University
Joseph J. Gonzalez
I teach in a variety of courses in the Department of Cultural, Gender, and Global Studies. More precisely, I teach regularly in Global Studies (GLS), Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS), and Watauga Residential College (WRC); I teach majors, as well as those seeking General Education credit.
Philosophy of Teaching
Scope of Teaching Responsibilities
I teach in a variety of courses in the Department of Cultural, Gender, and Global Studies. More precisely, I teach regularly in Global Studies (GLS), Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS), and Watauga Residential College (WRC); I teach majors, as well as those seeking General Education credit. For GLS, I teach “GLS 2000: Contemporary Global Issues,” which carries General Education Credit; “GLS 3000: Critical Perspectives on Global Studies,” a seminar intended only for majors, and “GLS 3020: Cuba Libre: Perspectives on the Cuban Revolution,” intended for GLS and Sustainable Development majors, which also carries General Education credit. For IDS, I teach “IDS 2001: Interdisciplinary Connections I,” designed exclusively for those who will design their own concentrations. I have also taught a variety of courses in WRC since arriving at Appalachian in 2003: Next semester, I will teach a historical studies course, and in Fall 2018 1 will return to teaching in the WRC Core, a six-hour commitment. Finally, I am committed to continuing to develop my study-abroad course (taught in Cuba in odd number years), titled “El Plato Cubano: Cuba Through the Prism of Food,” taught in conjunction with Emily Daughtridge’s course on Cuban dance.
Teaching Philosophy: My Development as a Teacher
Teaching is about learning—both for the students and for me. When I teach, I learn as much as my students; I just learn different things. By far the most important lesson I have learned from my colleagues and students is this: The person who does the work does the learning. I did not always believe this to be true. When I began teaching as an advanced graduate student, I did the work, meaning I did the thinking, for my students, shoveling information in their direction without much intention or interruption. To be sure, my lectures were clear, my reading lists full of essential texts. But when exam time arrived, however, I did little more than ask my students to tell me what I had already told them-much as my mentors had asked me.
I am not sure what my students learned in those early classes, and I am not sure that I cared. Teaching was my concern, after all, not learning: My job was to deliver content, and students would learn, or not learn, according to their abilities.
That said, I suspected that something was wrong with my practice even then— because my students were not engaged. Yes, they took notes and even asked a question once in a while, but the more I talked, the more their attentions drifted to their computers and (once they became common) their cell phones. They looked like students, and even acted like students, but they were not learning like students. This realization spurred my first serious experiment with pedagogy, a course on the Civil Rights Movement that combined a three-credit academic course with a one credit trip around the South during spring break to interview people involved in the movement. Those courses were, I am happy to say, memorable and even successful combinations of academic and experiential learning, recognized by my university and even some media outlets. That said, I remained a complacent as a teacher. Looking back, I now see a young scholar flush with some initial success with student engagement, who also thought too much of his skills and understanding of engaged pedagogies.
Watauga Residential College shocked me out of my complacency. When I arrived at Appalachian in 2003, Watauga was a sort of “anything goes” environment— anything, that is, except complacency—and I soon learned that both my colleagues and my students expected me to provide an environment that put student learning first. Wataugans, for example, did not respond to lectures; instead, discussion was the order of the day, with questions valued more than answers. Over the course of several semesters, I learned how to structure my classes around questions, both mine and (eventually) theirs, and my classes became spaces where students pursued their own curiosities under my mentorship, as opposed to reciting my lectures. It took much trial, and even more error, but as my students engaged with their ideas, their work improved–and I discovered that my pedagogy could stimulate, or retard, student learning.
This realization pushed me to learn more, and pedagogy became one of my principal interests. I began attending teaching conferences, such as the International Lilly Conference on College Teaching, where I learned another lesson: Inquiry alone is not enough; no one pedagogy can provoke “deep learning,” in which students demonstrate an ability to apply what they have learned in one course to different, unfamiliar situations. Eventually, I came to think of my self as the “designer” of learning experiences, one who, by blending an array of pedagogic strategies, creates an environment where deep learning takes place. In this perspective, I have been influenced by Ken Bain (What the Best College Teachers Do), John Tagg (The Learning Paradigm College), and Dee Fink (Creating Significant Learning Experiences).
I now teach a variety of courses in Global Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Watauga, and the Honors College. I have also taught two seminars in Cuba, my principal area of research. Whatever the course, whatever the location, my intention remains the same, and if you come by, you will see my students talking to each other, usually in groups, working on problems, sharing their research, or discussing the reading. You might also see me lecturing, introducing topics or clarifying points. That said, the assigned reading serves as the foundation for each class session; before class my students will have answered questions about the reading on AsULearn, so that in class we can spend our class time on higher-order thinking. I intervene where necessary to answer questions, clarify points, and provide content. Thanks to this “inverted classroom,” my students now work with more care and passion, while exhibiting a mindset that values critical thinking, complexity, and context.
In the last few years, I have begun to share the fruits of my learning, contributing to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) in peer-reviewed publications. As my curriculum vita indicates, I published an article about Inquiry-Based Learning five years ago. Another piece that explores the limits of the “inverted classroom” will come out later next year. In addition, I am now working on a manuscript that discusses how to challenge students’ mindsets about learning for Faculty Focus, an online pedagogy newsletter. I intend that this will later become a peer-reviewed publication. I have also published articles concerning my pedagogy in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Journal of American History.
In short, during my time at Appalachian, I have moved from unreflective presenter to reflective practitioner—and scholar of pedagogy. In making this transition, I have learned as much from my students, my faculty colleagues, and other scholars engaged in the field of teaching and learning. Perhaps most fundamentally, I have learned that teaching is not lea rning. Learning requires design; learning requires we faculty to create environments of challenge and support; learning requires that students have the opportunity to struggle—and, eventually, succeed. I await the insights the next phase of my career will bring.
At the heart of all my courses is inquiry. Students need to work with knowledge, much as scholars do, in order to be engaged. What does this mean? First, it means that students must read. In my courses, students come to class having read, and in order to “encourage” them to do this, I require them answer questions about the reading on AsULearn. In class, we then turn our attention to higher order thinking: Students work in groups to apply or critique concepts from the readings. Just as often place they place the reading in the context of what they have already learned. Admittedly, these online assignments take time for me to grade (before class), but at the same time this practice frees me from the twin tyrannies of lecturing and ‘covering” content without interruption. Instead, in class I move from group to group, clarifying points, answering questions, and offering feedback. Before students submit their answers (again on AsULearn), we discuss the material, and I can see what they understand–and more important what they still do not, adjusting my plan for class accordingly. I do lecture, often at the beginning to introduce material, during class to clarify and reinforce, and at the conclusion to bring closure to the class. Later in the semester, I move students toward research projects, either collaborative or individual. In courses for majors, I favor research papers and presentations; in GLS 2000, a much bigger class, I favor collaborative projects that have some real world consequences, such as designing a non-profit organization intended to address a global issue.
Evaluating, Improving, and Enhancing My Teaching
First, I look to my students. They tell me—in ways obvious and subtle—whether or not something works. Truth be told, some of my best pedagogic ideas have come from my students, and I read their evaluations carefully. Second, I will continue attending pedagogic conferences, such as Lilly, the Teaching Professor, or the ISSOTL (International for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning), as well as workshops sponsored by the Center for Academic Excellence (CAE). Just as important, I will continue to publish. I have two new projects in the works: An article on challenging students fixed mindsets in the classroom; and an article about my short-term study abroad program in Cuba, in conjunction with Kate Johnson, Associate Director for Student Learning and Civic Engagement, who went with me to Cuba this past summer. This article will situate our program within the best practices of study abroad program.
Future Teaching Goals
In addition to continuing to write about pedagogy, and attend conferences, I intend to develop my study abroad program further integrating the academic and the experiential more fully, with Emily Daughtridge’s course on dance. I also want to teach a course on democracy. Though more in my area of interest than expertise, I am disturbed by recent studies that younger people are losing faith in democracy. A significant percentage of them, in fact, no longer consider it important to live within a democracy. For my part, I want students to learn how to care for democratic institutions and to involve themselves more fully, and with greater satisfaction, in democratic rituals. I will develop just such a course for the Watauga Residential College next year.
East Carolina University
The most honest way I can begin to describe my philosophy of teaching is to acknowledge that it is ever evolving as I learn from my students and my own continued growth as a voice scientist/pedagogue, singer, musician, and artist. Pursuing the mastery of a subject and breaking down its complexities into separate parts is a fascinating cycle of learning. …
The most honest way I can begin to describe my philosophy of teaching is to acknowledge that it is ever evolving as I learn from my students and my own continued growth as a voice scientist/pedagogue, singer, musician, and artist. Pursuing the mastery of a subject and breaking down its complexities into separate parts is a fascinating cycle of learning. Two of the first things I say to my graduate vocal pedagogy students is that “there is no one right way to teach something,” and “you can never know too much about your subject matter.” Even amid constant evolution, I do not foresee a future in which these two statements are not at the core of my own teaching.
Students are people and people are individuals who learn and respond differently. A most fulfilling aspect of my work at ECU is the variability of the instruction necessitated by the courses I teach. I teach lecture courses, one-on-one applied voice, and I conduct an ensemble. These are three completely different educational environments that require very different approaches to the subject matter at hand. In a one-onone lesson, it is easy to specifically craft instruction to the student in my office. However, when I am in front of an ensemble of 50-70 singers of various skillsets and vocal backgrounds, I am no less responsible for the individuality of the students in front of me. It is my job to make the information accessible and applicable to whatever students are in my charge, which often means being flexible. In my experience this is aided by two things: 1. You must pay attention to your students. If they are not responding to the material, change something! That is the job. 2. The more you know about your subject matter and the students in your charge, the more flexible (and thereby, successful!) you can be in your methodology.
The process of teaching singers, whether individually or in a group setting, is complicated and can be incredibly personal. At the base level, these students are training muscle coordination through a process not unlike that of a professional athlete. Most of the muscles involved in phonation are not visible or immediately accessible to the student and, depending on the voice type in question, it can take years of training, diligence, and patience to develop the efficient muscular coordination necessary to produce a free and balanced timbre. This task of building technique can be daunting to the young singer who is also pursuing the many other aspects of the art form (stage craft, performance anxiety, musicianship, language study, etc.). Every day, in some capacity, I find myself reassuring students with the knowledge that even when this coordination ‘feels’ vague, uncertain, and/or overwhelming, science has given us rules. There are rules of physics and acoustics. There are rules of anatomy and physiology. All of this provides us with the knowledge we need to diagnose and correct vocal function. It is my goal as a vocal pedagogue to help students gain knowledge and awareness of their anatomy and access to the muscles that control their laryngeal, respiratory, and articulatory function in the most consistent way possible. Beyond that, my job becomes about building their knowledge of physiology and guiding their understanding of the coordination they are pursuing to create confident, professional, flexible musicians.
The tools of my methodology are expansive and regularly based on student needs and response. I have found that technology can be incredibly helpful as a source of feedback for students. I regularly encourage students to record or video themselves for observation. Many, especially those who are visual learners, respond well to spectrograph technology (now available via smart phone app) which provides visual representation of sound. This can be exceptionally helpful with vowel clarity, onset/offset work, resonance, and vibrato. Some students respond well to imagery, especially in the initial stages of muscle discovery. Others respond well to a more kinesthetic approach, which is typically very effective when discussing respiratory function. Vocal modeling (i.e. I model the muscle coordination being executed by the student(s), followed by the desired coordination) is a standard, and perhaps most common, approach used in almost every course and with every student. The common denominator among almost every method, however, is that of follow up questions when the environment permits. Having students rearticulate their understanding of concepts is invaluable to both teacher and student.
It is an incredible gift to teach in a university setting. Most of my students are between the ages of 18-25, a time when they are often beginning to ask the questions and make the choices that will define the musicians, professionals, and people they ultimately become. I consider it my duty to set an incredibly high standard. It is my job to see their potential before they can, and to create the environment of knowledge, honesty, trust, and encouragement that makes that potential a reality.
Elizabeth City State University
Margery M. Coulson-Clark
Elevate higher, emerge stronger! Your place to succeed! Preparing leaders for the 21st Century! Enter to Learn, Depart to Conquer! These are taglines taken to heart when teaching students who will become tomorrow’s decision makers. My teaching philosophy incorporates technology, assessments, interactions, ethical principles, personal development and personal accountability. I am a servant teacher. …
Teaching Goals, Methods and Philosophy
Elevate higher, emerge stronger! Your place to succeed! Preparing leaders for the 21st Century! Enter to Learn, Depart to Conquer! These are taglines taken to heart when teaching students who will become tomorrow’s decision makers. My teaching philosophy incorporates technology, assessments, interactions, ethical principles, personal development and personal accountability. I am a servant teacher. I serve as the “guide on the side, not the sage on the stage.” My goal is to encourage students to face their fears and crisis of confidence, and maximize their academic potential. It is my quest that every student builds a solid foundation for future living. Having students return to my classes after completing graduate or law school to tell me how they have succeeded is what encourages my teaching approach and solidifies my teaching philosophy.
Teaching with Technology
I believe students should be able to utilize the current technology to search for answers on the road to enlightenment, truth and ultimately knowledge. It is not unusual to see students in my class utilizing their phones and IPADs to look up current, salient information. I have incorporated Power Point, Smart Board, on line teaching and Echo 360 to ensure that students have access to teaching and learning with technology. My students learn how to conduct research utilizing online peer reviewed journals and other scholarly online materials. Further, they learn to put together electronic portfolios as part of my State and Local Government class.
Teaching is important, but assessing what students know to succeed in graduate school is even more important. Students are expected to write short (2-5 pages), mid length (4-6 pages) and longer (8-12 pages) research and reaction papers. Students are asked to write in class and outside of class. In addition to the one hour exams, midterms and finals, I utilize the “one minute assessment” in my classes with short on-going quizzes and in class collaboration. These methods provide measurable outcomes where students can graded to have instant feedback. They write the one minute assessment at the end of class to let the faculty know what is clear, what is not clear or what needs further discussion. Further, students are given rubrics for papers and presentations. These assessment methods put some accountability on both the faculty and the students to know up front what outcomes are expected for each assignment. Strong evidence of critical thinking, analysis and evaluation is central to obtaining an “A” in the classes. Students are asked to write but also to present counter arguments when presenting their research.
Interaction is central to learning. I am mindful of different learning styles and teach to each by a combination of interactive styles: question and answers, collaborative projects, analogies, illustrations and role-playing. I will begin a class in Public Administration by saying, “When you become public administrators you will need to know … “, then I will present the material pertinent to the class: budgeting, organization theory, decision-making, ethical principles and whatever else they will need to know.
Students are not just earning a grade; they are planning for a successful future. I believe that students should be able to transfer knowledge obtained in my classes to the understanding and analysis of events and challenges they observe and will face in their future careers.
Ethical Principles, Personal Development and Accountability
Integrity and hard work are rewarded and expected. Ethical behavior is demanded and any deviation is quickly addressed. Students learn early that cheating is not tolerated. Students sign themselves in and the faculty member never has to worry whether student x or y is in class. Students know that quizzes are given the first five minutes of class and exams questions are reviewed the last five minutes. I encourage students to provide structured, factual and objective answers to questions posed in discussions. Another imperative is the innovation and creativity in the learning process. Students are rewarded for finding creative solutions to ongoing public policy problems. Students are also taught to find innovative ways to think about their own success. If a student does poorly on the first assessment, a conference with that student is conducted, a time management schedule is offered, and conversations about long term success become central to our discussion. I believe that teaching students to become great future decision-makers must always remain central to my teaching. It is my desire to leave this world a better place than how I found it. I will do this one student and one class at a time.
Fayetteville State University
Stacye A. Blount
The goal that is foremost for me in the classroom is to foster an environment where students, regardless of background and past experiences, can thrive in an academic setting. I often remind myself that my task in the classroom is not merely to shepherd students through the memorization of concepts and passing of exams, but rather to help them adopt learning strategies that will serve them well throughout their academic careers. …
The goal that is foremost for me in the classroom is to foster an environment where students, regardless of background and past experiences, can thrive in an academic setting. I often remind myself that my task in the classroom is not merely to shepherd students through the memorization of concepts and passing of exams, but rather to help them adopt learning strategies that will serve them well throughout their academic careers. For many students, the content of Sociology (e.g., inequality and economic disadvantage) raises many issues pertinent to the lived experience. Therefore, rather than “preach from the pulpit,” I invite students to be full participants in the direction of lectures as well as in the evolution of class discussions. While I do not relinquish full control of the classroom in terms of presenting materials with sociological precision, I find that teaching is more effective when students feel as though their voices are heard and concerns are addressed in the classroom.
My teaching philosophy is based on the intellectual thoughts of bell hooks, an academician and critical educational theorist. In her book, Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope (2003:161), hooks proposes that “when as teachers we teach with love, combining care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust, we are often able to enter the classroom and go straight to the heart of the matter. That means having the clarity to know what to do on any given day to create the best climate for learning.” I deem it important to incorporate these attributes because they have the power to create an optimal learning environment. Perhaps learning can take place without them; however, it has been my experience that a warm learning environment produces an atmosphere where students feel secure and comfortable as they develop their intellectual selves.
While I certainly promote and attempt to help students use active learning skills, I am also an advocate of the use of reflective thinking in this process. In other words, I expect students to be active and deliberate in their thinking as well as allow other intellectual sources to shape their minds. Students can combine the use of reflective and active thinking by participating in lecture, discussions, and writing assignments that invite them to apply concepts learned in the classroom. The integration of reflective and active thinking allows for a richer, more substantive learning experience. The infusion of these cognitive experiences is enhanced by an interactive teaching style that encompasses group activities and/or collaborative learning exercises. This diverse teaching framework demonstrates my commitment to addressing the different learning styles of students. For example, I discovered that the use of popular films as a platform for the application of sociological concepts is a successful tool in cultivating active and reflective thinking processes of students.
I am convinced that professors should strive to equip students with the tools and knowledge necessary to become successful employees, engaged community members, accountable citizens, and tolerant and compassionate individuals who possess a sense of social responsibility. While the classroom environment is an integral entity in this process, I am convinced that optimal achievement of this development is obtained through a commitment to civic engagement. The connection between students and community allows for a reciprocal relationship in which service reinforces and strengthens learning and learning reinforces and strengthens service. I am persuaded that engagement of students in the community promotes a concern about social issues that motivates them to be active contributors to solutions for challenges in society.
Realizing that teaching is a progressive and evolutionary activity, I support the thought that instructional development should be relatively malleable. This malleability means considering “who” is in your classroom. Of course, in the university community, we are called upon to deal with multiple levels of diversity and intersectionality (e.g., race, social class, gender, age, sexual orientation) among our students. Thus, at the heart of my teaching is a focus on how I can best meet the educational needs of my students given the actual composition of the class. To meet this goal, I adopted and adapted core values espoused by the Association of African American Educators (AAAE 2006). While the AAAE primarily researches and addresses issues related to learning among African American students, its principles can be generalized to all students. Among the numerous core values espoused by the AAAE, those values that are most central to my teaching are: 1) Students thrive in a climate of encouragement, nurturance, and trust; 2) It is important that instructors consider the prior experience of students; 3) It is important that instructors are sensitive to the cultural traditions of all students; 4) All students must be given an equal opportunity to learn, accomplished with well-prepared educators and quality instructional materials; and 5) Instructors should realize that students have a different way of “knowing,” which necessitates flexibility in the presentation and discussion of material (AAAE 2006). My personal adoption of these principles guides me in the preparation of lectures as well as in my interactions with students. Not only do these guiding values help me place emphasis on how I teach, but I also feel that I have seen results. My students report to me in evaluations and in-person that their learning is increased under my instruction (see student testimonials and student evaluation comments).
Pedagogical Methods and Instructional Technologies
During my tenure at Fayetteville State University, I have taught the following courses: Principles of Sociology, Social Stratification, Race and Ethnic Relations, Social Problems, Sociology of Health, Social Change, Collective Behavior and Social Movements, Sociological Seminar, and Ethics and Civic Engagement in Action. I employ the following pedagogical strategies in the classroom: lecture, discussion, writing assignments, and the use of film, novels, and non-fiction. The teaching sociology literature suggests that the incorporation of films, fiction, and non-fiction in the classroom provides students the opportunity to examine lives of characters using the sociological perspective. Students are required to complete discussion preparation assignments in which they are expected to connect sociological concepts and theories to content included in film and books. Books used in courses include The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Playground, Who Asked You?,Living and Dying in Brick City: Stories from the Front Lines of an Inner-City ER, Buck, Queen Sugar, and Hidden Figures. I have used many popular movies and documentaries in class. I employed iClicker technology in the classroom for two academic years. I am an avid user of many features in the Canvas Learning Management System. Positive evaluations from students suggest that they believe that the courses contribute to their learning.
Since the 2012-2013 academic year, a Supplemental Instruction (SI) Peer Instruction Leader has been assigned to the Principles of Sociology classes taught by me. Supplemental Instruction is a student-driven academic assistance program that improves academic performance by employing collaborative learning strategies. This instructional strategy has been beneficial to students enrolled in my classes.
Service Learning Courses
Upon completion of the Ethics and Civic Engagement Fellows training, I began to incorporate a service learning component in some of my courses. As a matter of fact, it was in the ETCE 200 course that I taught in fall semester 2015 and spring 2016 whereby students were engaged in the planning, implementation, and launching of the Campus Kitchen at Fayetteville State University (CKFSU). The students’ work on this project is permanently etched in the history of FSU because the university is the first and [still] only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the United States to have a Campus Kitchen. In addition to serving as a volunteer for various projects associated with CKFSU, service learning students have collaborated with the Bronco Wellness organization and Wellness Ambassadors.
Association of African American Educators. 2006. Core Values and Beliefs.
San Diego: San Diego State University.
hooks, bell. 2003. Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope.
New York: Routledge.
North Carolina A&T State University
Radiah C. Minor
I have always liked school, and as a child I “played school” often. My earliest memory of college/university is as a seven-year-old playing in an empty Boston State College (now U Mass) classroom, while my mother worked as a reading tutor for freshman students. I loved writing on the chalk board and sitting at the desks (especially the ones that had doodles etched in them).
I have always liked school, and as a child I “played school” often. My earliest memory of college/university is as a seven-year-old playing in an empty Boston State College (now U Mass) classroom, while my mother worked as a reading tutor for freshman students. I loved writing on the chalk board and sitting at the desks (especially the ones that had doodles etched in them). I thought to myself these college kids are so cool. When we would walk past Harvard yard in the spring, I would be in awe of the immaculately manicured campus and imagine myself one-day sitting in the shade of a majestic tree studying. Just as I saw those “cool” college kids doing. Those were indelible impressions. I felt as though college was a magical place and one that I wanted to experience. My time as an undergraduate and graduate student were amazing. Although I never studied in the shade of a tree, I greatly enjoyed the intellectual conversations I had with peers and I relished in the constant never ending flow of new knowledge that institutions of higher learning offered. I count it a blessing that I continue to live that dream, and walk onto a university campus every day. The joy and excitement that brings to me is reassuring that I am doing EXACTLY what I am supposed to do.
My goal as a professor is to share my passion and excitement for constant learning. I endeavor to ignite an appreciation for scholarship, promote the value of critical thinking, and inspire students to become life-long learners. To do that, I feel that students must trust and relate to me and see a little bit of themselves in me. On the first day of all my classes I engage students with an ice breaker. Ice breakers, like two truths and a lie or guess who? are fun. They are designed in order that students learn more about me. I am intentional about the facts I share. For example, facts, like I failed medical terminology in college or that I play the drums, make me more relatable. I think that allowing the students to see me as a person that is not so different from them is so important that, this semester I instituted Minor Monday Chat and Chew. This is a once a month opportunity, for any student who wishes, to have lunch with me. Students either enrolled in my courses or assigned to me as advisees have participated and we have used the time to get to know each other better.
“Whether You Think You Can or Can’t, You’re Right.” Henry Ford. The fear of failure, humiliation, or disapproval can severely influence a student’s capacity for learning. What I have come to know of my students, is that they are more than capable of learning and achieving greatness, but some of them are held back because of fear of failure and a lack of exposure. The “stereotype threat” that each student brings into the classroom is a barrier to their success. For learning to occur, there should be an absence of fear in the classroom. In my walk as a professor and advisor I make it a point every day to break through these barriers and show students that the “magic happens” when they step out of there comfort zones. The first lecture of class is typically a motivational lecture that is centered on determining the students’ mindset (fixed or growth). I explain to them that where they are now, is not where they must stay. I encourage them to embrace the attitude that it is not that “you can’t do it, or you don’t know it- it’s that you can’t or don’t know yet”, and that yet is achievable, but dependent on the work that they put in, inside and outside of the classroom. My classrooms are “safe” spaces for students to not just express their understanding of the material but more so to not be afraid to answer or contribute in class discussions because of fear of displaying misunderstanding or unfamiliarity with a subject/technique. I incorporate activities like think-pair-share, a collaborative learning strategy that allows students to work individually and then together to solve problems or answer questions. I also allow students to answer questions anonymously with cell phones using poll everywhere software or by writing answers on a paper, balling them up and throwing them to the front of the classroom (sometimes instructing them to aim at me with the wad of paper). I find that after a few class periods of these activities they trust me and more readily speak up in class.
“A mind is a fire to be kindled, not a vessel to be filled. ” Plutarch. My role as an instructor is not to” pour knowledge into empty vessels” but rather be a facilitator of the learning process. There is a growing body of research stressing that the quality of teaching and learning is improved when a student is engaged in the learning process. The “Cone of Learning” (Figure1) credited to Edgar Dale, posits that retention of content from passive activities such as reading or sitting through a lecture is negligible compared to content retained 2 when students actively engage with material. Although there is some doubt as to the validity of the percentages ascribed to the “cone” there are however, benefits to active and cooperative learning. I incorporate several active and cooperative learning techniques into my courses; including group discussions, case studies, journal article discussions, laboratory experiments and structured dialogue/debates. Teaching is also learning, therefore students in my courses are encouraged to give presentations, directed to “go to the board to draw and or explain”, and while in groups, “teach” their colleagues. Assessments used include, homework, exams, quizzes (group and individual), presentations, reports and literature reviews, and rubrics, adapted from the AA&U, are used to assess oral and written assignments.
In all my courses, students are required to read and present primary journal articles. To increase students’ confidence with reading and understanding primary literature, I’ve developed a worksheet called the “journal dissection grid”. This worksheet instructs students to identify the big picture problem the what I call the “why we should care factor”, the goal and hypothesis of the paper, then summarize the methods and determine the most relevant results and conclusions. It also asks them to identify any unanswered questions or limitations of the study and what experiments might be done as a follow up. I have heard from many undergraduate and graduate students that this exercise increases their comfort with reading journal articles and enhances their understanding the material. The content of the journal articles chosen for each class present “real-world” relevance of the information that is being covered and allows for formative and summative assessment of student learning gains. As an example, in LASC 660 Tech Prep/Immuno/Micro/Rad, students are presented with lectures and videos that cover the theory behind the immunological techniques such as western blotting. We engage in a laboratory exercise where we perform a western blot. We then, as a class read and discuss a primary journal article that uses that technique. Then students are asked to find a paper using that technique and prepare a presentation that focuses on the goal of the paper and the one figure that uses the technique. This is repeated for each of the different techniques covered during the semester. At the end of the semester, students are assessed on their ability to design experiments to a hypothetical hypothesis using the techniques covered in class as well as present and critically evaluate an entire primary journal article that uses at least three of the techniques covered.
Active learning, particularly the “practice by doing”, is especially important for science technology, engineering and math majors. In three of my courses (LASC 461, LASC 462 and LASC 660) the doing is achieved by use of case studies as well as engagement in research or laboratory experimentation. Case studies present content in the context of real world situations and are designed to increase the value and relevance of the content to students. They facilitate reading, discussion, and critical thinking. I use case studies, published by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science or those that I have written. In addition to my university courses, I have used case studies in outreach activities for K-12 students and have presented the impact of these activities. Often the cases are coupled with lab experiments this helps to make concepts clearer but also illustrates how the techniques are relevant to the industry or health field. The hands on lab experimentation component of LASC 660 Tech Prep/Immuno/Micro/Rad was enhanced after I was awarded a capacity building grant from the USDA that allowed us to purchase state of the art laboratory equipment and supplies to provide the students with more relevant and impactful lab experiences.
The “practice by doing” is best demonstrated by the activities in ANSC 619 Special Problems in Animal Health. This is a capstone course where students engage in a research project during the semester. The projects are focused on issues relevant to the production of livestock animals. As part of this course students 3 read primary journal articles to understand what is known on the issues they select. Then students working with a faculty member in the department write a proposal that presents the hypothesis/goals and methods of their selected project, they present the expected results and the role of each group member in the project. Once the data are collected, students prepare a final report and present their work to peers and faculty. During this final presentation they are encouraged to think critically about the data they collected and what improvements or next steps could be done. This course incorporates students into the scientific process in ways that many of them have not experienced before, and seeks to improve their ability to work collaboratively. The students recognize the real-world applications for the knowledge they have gained over their time in the department and develop a greater appreciation for how the information and industry practices they learned in other Animal Science courses like poultry and dairy production are shaped by research.
In (ANSC 701) Topics in Animal Health we focus on discussing contemporary topics that are relevant to animal and human health; such as antibiotic resistance, genetically modified organisms as well as “in the news” topics related to animal and human health, like swine flu and Ebola. To engage students outside of the class and keep them thinking about the topics we are discussing I encourage students to post course relevant “in the news” content to the class Facebook page. Although the topics discussed in the course change from semester to semester, the learning outcomes of the course do not. The course goal to develop good scientific communicators and critical thinkers. As part of this course, in addition to lectures, there is a significant amount of reading, group discussions, writing and presenting primary literature. This semester, in collaboration with Dr. Sims, Psychology professor at Florida A&M University, I have begun to utilize structured dialogue into the course. For each topic, students develop a thesis statement, then they are asked to find evidence (at least three primary journal articles) to support their thesis statement or counter the thesis statement of others. They then prepare presentations and write papers. The most exciting and engaging part of the activity is the dialogue. This is when students stand at the front of the class and defend their statements. This activity has not only encouraged lively conversations and brought stimulating ideas to the class, but it has increased student’s confidence in expressing their ideas, recognizing flaws in their own thinking as well as giving and accepting contrary opinions.
“Teaching consists of causing people to go into situations from which they cannot escape except by thinking.” William Sparke. I strive for my courses to be engaging and fun so in addition to the traditional lecture; I incorporate, cooperative learning techniques, demonstrations, videos, on-line interactive content such as games, and virtual labs. I also incorporate the use of technology (smart phones). One activity, a game I call, “Immuknowledgy”, it is a group activity (quiz) where students get access to content questions by scanning quick response (QR) codes, to make review of material more fun. The students then engage in a scavenger hunt to find envelopes with the answers to the QR code questions. Once they have successfully retrieved the answers, they are given another set of questions that are of higher order. Students are then instructed to work in groups to answer the new questions. They are pushed to relying on their own knowledge to answer the questions, but can use a “lifeline” (notes, computer or ask me) if they like, with each lifeline used costing them points. Here I am encouraging them to (1) see that value in studying outside of class well before the exam, and (2) forcing them teach each other, (3) trust what they know and uncover what they don’t know well before the exam. In addition to course related activities, I have also mentored and advised several undergraduate and graduate student researchers in my lab. My strategy with students working in the research laboratory is to use both the hands on and hands-off approach. I provide my student researchers with training, demonstrations, and guidance in the planning and execution of their experiments. However, because I believe that some of the greatest lessons are also in our failures, I also take a hands-off approach. Letting them make, and attempt to correct their own mistakes. This approach strengthens their learning, independence, critical thinking, and confidence. As part of their growth all my student researchers are encouraged to participate in oral or poster presentations at conferences. A source of pride is that many of these students (undergraduate and graduate) have won accolades for their presentations. 4 “The teachers who get “burned out” are not the ones who are constantly learning, which can be exhilarating, but those who feel they must stay in control and ahead of the students at all times”. Frank Smith. Today’s student can Google it or ask Siri or Alexa and within seconds receive a wealth of information. Consequently, professors are not, I am not, the expert with all the knowledge. What that means to me is that my purpose in the classroom is to present key concepts and facts, yes, but mostly my role (as the expert learner and thinker) is to facilitate the learning and thinking process. I exist to guide students though their discovery and learning process. I am there to help clear up misconceptions and push them to THINK and make connections. One of the best way for me and the students to see what they understand, the connections that they are making and what gaps they still have is through concept mapping. I use concept mapping as an activity in (LASC 462 Principles of Medical Science) to help students make connections between the course content as well as content from other courses or what information they might know through personal experience. This course presents the etiology and pathophysiology of diseases and the goal is for students to understand the many mechanisms for how different disease begin. As part of this course for example we discuss topics including but not limited to genetics, environment, cell signaling, and microorganisms. Through concept mapping the students see that for many diseases there are several factors that can contribute to its induction and progression. They also appreciate how topics they learn in other courses, like the central dogma discussed in biochemistry are relevant to our discussions on disease.
Teaching, like learning, can be a lifelong process that requires consistent and constant evaluation of pedagogical approaches and implementation of new strategies and techniques. I continuously work toward improving course curriculum and implementing new teaching strategies. For example, since 2008 I was a bit frustrated with the quality of the laboratory reports from upper level undergraduate students enrolled in LASC 461 Physiology of Domestic Animals; the abstract and the introduction, often would not state a hypothesis and not clearly label graphs or discuss the results. To help students understand what the parts of a lab report are and how they should be written, my colleagues and I directed an activity whereby the students (in groups) were asked to review with two examples of each part of a lab report (abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion and conclusion). One example was poorly written (based on examples that we had seen in the past) and one example was written well. After allowing for groups to study the examples, while using a guide on writing lab reports that was provided in the syllabus, we then discussed what was wrong with the poorly written report and what the elements were that made the other better. While I did not assess the impact of this activity quantitatively, overall, I, along with my colleague think that the lab reports following this were of much better quality.
“By any Means Necessary”– Malcolm X.
Through all the teaching tools used, I am encouraging students to step further out of their comfort zones challenging them to push themselves to grow personally and intellectually. But I also drive home the point that there are few excuses for not trying or not doing your absolute best to achieve a goal. If you want it, you must do what it takes to get it. I encourage my students and advisees to take an honest accounting of their actions to meet a goal and if they did not meet it what might they do differently to change the outcome. This motto applies to me as well. What I have now come to appreciate is that institutions of higher learning are not “magic”. It takes dedication, hard work and commitment to the teaching and learning process. Moreover, I recognize that these college kids are not so “cool” after all. They are young adults with great gifts and highest potential. All they need is guidance, mentoring and encouragement, to realize their gifts and reach that potential.
So if you are looking for me, perhaps you’ll find me sitting under a shade tree, contemplating impactful ways to continue to motivate and challenge my students in and out of the classroom.
North Carolina Central University
Donna M. Grant
My teaching philosophy is to develop an environment where students can build their portfolio of tools, techniques, and approaches to equip themselves to become successful information technology professionals. As a professor, I teach theoretical concepts integrated with practical experience.
My teaching philosophy is to develop an environment where students can build their portfolio of tools, techniques, and approaches to equip themselves to become successful information technology professionals. As a professor, I teach theoretical concepts integrated with practical experience. In addition to my PhD in Computer Science, I have a Master of Science degree in Information Systems with a concentration in Project Management, an MBA in Finance, and twenty-two years of experience in the Information Technology (IT) industry, including ten years at the director level for Ameritech/AT&T. The topics that are covered in all of my classes include analysis, problem-solving, critical thinking, developing solution strategies with an increased focus on project management, and communication. Through exploration and collaboration with my students, we share experiences and discuss a variety of techniques to implement and manage systems. I truly believe that there is no right answer in the world of information systems, but there is a spectrum of different approaches for systems analysis, design, development, implementation, and management. While working on individual assignments and group projects, I encourage my students to analyze and resolve real world business problems.
In all of my classes, I expose my students to outside IT professionals and external networking opportunities. For example in CIS 4600, CSB 4900, CSB 4910, the senior capstone courses, one of the primary student learning outcomes is the development of a project book for an external client. For example, in Fall 2010 in CIS4600, there were 27 CIS students with four external projects running simultaneously. The projects were identified and established over the 2010 summer break. The external projects were: three projects from the Information Technology Department at Durham County and one project from the Raleigh Durham Airport Authority. Another example was in Spring 2017, a CSB student completed a Service Learning Project with the Fab Lab at NCCU to allow farmers to remotely monitor water volume, water quality and soil moisture and control water devices such as irrigation units and water valves from their smartphone. This is just a sample of the variety of external projects that my students have implemented in their senior capstone class over the last eight years.
The student project teams meet with their clients every two weeks and produce a project book. These meetings are held at the client’s location or NCCU’s School of Business. The book from each team is different but contains some of the following deliverables: the business problem, the project scope and constraints, the four feasibility studies for the project (i.e., financial, technical, operational, and schedule), the project development time and cost, the new business process model, the system requirements, the user interface design, the data design and the data dictionary. At the end of the semester, the students create and conduct an oral presentation to present the results of their systems analysis and design recommendations to their external client organizations, other students, faculty and staff.
The benefits of the external projects are to utilize partnerships to prepare our students for employment; establish networking opportunities with organizations and IT professionals; and for our students to gain the ability to demonstrate their skills and talents. In additional to the external projects, I invite external guest speakers to all of my classes to allow my students to meet and interact with IT professionals who are currently working in the field. I believe these exposures to real world IT experiences will enable my students to enhance their knowledge of IT strategies and operations in the business environment. I want to make a difference in the lives of my students by assisting them to be business-focused IT leaders.
In conclusion, I feel it is my responsibility as a faculty member and a former IT professional to not only teach, but to mentor, encourage, and empower our future IT leaders. While some of my colleagues have inferred that the activities described above are an extraordinary amount of work, I am willing to go above and beyond to help our students prepare for their internships, job searches, graduate school and/or future careers. Working with my students is not just my job and responsibility, it is my passion and destiny. It is not enough for me (us) to just teach our students. I (we) must work together to prepare this next generation of professionals to run (manage) our world. This is an awesome responsibility for our students and for us.
North Carolina State University
Melissa A. Pasquinelli
I was an invited faculty guest at a Goodnight Scholars dinner on 9 November 2017, and one of the students asked what career we imagined as a child and how that relates to who we are today, and the answer for me was easy – a teacher. I spent countless hours throughout my childhood pretending that I was a teacher.
I was an invited faculty guest at a Goodnight Scholars dinner on 9 November 2017, and one of the students asked what career we imagined as a child and how that relates to who we are today, and the answer for me was easy – a teacher. I spent countless hours throughout my childhood pretending that I was a teacher, and was quite attached to my chalkboard (which I still have) that my grandfather rescued from an old schoolhouse; I even tried to teach our dog the ABCs and would assign myself things like term papers just so I could grade them. So, it is no surprise that teaching fuels my drive and is one of my passions, thus is a significant aspect of my career. Despite being an introvert, I am energized by being in the classroom! I also relish the teaching that I do outside of the classroom through being an academic advisor and research advisor to undergraduate and graduate students, by being generally available to students for helping with whatever they may need to grow (including career counseling and life coaching), and also by being a mentor to other university faculty and K-12 teachers. My philosophy on teaching strongly resonates with NC State’s goal of fostering students to “Think and Do.” Below, I highlight examples of my contributions to NC State’s educational mission through some of my favorite quotations.
“The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.” ~ Anatole France
One of the most difficult aspects of teaching is motivating the students to learn and appreciate the material. The enthusiasm that a teacher shows for both teaching and for the course material can stimulate learning and success in students. Most importantly, I try to promote their desire to learn by stressing to the students that I genuinely care about them and their success. The challenge with teaching a traditional course such as engineering thermodynamics is how to spark student curiosity about the material; course evaluations for my first two times teaching TE 303 highlighted that I needed to do a better job in this area. Thus, in Fall 2009, I incorporated an extra credit opportunity where students can post contemporary applications of thermodynamics on the course message board, with two caveats: its relevance to thermodynamics must be explained, and that no two students can get credit for the same topic. I am quite impressed with the quality of posts and the discussions in class that have resulted from students reading other postings. A dramatic improvement transpired in the enthusiasm of the students for the course content, which I attribute to this simple change; the course evaluations were positive, and highlighted that the students got the applicability of thermodynamics in many areas. Former students occasionally send me items that they come across, which always makes me smile that they still remember the course and its relevance in the real world. Students from other majors also seek out my course due to its reputation as being ‘challenging but fun.’
I try to incorporate current research and development, including my own research work, into my courses as much as I can. I have previously taught E101, the Introduction to Engineering course; this course spends a lot of time discussing what engineering is all about and providing them with success strategies to achieve their goals. A big surprise to me was how many students did not really know that there was more to engineering than what the “typical” mechanical, electrical, and civil engineers do. So, I covered everything from molecular level aspects of engineering (my expertise) to large scale, systems level approaches. I think I provided an inspiring perspective to some of the best students; I had some ask me about how to seek out research opportunities in their own programs. I was also one of the faculty who helped to develop the E101 fabric bucket for Engineering Design Day, where the students come up with innovative ideas on how to fabricate a bucket for carrying water using a textile. I also used the Grand Challenges from the National Academy of Engineering as a platform for conveying how the different engineering disciplines can contribute to all 14 of the Grand Challenges; I developed a course assignment where the students, in teams of 3-4, had to identify for a particular Grand Challenge how the assigned
NC State engineering majors can contribute to solving that Grand Challenge. For example, the engineering students realized that my program, textile engineering, is diverse in its potential impact, from filtration for clean water and air to alternative energy sources and even personalized medicine.
“The world is more malleable than you think and it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape.” ~ Bono
Motivating students helps them to realize that they can learn a great deal, and inspiring them can help them to achieve more than they thought possible, thus fostering to their desire to take action. One way that I have done that is through the incorporation of an open-ended (but instructor-guided) team project in TE 303 where the students choose a textile (or paper science or biomedical engineering) manufacturing process and they analyze all of the inputs and outputs and then use course topics and their own creativity to propose ideas for making the process more sustainable; I attended a workshop at Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Sustainable Engineering in July 2009 that assisted with the development of this project, and I have since refined it based on tools that I learned in the NCSU Th!nk workshop from Summer 2016. I have successfully implemented this project for the past eight years, and I feel that it is not only a great way for the students to see how thermodynamics applies to their chosen field, but it also has given the students a different but realistic perspective on problem solving since it is more open-ended, in contrast to the types of problems that are commonly given in technical courses. Some students find the open-ended nature of the problem (or even defining their own problem!) to be challenging, but I continually remind them that is often how problems arise in “the real world.” I also provide a lot of feedback along the way by requiring three phases of drafts (and this year, based on the Th!nk workshop, two peer review cycles and two sets of reflection questions). Feedback from the students has indicated that they learn a lot from this experience, including how inefficient industrial processes are, and how thermodynamics plays a key role in improving efficiencies. From their perspective, many of the proposed changes are obvious, and thus motivates them to want to take action (now and in the future). Former students have told me that this project is one that they have discussed during job interviews as a great learning experience. A graduate who took my class several years ago told me that this project helped him to be more conscientious about identifying problems and inefficiencies in his current job, and also helped him to be more innovative in his problem solving. A group in Fall 2016 worked closely with a company to institute real change in their manufacturing facility, and a 2009 team had contacted the President of the manufacturing company for their project and he expressed how impressed he was with their ideas. A student group from Fall 2010 submitted their project to the 2011 AATCC Materials Research Poster Competition, and won first place in the Industrial/ Technical/ Sports Materials category.
“I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” ~ Socrates
My goals in teaching are not just to promote learning of the subject matter, but also to challenge them and to get them to think critically and creatively. While the lecture material and textbook readings are valuable, I believe that the real learning comes through the student’s own efforts to solve problems and by thinking more critically and creatively about the material. For example, in TE 110, TE 303, and TE 589, I expect the students to reflect upon the answer that they obtain for each problem on the homework and analyze its significance in the context of the course content; for exams, I then expect them to adapt those evaluations to a new but related problem. In addition, when students ask me questions on the homework, I try not to just give them the answer, but rather probe the students with questions to help the students figure it out themselves. I have found that this strategy not only teaches the students how to think, but also can foster their confidence. I also incorporate real-life examples and also the importance of other life skills such as integrity, communications, and time management. For my graduate course on Sustainability of Soft Materials (TE 589-002), the course project is to write an original research paper “to suggest improvements to an existing textile/polymer process, product, or technology to make it more sustainable, and to use the CES EduPack software to provide evidence for your ideas.” I have been very impressed with the quality of their project ideas and supporting documentation! In fact, some students have turned their projects into reality: a student from 2011 worked with the NCSU Sustainability Office to implement his ideas, and a team submitted their project to the 2012 Odebrecht Award for Sustainable Development and won 3rd Place (out of 170 teams).
“Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.” ~ James Harvey Robinson
A key skill that I stress in my classes is reasoning, which is essential to thinking critically, solving problems, and being innovative. Thus, I apply active and inquiry-based learning strategies to engage the students and to resonate with a variety of learning styles. In most of my courses, I have “Brainstorming” moments in most class periods, where I give them something to think about, give them time to think about it, and I solicit their thoughts on the topic. For example, in TE 303, I lead a themed brainstorming session around Halloween time on using the laws of thermodynamics to determine whether ghosts could exist. The students come up with some very interesting viewpoints! I utilize the resulting discussion to teach them how to use the course content to reason through this topic; some thoughts violated some aspects of the laws of thermodynamics, and/or require specific assumptions, so it provides some unstructured teachable moments. Reasoning also requires listening, communication abilities, and respect for differing viewpoints. In T 491, which includes freshman honors students from all textile disciplines (fashion to engineering), the co-instructor and I developed a series of case studies where students break into groups during class to work on them. The goal of each group for a given case study was to develop a consensus on how they would address the issues posed in the case study. Each student is randomly assigned a specific role (Marketing, Lead Scientist, Designer, etc) for each activity, and each student is expected to present opinions and ideas from that role’s point-of-view; therefore, an engineering student might have to think from the perspective of the designer or even the CEO. An example is a “Globalization Case Study”, where the students are asked to propose a recommendation to the management about whether they should merge with the South American company, taking into account the history of this company, the perspectives of all stakeholders involved, and the changing global environment. Students can recommend other improvements or alternatives. The students seemed to enjoy these discussion days, the opportunity to experience various points-of-views on a topic, and to interact with their diverse classmates.
“Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.” ~ Heidi Hays-Jacobs
TE 110 is an introductory course that is intended to teach students how to model problems relevant to their specific engineering discipline through software platforms commonly used in industry, such as Excel with VBA. To aid in retention and broadening the applicability of these skills, I have been active in fostering the integration of these computing skills into other courses throughout the TE curriculum; this initiative is part of a project through the Computing Across the Curriculum Faculty Fellow program for which I participated in 2008. I have integrated these computing skills into TE 303 by adding a homework problem to at least half of the assignments that necessitates the use of these skills, and also require the calculations for the open-ended semester project to be done using the skills learned in TE 110. We published a paper and gave a presentation on this effort at the ASEE International Meeting in 2011.
I integrate other newer technologies into my courses. During class, if I am asked a question that I do not know, I will sometimes say “well, let’s Google it,” providing not only answers, but also providing an example of how they can be resourceful when searching for answers. It also gives me the opportunity to stress in real time about the reliability of content on the Internet and how to make informed decisions on its reliability. In my graduate course, TE 589, I have integrated the use of the CES EduPack software,
both the materials selection tools and the EcoAudit tool. I also record all of my lectures and help sessions, and post all of my notes, so students can access them later. I keep a well-organized Moodle site for every course, which contains lots of examples, extra resources, and other content to help facilitate learning and discussion. I have used technology to provide a forum for students to receive help on their homework assignments. Instead of using the message boards through NC State’s learning management systems, I utilize Piazza, an online/mobile Q&A message board system so that students can learn from each other’s questions, which sometimes also fosters discussions on related topics tend to use external ones. Another value of Piazza is that it allows students to post anonymously, as I have found that the students are more willing to post their questions if they don’t feel that they will be judged by their classmates for it; equations and code can also be easily formatted on the board. In addition, I integrate a lot of online content, including links to online textbooks and resources, YouTube and TED videos, and online simulation tools. In fact, I have not used a textbook in my engineering thermodynamics course for over 8 years, and the students seem to not miss it because of all of the other technologies and content that I provide, and our students who take the engineering licensure exam (Fundamentals of Engineering) have all done well on the thermodynamics section. (The students are, however, strongly encouraged to use a standard textbook as a supplement, and several are put on reserve in the library.)
“The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.” ~ Zig Ziglar
I see my role as an instructor to be more than just teaching technical content, but also teaching life lessons; I feel that it is imperative to emphasize integrity in particular. I stress academic integrity in all of my courses, and devote almost a page to it in my syllabus. I discuss with the students the ramifications of integrity violations on their professional and personal lives, as well as society as a whole. I back up this lesson by having a strict academic misconduct policy in all of my courses, and I emphasize it on all assignments and exams. I devised an ethics module on the Dangers of Group Think, which I have incorporated into several courses (TE 105, E 101) as have some colleagues. For example, when the students in E101 presented their final design project results, part of the presentation requirements were to address challenges, and several of the groups brought out aspects of the group think that we had discussed earlier in the semester. In addition, I worked with a colleague to integrate critical thinking lessons and assignments into both TE 105 and E 101 (that was prior to the NC State Th!nk Initiative as critical thinking is something that I value as an important skill). Self-assessments performed at the end of the courses indicated that the quality of final projects had dramatically improved because it not only helped the students have a foundation in critical thinking, but also provided a good mechanism for us to be more objective in our grading. I also emulate integrity and ethics by striving to be fair, consistent, and resourceful for all students.
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
Much teaching also takes place outside of the classroom. I view my advising and mentoring roles as a catalyst for devising the framework that enables learning to take place, then stimulating and nurturing the students’ progress, giving help in terms of knowledge, techniques, resources, and most of all, encouragement. One of my favorite parts of my job is serving as an academic advisor, which I view as including life coaching and career counseling. Another favorite aspect of my job is mentoring almost 100 people on research projects and graduate dissertations (my academic kids and nieces/nephews!), and love when they stop by to visit or send update emails. I also enjoy having opportunities to serve as a faculty advisor/mentor for student activities, such as the faculty advisor for the DanceLife club and being a faculty guest at activities hosted by programs like Caldwell Fellows, Goodnight Scholars, Centennial Scholars, Textile Engineering Society, and Textile Association of Graduate Students. I also actively mentor my junior colleagues on teaching and mentoring, and enjoy seeing their growth and success as a teacher, advisor, and mentor.
Bert E. Holmes
I was an invited faculty guest at a Goodnight Scholars dinner on 9 November 2017, and one of the students asked what career we imagined as a child and how that relates to who we are today, and the answer for me was easy – a teacher. I spent countless hours throughout my childhood pretending that I was a teacher.
“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.”
The ultimate objective of higher education is to provide students with the ability to make original contributions to their discipline’s knowledge. If this were not so, progress would stop and new ideas, or inventions would cease. How do we reach this pinnacle, this final objective? Applying problem solving skills and deciding which questions to address is the highest form of education where the student becomes a peer, a critic, and a colleague of the teacher. Reaching this plateau of proposing new avenues for inquiry and providing solutions is difficult to attain. The best environment for achieving this pinnacle is not a student-teacher ratio of twenty-to-one, or twelveto- one, but one-to-one. Pupil and teacher must be together in a situation where difficulties abound and easy solutions are rare. For the scientist, student-faculty research amply provides such an opportunity. The close interaction allows the student to participate with, and learn from the professor as they think through a dilemma to a resolution. And when questions arise, the mentor must resist the temptation to quickly provide the answer. This is a teaching-learning environment and the mentor must involve the student as the mentor helps the student develop her/his unique problem solving methodologies.
So, how do I teach in the traditional classroom? I now teach very differently than I did when I began lecturing in 1975. I taught as I was taught, spending hours developing organized and, I hoped, interesting lecture notes that I would deliver as rapidly as possible to the class. I was the “Sage on the Stage”. My laboratory experiments were designed to verify the concepts presented in the lectures. I taught this way until I watched Professor Kingsfield, star of the 1979 TV show Paper Chase, call on and “grill” students on the class assignments. This experience led me to change my lecture style to a “Socratic Method” where I try to call on each student at least once per week. I still attempt to organize the topics into a logical flow, but now students are called upon to work the problems or give insights into a concept. The class is interactive with questions from the students as well as from me. While at NSF I learned of the importance of group learning and I, once more, modified by teaching pedagogy. In CHEM 132 students are now organized into teams who solve problems on worksheets that are turned in and graded.
As my philosophy of education matured I realized that learning the “process of science” was vastly more important then learning the “facts of science”. If my objective was to engage students in the process of science, then I needed to teach in a manner that prepared students to fully benefit from the research experience. Laboratories should be opportunities for students to practice and develop their problem solving skills. Even as freshman, students should be actively engaged in the process of science. Laboratory experiments should require group work, there should be multi-week, discovery-based projects where students develop, within guidelines, the hypothesis to be investigated. Students should be organized into teams that conduct “mini-research projects” that prepare them for their mentor-guided research experience. Science educators have found that these learning strategies are especially suitable for women and minorities and for economically disadvantaged students.
Finally, I am a challenging teacher, always pushing students to their limit by presenting difficult problems that challenge their current level of understanding. A delicate balance is needed because students will quit if they are constantly frustrated by problems that are too difficult for them to solve. In effect, I push students to the edge of the cliff of their knowledge but try to avoid pushing them into the abyss beyond. Students will build upon that success and each time they venture to the cliff they will find it takes a few more steps to reach the edge. The repeated journey to the edge of their knowledge is the essence of learning.
My primary focus when presenting material in the classroom is to make it inquiry based and to convey that mathematics is a dynamic and evolving field. Students are urged to move away from memorization, which is replaced with the development of problem solving skills. A deep understanding of definitions is required, and heuristics are presented to try to make them more relatable.
My primary focus when presenting material in the classroom is to make it inquiry based and to convey that mathematics is a dynamic and evolving field. Students are urged to move away from memorization, which is replaced with the development of problem solving skills. A deep understanding of definitions is required, and heuristics are presented to try to make them more relatable.
This approach, based in understanding and problem solving rather than memorization, is often met with much resistance at first, but the development of such critical thinking is, in my opinion, the most important objective. In my 2016 sections of Math 383 – First Course in Differential Equations, I implemented this, in part, by focusing on word problems and “real life” problem solving. In Math 521 – Advanced Calculus I, students are almost never asked to reproduce a proof that they have seen but are instead required to learn to develop and convey their own proofs.
On the first day of a class such as Math 521, which is a proof based course, it is stressed that students need to learn to understand proofs, to construct proofs, to read proofs, and to write proofs. Traditional lectures are only of much assistance with the first of these goals. My focus goes into making lectures interactive and conversational, and these times are used to demonstrate effective problem solving strategies and proper ways to write technical solutions. This initiates, during class time, the process of getting the students to engage with problems. But even with such, the students need to do more with the material on their own, to do many exercises, etc. The methods described below are designed to encourage such.
Many students find the concept of doing research in mathematics to be completely foreign and most are aware of quite few unsolved problems. Throughout the semester, course-appropriate new mathematics, often simplified versions of my research or that of other faculty members at UNC, and open problems are described. For example, the famed Riemann Hypothesis can naturally be introduced in, e.g., Math 521 when infinite series are being discussed. I distinctly remember being introduced to Goldbach’s conjecture in an elementary number theory class; it greatly expanded my interest in the course and in mathematics as a whole.
Methods Used to Achieve Educational Goals
In recent years, I have been experimenting with a number of ideas in order to improve student performance and increase their engagement with the material. A new element or two is added every semester. Math 521 is the class that I have taught the most often, which has afforded me the most opportunity to experiment. Some of the techniques mentioned below are specific to that class. I am proud to point to my Spring 2016 evaluations in Math 521 as evidence that the culmination of these techniques has been very well received.
The methods that I have focused on recently include:
- Piazza online forums: These are becoming increasingly used on campus. Since the Spring 2015 semester, I have used piazza.com for email correspondence with students. These forums allow all students to see the reply to questions, which both provides a level of fairness as a hint to one student on a problem can now be seen by all students and a decrease in email load as the same question does not have to be answered repeatedly, which thus promotes a quicker response time. Moreover, LaTeX formatting is incorporated for clearer responses, students can reply and work together to remedy their confusions, etc.
- Warm-up problems: A lot of students tend to be in the classroom five or more minutes before the beginning of lecture. So, for several years now, I have been arriving early to the classroom to put a “warm-up” problem on the board. The students can attempt this problem collaboratively during the time before lecture starts. At times, such problems are true / false questions in order to test the students’ understanding of a definition, while sometimes the questions are an additional example of techniques developed previously. The first few minutes of lecture are then spent discussing the warm-up problem as a review of the previous lecture. These have been warmly received and help the students to recall the preceding material before seeing new topics.
- More frequent assignments: In an attempt to encourage students to interact with mathematics more regularly, I typically require multiple assignments to be turned in every week. Often there is an assignment corresponding to every lecture, which is due one week after it is assigned. This is an idea that L. C. Evans at Berkeley shared with me, and while sometimes described as overwhelming in evaluations, it is more frequently reported to be beneficial, even by some of those that thought it was overwhelming. Having smaller but more regular assessments also aids with the next topic.
- Large and active office hours: Using, in part, suggestions of H. Christianson to increase participation, I have focused on getting the students to consider office hours as an essential portion of my classes. Students are told that office hours are not only for those struggling in the class but are instead a time for practice, workshopping ideas, advising, etc. This forces distinct sets of office hours for separate classes, but the benefits to the students, as indicated in evaluations, appear to be tremendous. For the past two years, attendance in office hours for undergraduate courses has been so significant that I have had to reserve larger rooms in which to hold such meetings. This only further encourages participation as then I am no longer at my desk and near my work, and the impression that I am being interrupted from other things is removed. These times quickly become collaborative amongst the students, and problem solving abilities greatly increase with this practice. It also promotes one- on-one interaction with me as the instructor. A particularly notable event occurred this semester when I held a problem session for Math 521 on a Sunday evening that was three days before the exam (and for which extended office hours were going to be held on subsequent days). It was stressed that the problem session was voluntary and would only be question / answer as I had already written the exam and would not want to accidentally provide a hint to the content of the exam through my selection of problems. Nevertheless, in a class of 42 students, more than 30 attended, and we continued practicing and reviewing for 3 hours.
- Glossary: This is most appropriate to Math 521 where a solid grasp of many technical definitions is essential to success. Students are told that the key to the work in this class is to first learn the definitions and then to practice a lot. A repetition of definitions is often a part of the warm up problems. To stress the importance of learning the definitions, I have begun maintaining an online glossary on Sakai for this class. Each day, after lecture, I update the glossary with any new definitions that were presented. This collects all of this essential information in one spot. Students in several cases have used the raw LaTeX file to create online flash cards, which have then been shared in the Piazza forums.
- Thorough Sakai course sites: Courses are supplemented with thorough Sakai sites. In addition to the glossary, e.g., sites often contain notes, links, and old exams. Solutions to assignments and exams are prepared so as to model effective problem solving and communication of technical ideas. The calendar is updated with a brief summary of each lecture and a reading assignment. Upon request, access to an example of these can be granted so that it can be browsed. One can also see the requested course materials, which are arranged to model a Sakai site.
- Handwritten solutions: While the typed solutions to an exam have benefits, the students are not typing their solutions during in-class assessments. So particularly in proof based courses, such as Math 521, I have begun also posting hand-written solutions to more exactly model the expectations.
In addition to the above, effort has been made to make lectures a more active time. When lecturing, the goal is to make it feel like a guided conversation where students are anticipating the next step, providing their own strategies, etc. With mixed results, I have been pausing and having students attempt problems on their own prior to going through them. I have been a member of the Finish Line Project and the Mathematics Learning Community through the Center for Faculty Excellence, and such methods are frequently discussed there. This was quite warmly received in Math 383, but in the Spring 2016 section of Math 521 completing an entire proof during such a pause was noted to be too daunting. In my Fall 2017 section of the same class, we instead did the same for smaller pieces such as writing down a definition without looking back at the notes, practicing applying a definition to a specific example, etc. This seemed to be an improvement. It kept the class actively engaged yet was manageable in the amounts of time that were available. An ongoing challenge is to further adapt these proven techniques to higher level, particularly proof based, courses.
Outside of the classroom, I have been leading a number of research projects. This direction is typically done through a series of exercises. I have, for example, started most of the students that have done reading classes with me by guiding them through a proof of the Morawetz inequality for the wave equation as an exercise. While the proof utilizes little beyond integration by parts, it illustrates a widely used technique, called a positive commutator argument, and yields an estimate that is playing an increasingly important role in modern studies of wave and dispersive partial differential equations. By posing additional follow up exercises for which they use their newfound skills, the students are pushed ever closer to modern research level mathematics.
Establishing an Equitable and Inclusive Classroom
The classroom thrives, with more active participation from each student, when every student feels included. The tone is set early in the semester with introductions. I share that I am a first generation college graduate that went to a high school that was so small that it did not offer calculus, which helps students know that I can understand some of their struggles. I mention how overwhelmed I felt during my initial day of college when my Calculus I teacher started by writing “ ε > 0 δ > 0 so that…” The effectiveness of this was noted in an “Of the Month” nomination that I received and which is included in the summary of student evaluations that is a part of these materials.
On the first day of a class, I often say, “This is an upper level course in mathematics at an elite university. It is suppose to be hard.” This helps to establish that struggling is expected, and it gives me the opportunity to assure the class that I will be there to assist and to outline in what ways. It also reinforces that those who are struggling are not alone. In order to establish a collaborative tone between the students and me, every syllabus encourages students to provide constructive feedback at any point during the semester rather than waiting until the end of the semester. Feedback on what may be done to help better prepare them for assessments is often requested.
As mentioned above, it is stressed that office hours are a collaborative time of practice and are an important piece of the course. And the online forum provides a source for ongoing communication.
To set the tone of the class, extra patience is given to questions that are addressed to the students in the first few lectures. This helps set the precedence that students are expected to respond and that the answer will not just be given to them without such. Lectures then become quite interactive as students are conditioned to provide responses to my inquiries. Questions are encouraged often, and every question is responded to. This includes the online forum. Even when grade distributions may look low, such as in Math 521, improvements are noted and effusively praised. Moreover, classroom practices, such as those discussed in the Faculty Learning Community that was a part of the Finish Line Project, are employed. These are proven to help in the retention of first generation college students and to help close achievement gaps (but without lowering the performance of the highest achieving population).
Evidence of Effectiveness
Evidence of the effectiveness of these methods can readily be found on the corresponding course evaluations where many comments reference how challenging such courses are, how much the student has learned, and how much the student enjoyed the class. If we look at the evaluation question “Overall, this instructor was an effective teacher,” the scores for the past several semesters are: 4.84 (Math 383, Section 003, Fall 2016, 43/56 responses), 4.89 (Math 383, Section 005, Fall 2016, 35/39 responses), 4.97 (Math 521, Spring 2016, 31/35 responses), 4.65 (Math 381, Spring 2016, 31/41 responses),
4.61 (Math 521, Spring 2015, 18 responses), 4.73 (Math 653, Fall 2014, 15 responses), 4.70 (Math 521, Spring 2014, 20/27 responses), 5.00 (Math 590, Fall 2013, 8/9 responses), which are all significantly above the department mean in their respective terms. A sampling of the comments on such evaluations and a further summary of the scores is included in this application as a separate document.
I feel greatly honored to have been nominated for the Board of Governors’ Teaching Excellence Award. I have dedicated my career to teaching, first as an English teacher in France (with a few teaching engagements in North America to improve my English skills), and then as a French instructor/professor in the United States since 1984.
I feel greatly honored to have been nominated for the Board of Governors’ Teaching Excellence Award. I have dedicated my career to teaching, first as an English teacher in France (with a few teaching engagements in North America to improve my English skills), and then as a French instructor/professor in the United States since 1984. As a faculty member at UNC Charlotte since 1990, I have taught over twenty (20) different undergraduate courses in French language, literature, and culture—many of which I developed—, with consistently very good to excellent student evaluations.
In all my courses, I strive to develop my students’ critical skills and their ability to synthesize the material and apply their knowledge to new contexts. I also try to give them passion for the material by designing activities that are fun and challenging at the same time, and I encourage a broad view of learning that takes students outside the classroom.
Students usually describe me as a challenging, organized, and helpful teacher. I conduct all my courses almost entirely in French, at a level meant to challenge yet not discourage. Foreign language classes can be intimidating, because students often lack the skills to express their ideas efficiently. One of my goals for each class period is for each student to speak up, and I encourage participation by distributing very precise oral and written assignments ahead of time, which is especially useful for the less confident students.
I believe that the atmosphere of a class is very important in promoting learning. I encourage students to get to know each other through interviews and presentations the first day, and through frequent group work during the semester. I include what I know about the students in my questions and examples in language courses, and I encourage students at all levels to give presentations on topics that matter to them personally. I also encourage students to expand their horizons by attending cultural events. All these activities create a stronger learning community.
In addition to teaching, I consider advising and mentoring students a very important part of my work. I write many letters of recommendation, and I like to alert students to any experience that can help develop their potential and boost their resumes. As a result of this mentoring and of several initiatives that I promoted on the French staff or in the community, our students have received local and national awards, served as Bell Ringer at graduation, won prestigious scholarships and essay contests, taught English in French schools through the paid Assistant Program of the French Ministry of Education, and done volunteer work and internships in local schools. I have received many notes and tokens of gratitude from current and former students thanking me for these efforts on their behalf. To quote from a few: “Thank you for all you do for your students,” “Thanks for all your encouragements, letters of recommendation and nominations for awards!,” “[Thank you] for strongly endorsing my candidacy as a Senator for College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” “You have always been an incredibly reliable professor,” “I can’t even thank you enough for all your help, guidance and mentorship during my time at UNCC. Even now, out in the ‘real world, I still remember the strong work ethic and thirst for excellence that you have helped instill in me.”
Teaching practice (CV 1-3)
Some of the courses I teach on a regular basis will give an idea of how I meet the above goals. FREN 3209 (France today) is a course on contemporary France that includes sections on geography, politics, religion, education, immigration, France and the European Union, among other topics. The material is dense, and the students, who often lack knowledge about France, need a lot of guidance to make sense of the information. Over the years, I have supplemented the rather dry textbook with a plethora of visual documents, songs, excerpts of films and TV programs to stimulate interest. To engage the students and respond to their needs, I ask them to send me reading notes, questions and critical comments about the material before they come to class. I use a variety of techniques to develop their critical skills. In the section on politics, for example, I use a cartoon of De Gaulle in the likeness of Louis XIV to review De Gaulle’s role in forging the president-centered institutions of the Fifth Republic. To test the students’ understanding of French political parties, I ask them to read unlabeled excerpts of electoral platforms and use their knowledge and key words to “guess” which party each excerpt represents. I invite international students and former students who have taught in France to class. A sample of course evaluations shows that students appreciate these efforts: “She makes the class interesting and challenging … students have to use critical thinking and are challenged,” “She goes out of her way to do activities to stimulate course interest. She really cares about students,” “Very good at identifying and organizing key concepts which she then conveys to us,” “I cannot more strongly emphasize the usefulness of this course. Should be given before a study abroad opportunity”.
I am particularly pleased with the way I meet my goals and promote active learning and collaboration in my advanced course on the history of French cinema, FREN 4007. In the first two-thirds of the course, students learn to analyze key classic films. In the last third, my role switches to that of advisor and facilitator as they undertake the project of writing sequel chapters to the textbook in groups of two or three. Each group does extensive research on a recent film of its choosing, writes a chapter modeled on the textbook chapters, and teaches that chapter to the class. This final project is organized in eight different stages over a two-month period, and students rewrite each part for style and content. I collect the papers in an electronic booklet and email it to the class at the end of the semester. It is very gratifying to see the students transfer what they have learned to a new situation and take charge of their learning, and I have also gleaned many ideas for presenting the material creatively from their presentations. Recent comments on the course as a whole include “I wish every class was as rich and challenging as this one” and “I like that we have a step-by-step process for the final project and appreciate the opportunity to review all grammatical errors before the final!”
In language classes, I have added feature films to the curriculum to help students improve their language skills and cultural competence. This initiative started at the elementary and intermediate levels thanks to Curriculum and Instructional Development grants in the 1990s. I also revamped FREN 3201 (French Grammar and Conversation). This course is challenging because it is the students’ first exposure to extended discussions in French and it draws students with different motivations, including some who take it to meet a 3000-level requirement. Teaching with film has helped bring the different groups together. When I first taught this class, I used a grammar book and a conversation book. Making connections between the two was sometimes difficult, so I gradually designed materials that integrated the study of vocabulary and grammar with discussion of a wide range of cultural topics. These materials evolved into my textbook Séquences, which is organized around the study of subtitled French and francophone films that students are expected to view outside class. The films included in the latest (third) edition acquaint students with, among other topics, the Erasmus European exchange program, Quebec history and society, the history of Iran, French colonization in Indochina and Algeria, the French educational system, the French banlieue (disadvantaged suburban areas), and polygamy in Africa, and they allow them to discuss themes such as colonialism, education, the family, immigration, sexual orientation and women’s issues. Because the discussion questions are inspired by scholarship on the films, the book also provides an introduction to literary and filmic analysis that prepares students for advanced literature and culture courses. In addition to this intellectual content, the book includes lighter activities. One of my favorite sessions is when students perform skits inspired by the films at the end of the semester.
I consider Séquences one of my most important contributions to the profession. It was one of the first French language textbook based on authentic feature films to be published by a major US publishing house, and to this day it is the only one that includes the study of grammar. It has been adopted by over sixty institutions and has been well-received by students and instructors. A reviewer of the second edition for the Modern Language Journal, a top international refereed journal, praises the book for its ability to fuse the study of language and culture effectively: “Although it is not a particularly challenging task to select a series of interesting and relevant films for a course, integrating them into a text that meets the various criteria of intermediate learning is no small accomplishment. […] Much of the strength of Bissière’s text lies in its subtle and thorough exploitation of the linguistic and cultural possibilities provided by her film selections.” The reviewer concludes by describing Séquences as “an exceptionally innovative and useful intermediate textbook” and “an exemplary contribution to intermediate language learning.”
Connections among teaching, research, and service
Research (CV 3-10)
Séquences is just one example of how my publication agenda has evolved as a result of my teaching. After publishing on eighteenth-century French women writers (my dissertation topic) and women’s education, I started attending conferences and publishing on content-based pedagogy and contemporary French cinema. I have organized sessions and given numerous papers on individual films, themes in contemporary French cinema (immigration and education, among others), the remake phenomenon, and the teaching of literature and culture with film [CV 7-9, 17] These presentations, which combine a strong research component with pedagogical suggestions, have been well received by the high school and university teachers who attended them. Their impact can be measured by the awards and leadership opportunities that I have received from the American Association of Teachers of French as a result [CV 13, 15-16].
In addition to Séquences and numerous pedagogical articles, I also co-edited French/Francophone Culture and Literature through Film, published by Women in French, an Allied Organization of the Modern Language Association. The seventeen articles that make up the volume offer original approaches to using French and Francophone film in a variety of courses on language, culture, literature, women’s studies and literary theory. Most of the articles have a strong scholarly component in addition to pedagogical suggestions, which range from discussion questions to complete syllabi. The reviewer of the volume in The French Review of April 2009 describes it as “invaluable to anyone contemplating the teaching of a film course or an intermediate language/culture course that incorporates film” and notes that “[m]any of the articles surpass the deceptively simple title of the volume, taking on issues as profound and varied as the Holocaust, sexual identity, Orientalism, the effects of modernization on the African Griot, and post-coloniality.”
My latest major publication, Le Cinéma français contemporain. Manuel de classe (Hackett Publishing Company), is directly related to the classroom. It is a co-authored textbook on contemporary French cinema that covers twenty major works from the 1980s to the early 2010s. It is a sequel (with major changes in outlook) to my co-author’s textbook on earlier French cinema that I use to teach the Survey of French Cinema course described on p.2 (some of the chapters are actually inspired by my students’ projects in that class). The French version of the textbook came out in November 2017, and my co-author and I are preparing a translation into English for Film Studies courses to be published in 2018. Like most of my contributions to the scholarship of teaching, this new project is based on extensive research on each film and its aesthetic, social, historical, and political contexts.
Service (CV 14-18)
Many of my service activities at UNC Charlotte, for the profession, and in the community have been closely related to the classroom. As Study Abroad Advisor/ Coordinator for the French staff (1995-2009), I sought to increase opportunities for our students abroad. My work in that area, which includes co-designing our exchange programs with the University of Limoges and the University Lyon 3 in the 1990s, has benefited a small but steady number of students (5 to 12 students per academic year). More recently, I helped design a summer program in Limoges and collaborated on the submission of an outside grant from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to subsidize the program (not funded). Ten students attended in 2015 and 2016. I also initiated the creation of a Spring Break course on French civilization in Paris in 2017. I co-designed the program with the part-time instructor who regularly teaches the course on campus, and I accompanied the group during Spring break. This was a very positive experience that we will renew every year. Other student-related service includes serving as advisor for the French Club (2003-14), supervising student internships at Waddell Academy of International Languages (a CMS language immersion school), organizing our teaching assistant exchange with the University of Limoges (8 exchanges so far), and serving on various university committees to select Fulbright students, Honors scholarship recipients, and Levine Scholars.
Creating connections with the university at large and the community is an aspect of my work that I greatly value. My most important contribution in that area has been the organization of several French and international film festivals thanks to various grants and funding from community organizations (filmfest.uncc.edu). The festivals have given UNC Charlotte students and students from local schools and universities more opportunities to view foreign films. It has also allowed the language clubs to hone their grant-writing skills (some clubs have received funding to pay for film rights, speakers, and refreshments).
In the community, I have fostered relationships with the Alliance Française de Charlotte (a world-wide organization whose mission is to promote the language and culture of French-speaking peoples) and with CMS (in particular Waddell Academy of International Languages) that have brought opportunities to our students in the form of cultural events, grants, essay competitions, internships and miscellaneous support (the Alliance helps the UNC Charlotte French Club represent France during the annual International Festival).
Finally, I have served the teaching profession in my involvement with the American Association of Teachers of French—the largest association of French teachers in the world, with nearly 10,000 members. As Regional Representative from 2006 to 2009, I kept the EC informed about activities of the seven state chapters in the Southeast; I promoted the AATF at local and regional conferences, offered support when a French program was threatened, nominated deserving chapter officers for awards and sent annual letters of congratulation to over 300 teachers whose students placed in the AATF-sponsored National French Contest. As Vice President of NC-AATF, I have organized the program of several conferences for area teachers. My most important work for AATF has been as Film Review Editor for its scholarly journal, the French Review, from 2010 to 2016, a position which has led to new individual and collaborative research while providing new ideas for the classroom. I became Managing Editor for the journal in 2017.
I am pleased with the ways I have been able to integrate my teaching, research and service activities at UNC Charlotte, and honored to have received recognition for my combined contributions to the profession. The NC-AATF Teacher of the Year Award (2013), the AATF Dorothy S Ludwig Excellence in Teaching Award at the post-secondary level (2015), and the Palmes Académiques from the French Ministry of Education (2014) recognize professional engagement as well as excellence in teaching.
In the fifth grade, Sister Agnes Mary asked three of us to go up to the blackboard and answer a math problem using long division. Jamie Loehr (now my father’s physician, in retrospect I am glad he did well on this problem) and Eileen John (currently a Philosophy professor in England) were able to solve theirs in a short period of time.
It pretty much began here:
In the fifth grade, Sister Agnes Mary asked three of us to go up to the blackboard and answer a math problem using long division. Jamie Loehr (now my father’s physician, in retrospect I am glad he did well on this problem) and Eileen John (currently a Philosophy professor in England) were able to solve theirs in a short period of time; I on the other hand got stuck on where to put the decimal point and can remember standing with my back to my classmates, chalk pressed against the board, frozen in place. And I stood there, through the rest of math class; through the next period, which was social studies, and through the next period, English, till I was finally released from blackboard purgatory to eat lunch. I will NEVER forget the feeling I had as I stood there, three inches from the board, for over an hour. In fact now, over 40 years later, it is easy to recall the pit in my stomach and my dry mouth, the sweat pouring down my back, and the feeling that I could solve this if I was just given some encouragement. Two things happened that day: I was ruined for life for math, which was too bad because I liked it, and, I realized the difference between flat out not knowing the answer, and not knowing the answer but desperately wanting to learn with the right guidance. I knew I was not stupid, I just needed someone to show me they had faith (no irony intended) that I could do it. I hope that the following sections highlight and underscore the commitment I made years ago to never again allow any student to feel they are not capable of learning.
My philosophy of teaching and my methods can be traced directly to my experience with Sister Agnes Mary and the math problem. As I got older, I became a hero for the underdog, learning to subtly and overtly encourage strengths that only needed to be guided. I vowed to repay all the students I could with a moment of encouragement, something I had not had on that day in fifth grade. I simply know that is why I am a teacher. I have searched for a vehicle to express my philosophy and I happened upon the notion that long ago, sailors, having sailed on each of the seven seas, were known to possess all the knowledge in the world. I certainly have not sailed around the world in my teaching, but my philosophy has certainly changed since I first “left shore.” I‘d like to use the Seven “C’s” to illustrate where I am now. The Seven “C’s” as I relate them to my teaching philosophy are:
Courage: I did not have courage as a young teacher. I feared not being the absolute smartest person in the room and never wanted to appear as if I did not know something. This I have come to realize given my subject matter of health, could have serious consequences, and was grossly unfair to my students. In Jane Tompkins “A Life in School: What the Teacher Learned,” the author discovers that she will not be less thought of if she walks into a classroom and looks to her students for guidance, if fact, it is this very act that allows students and teacher to feel more a part of the experience.
Community: I have always believed that each of my classes should be thought of as a community rather than a square room filled with 50 people staring at the backs of each other’s heads. One of my favorite activities to do early on is have students, anonymously write down the following: What is the one thing that will make you truly happy, and what is the one thing, that, just by looking at you, we would never guess that you have done. I then separate the students into two groups, hand out the cards, and ask them to find the person on the card just by looking for them. This as you can imagine takes some time and when they finally connect the “oohs and aahs and no ways” are overwhelming. I do this for the following reasons – it adds depth to the person sitting next to you all semester if you know that they donated a kidney to their brother or saved someone’s life after an auto accident. It also brings out the fact that everyone has lived a life, has dreams, and is not just third row, second seat, HEA 308.
Conceptualization: Ask any of the over 3000 plus students I have had in my career and they will all say that Perko’s first rule of health is that “Knowledge does not equal behavior change.” The teaching of facts in health, while the absolute basis for cognition, is secondary to the teaching of concepts in health. Health is fluid, it is thoughts and behaviors and processes. The health promotion / health education process involves helping individuals, groups, and communities develop the political, institutional, social, and economic structures needed to sustain and encourage health behaviors, not micro-managing each individual with facts that will be forgotten by the weekend. The students who graduate from our program will have seen advocacy in action, will understand about social ecology systems and reciprocal determinism, and will be witness to our ongoing crisis in healthcare, obesity, and diabetes, but they will not know how many calories are in a big Mac I can promise you that.
Creativity: Health is a laughing matter, just ask Norman Cousins, the only non-MD to hold a full professorship while teaching Medical Humanities in the UCLA School of Medicine. Cousins, who recuperated from two life-threatening illnesses with daily doses of belly laughter, believed “that the life force may be the least understood force on earth”. I incorporate creativity and humor into my teaching as a matter of curricular choice, not as a matter of edutainment. Health can and does lend itself to creativity and humor; to fail to realize that is a tremendous disservice.
Collaboration: I have lost count of the number of non-health people who I have collaborated with in the classroom. From the make-up artist who demonstrated on a student how the face will age, to the newspaper reporter who talked about political bias in reporting about controversial health topics, to the septuagenarian big band leader whose motto was “I don’t retire, I refire…”, to the author on rhetoric used by faith healers on sick people, the students who have been exposed to seemingly random individuals and who finally make the connection to health and behavior are finally thinking that health is more than just eating right and working out at the Rec center.
Collegiality: In my freshman year I took a sociology class. Dr. Abe Bernstein was the professor and on the first day of class he sauntered in, flung off his fedora and trench coat and said “Colleagues, we have a lot of work to do.” I looked around…who was he talking to? Colleagues? The notion had never struck me before. How could he think of us as colleagues? He did and treated us as such all semester; he made sure we gave our input and figured out complex sociological concepts while facilitating the discussions. The first time it came out of my mouth as a professor it just sounded right and I have been doing so ever since. I have also added the word “scholars.” I believe the university setting is the appropriate place to plant the notion that those seated in front of me can form mature and professional thoughts. Are they really my colleagues? Absolutely. What’s wrong with trying it on to see how it fits?
Compassion: I love to teach. I see the best in my students. No matter how cliché it sounds or how often you hear it said, the feeling you get from having the world that teachers have – the world of thousands of relationships with outstanding students and people, the richness of passing on knowledge, the joy of those students who say, “I want to do what you do”, the celebration of graduating seniors year after year who thank you for helping them. I feel I owe it to all the students who ever stood with their back to the class and wanted just a little help because they really wanted to answer the question on the board. I wake up every day, clap my hands and say, “I hope I get that chance today.”
My teaching philosophy is ever evolving. It is a work in progress, unfinished, and it always will be. The germinal idea of my teaching philosophy began over thirty years ago on an instinctual level, then over time interacted with the learning process, performance experiences, colleagues and mentors, assorted readings, the process of writing, …
My teaching philosophy is ever evolving. It is a work in progress, unfinished, and it always will be. The germinal idea of my teaching philosophy began over thirty years ago on an instinctual level, then over time interacted with the learning process, performance experiences, colleagues and mentors, assorted readings, the process of writing, precious little formal training, structure mingled with improvisation, practice, and then some more practice. My teaching philosophy develops out of a recursive process. It comes from a desire to construct meaning. It comes from a desire to connect. Since my teaching philosophy is ever evolving, the best I can do is try to tell the story of how I think it originated and how it came to be shaped to what it is on this day. I believe my instinct to teach originally sprang from what Aristotle described as the innate human instinct to imitate. “…Aristotle first argued that people are by nature imitative creatures—that they take pleasure in imitating persons, things, and actions seen in such imitations. In the twentieth century, a number of psychologists have suggested that humans have a gift for fantasy through which they seek to reshape reality into more satisfying forms than encountered in daily life. Thus, fantasy or fiction (of which drama is one form) permits people to objectify their anxieties and fears so that they may confront them or to fulfill their hopes and dreams.” (Brockett, pp. 6-7) The instinct to imitate, then, is a means to organize meaning in an effort to learn about ourselves in relation to the world. It is a way in to empathize with the thoughts, feelings and motives of the object of our imitation, and to connect with an audience in order that they might empathize as well.
My exposure to drama and theatre was initiated and nurtured by teachers in classrooms dating back as far as elementary school. My own teaching and learning processes have always been inextricably linked to my exposure to drama and theatre. My earliest memory of having the instinct to teach is rehearsing a scene from Neil Simon’s The Star Spangled Girl with a female classmate in high school. I played Norman, who is obsessed with his next door neighbor, Sophie. I recall my directing and teaching instincts took over as we rehearsed the scene, which amounted to my character very physically, aggressively, and comically pursuing her. I ran the rehearsal, finding the blocking as we worked, in order to make the dialogue and the action make sense to us on stage. It was very much improvisatory, coming more from instinct than any real knowledge of acting and directing. I distinctly recall guiding my acting partner to find the strategies to staging a successful scene through a kinesthetic instinct. At the same time I was keenly aware of the structure of the character’s action provided by Simon’s text. I also learned at this time that imitating the thoughts, feelings and motives of character was a truly pleasurable process, probably because I was unconsciously working out my own feelings about girls in general, (and this girl in particular!) I felt connected to her, and I felt a connection with the audience of our peers when we played the scene. I suspect this interplay between the structure of a script, performance and instinctive improvisation has been a present factor in my teaching ever since. I have always felt there is an element of performance involved in teaching in that I “play” a role as a teacher in front of an audience of students, following a sort of scenario in the form of a structured lesson plan, yet allowing for some improvisation in an attempt to interact with my students in the moment in an effort to connect them somehow to my own passion for theatre and drama. I struggled in the beginning of my teaching career at UNCP in the spring of 1998 because I was handcuffed by structure and utilized very little instinct. I spent hours taking notes, trying to plan every minute of the class, essentially creating structure with a script. But the result was that I was self-consciously tied to these notes, and hopelessly unable to get out of my own head, let alone be present in the here and now for true interaction with my students. It was only through semesters of repetition, which was not unlike rehearsing scenes from a play, that I began distilling the density of these early notes to a more streamlined scrawl on the chalkboard, and then gradually transposing sometimes illegible scrawl to even more streamlined and much easier to read PowerPoint presentations. Out of these presentations a more cohesive and logical structural pattern evolved over the years, both within class periods and in the overall design of the class over the semester. Within many of my classes I begin with the brief and simple presentation of a concept, followed by an activity that tasks students to critically think about the concept, to be followed by a forum for students to attempt to articulate how to apply the concept to the activity. As I “rehearsed” my Introduction to Theatre and Acting I fundamentals classes over the past twenty years, I have eventually been able to be freed from the “script,” and this has allowed me to improvise with the students, to “act” energetically in the classroom, and even entertain them at times. The result is that when it is really going well each class is a unique experience, something that is happening for the first time, and not merely a repetition from last semester, coming entirely from what transpires between me and my students, and not from a book or a PowerPoint presentation. In this sense class sometimes seems like an act of theatre: all of us are participating in the same space, creating what is hopefully a learning experience. Over time my teaching has been shaped by colleagues and mentors. I have tried to emulate a couple of arts educators in particular, Dr. Gretta Berghammer, who encouraged me to seek a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Drama and Children’s Theatre back in the 1980s, and more recently, Mr. Jef Lambdin, a well-known arts educator and movement/mime artist residing in North Carolina. It was through observing their teaching, coupled with the formal training I received at the University of Texas at Austin, that I learned how to structure a lesson plan complete with the definition of concept, learning goals, strategies for organizing activities and assessment strategies. I recall my earliest syllabi at UNCP being influenced by my Director of Theatre, Dr. Chet Jordan, who encouraged me to develop a variety of ways in which to assess students so that no one assignment or test would carry an inordinate weight in a student’s grade. Hence, I have always striven to offer a diverse set of activities in every class. At the same time, my discipline as a stage director influences me to demand accountability from my students, and execute a tough but fair attendance policy.
Writing has always been an important facet of my learning process, and thus I have always viewed it as critical to student learning. When I participated in the Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) a few years ago, my Introduction to Theatre course was transformed into a “Writing Enriched” course as I implemented a variety of “low stakes,” or “writing to think” writing assignments and created much more specific guidelines for formal writing assignments. (l implemented these strategies in my Acting I course, as well.) In addition, I have recently received “Writing in the Discipline” (WID) designation for the Senior Capstone in Theatre, thereby creating the first course in the theatre curriculum with that status. In fact, I plan to apply for “Writing Enriched” (WE) designation for my Acting I and Theatre History courses this year, since these courses are already “writing enriched” by design. Since participating in the QEP program I began spending 30 to 45 minutes on each student submission of formal writing, for which I offer voluminous editorial suggestion and corrections. Since writing is a recursive process, I offer my students the option to write unlimited drafts based upon my feedback up until the last day of classes in order to improve their writing (and their grade). I know from personal experience that writing leads me to organize and codify my thoughts about the theatre. The writing process has been instrumental in helping me to progress throughout my career, helping me secure jobs, win grants and awards, achieve tenure and promotion, and just now, to articulate my philosophy of teaching. I know that if my students master the writing process, they can achieve great things after leaving college.
I rely a great deal on reading and other materials such as media to help guide my teaching and my own continuing education. Over the past twenty years, I have designed lesson plans based upon these materials from course textbooks and other sources. My classes are designed to encourage students to absorb assigned reading materiat either before or after my presentation of the reading material in class, and then task students to demonstrate that they can think critically about the material by applying it to various activities in class, outside of class assignments or tests. Currently, I am in an intense new learning mode in order to develop and deliver courses in Theatre History I and Il, and Senior Capstone I and Il courses. A major part of this has involved seeking assistance from two former BOG Award winners, Dr. Richard Vela and Dr. Weston Cook, both of whom have granted me permission to adapt some of their teaching materials in these new courses. Theatre History is not my specialty, and so I am starting practically from scratch in these courses. Because I have been engaged in “creative work” over my career, I have done very little in the way of formal research and publication, and I am currently learning how to do this on my own so that I might better guide my students in writing substantial and successful research papers. In the process of designing these new courses, I am reminded of how I began my UNCP career by learning to teach Introduction to Theatre and Acting I courses. I believe that I will be able to create a quality of delivery of these new courses in far less than twenty years, but it is interesting to note the similar struggles I face as I strive to obtain mastery over the subject matter.
I think it is extremely important that I maintain a presence on the professional stage, in the television and film industry, both as an actor and director. We are in the business of molding young students into theatre artists. It is important that my students view me as a successful professional who practices what he teaches, that I engage with them as a director and actor, and that I help them understand how to open doors to the profession. To this end, I work professionally every year, most recently in Romeo and Juliet, which was the opening of the Professional Artist Series at the Givens Performing Arts Center in September, 2017. Several UNCP Theatre Majors acted alongside in this production. Moreover, for the past five years I have directed UNCP students in a professional style children’s theatre tour to Manteo, North Carolina. The students are paid a per diem and a stipend for their work. In February of 2018 1 am planning for my student cast to perform a school matinee of A Raisin in the Sun in front of (hopefully) a full house of 1600 high school students. These activities are critical to student learning, as it represents taking theory into professional practice.
It is an honor to be in the teaching profession. As with my desire to act and to make theatre, the process of teaching satisfies in me a need to learn about and define my place in society, and to continually construct meaning through structure and instinct, as I strive to understand my relationship to the universe. I am grateful to the mentors and peers who have helped me as I have traveled along this path. And I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to “play the role” of teacher as my students as I share in the process of learning through reading and writing, research and practice, thinking and learning, and discovering ways to connect with people and find meaning in the human condition.
Brockett, Oscar G. History of the Theatre. Allyn and Bacon, Inc, 1987
Susan M. Sinclair
Profile Position Student learning can be viewed as the successful combination of foundational knowledge with curiosity and motivation. An effective teacher inspires students to see the value of engaging in the course, beyond the letter grade achieved. Inspiration cannot occur without a connection. Therefore, an effective teacher must develop a relationship with students that communicates respect and advocacy for their success.
Student learning can be viewed as the successful combination of foundational knowledge with curiosity and motivation. An effective teacher inspires students to see the value of engaging in the course, beyond the letter grade achieved. Inspiration cannot occur without a connection. Therefore, an effective teacher must develop a relationship with students that communicates respect and advocacy for their success. I approach relationshipbuilding with students with authenticity and transparency. I rely heavily on recounting relevant experiences and sharing my passion for research to encourage critical thinking and impart the value of life-long learning. I view my role as a one that may begin as teacher in the classroom but transitions to mentor and advocate, after the course ends and for some students, well into their careers.
Effective teaching is more than individual success in my courses; it is also measured by success after graduation. My goal is to ensure that clinical research majors have had the learning opportunities, experiences, and mentoring needed for success in the clinical research profession. Students need content mastery, but also strong oral and written communication skills, problem-solving and critical thinking ability, and practice with professionalism. As a faculty member, I embrace my responsibilities for continually assessing and improving the curriculum, using all available program evaluation data. I have led curriculum development activities in the Clinical Research Program through major curriculum revisions, the development and revision of a minor, and the development of a certificate program.
Anchor New Content to Fundamental Concepts and Real World Experiences
Students are not typically familiar with clinical research when they enter the undergraduate program. It is not a subject covered in high school or University Studies. The learning curve can be steep. Relating the course to everyday life, such as the medicine cabinet, the package insert, the nightly news describing breakthrough cancer treatments, is a good first step. However, once we move into the code of federal regulations, study protocols, data analysis, enrolling subjects, and investigational product; corollaries to everyday life become less obvious. I rely on the basic tenants of clinical research including protection of human subjects and medication safety and efficacy to anchor the more complex topics and continually re-emphasize these important, overarching concepts.
Whenever feasible, I incorporate team-based learning and applied learning opportunities to simulate the real-world environment. In 2015, through an ETEAL applied learning project, I redesigned an online writing intensive course to provide real-world experience for undergraduate students. [The proposal is provided in the supporting materials: “3d) Course Materials ETEAL Proposal (funded 2015)”]. Students worked in teams to write a study protocol for a medical device for lung disease under development by a local company. Study protocol writing is a complex process requiring team effort, cross-functional expertise, team interaction, negotiation, and consensus building. Students managed team logistics and demonstrated creativity, thoughtful work, and positive team interactions. Initially, some students were concerned about the potential frustration of group projects, especially in an online course. However, I incorporated tools used in project management to allow student teams to manage timelines, roles, and responsibilities. I also structured the grading rubric to minimize the impact of lowperformers on others.
For selected learning goals, I encourage critical thinking by providing only enough information to allow the student to struggle with the question and formulate a response based on his or her understanding of the problem, as this simulates problem-solving in the real world. Grading rubrics are provided to encourage depth of thought and exploration rather than formulating a right or wrong answer. For project-based work, I remind students that through their diligence, they are becoming subject matter experts and will reasonably exceed my level of expertise on their project. Expressing this to students boosts their confidence and encourages ownership and excellence.
Creativity is required to keep students’ interest in an online research course. Students may struggle if the online learning environment is too homogeneous. I use a variety of media and communication approaches to address the different learning styles represented in each classroom. For example, module overviews, provided in a video and in letter format, are explanatory with informal tone, meant to communicate the goals for the module succinctly. Content is delivered in a variety of ways including reading assignments (e.g., textbook, literature, internet sources), formal recorded lectures, impromptu lectures to address questions or review assignments, and external content from high-quality sources. Learning activities are developed to address the cognitive, psychomotor and affective domains, as delineated in the core competencies. I often include learning activities that require students to use knowledge from prior courses, preceding content within the course, and the life experiences of the student. To promote student engagement and the timely flow of information, I include a “Questions? Ask here.” ungraded discussion forum in each module, in addition to graded discussion forums. I have worked closely with e- Learning over the years and have completed the course, Applying the Quality Matters Rubric. Prior to teaching each semester, I update my courses based on student and peer evaluations and new learning about online pedagogy. I re-evaluate the role of the course in the larger curriculum and initiate discussions with faculty, former students, and community partners to inform my revisions, as appropriate. Following faculty review and approval, I develop course content and opportunities to assess learning to align with course learning outcomes, program learning outcomes, University Studies competencies (as applicable), UNCW learning outcomes, and the profession’s core competencies. [An example of content mapping is provided the supporting materials: “3a) Course Materials CLR 410 Syllabus…” on the last two pages.]
Change is constant in clinical research, which underscores the importance of regularly reviewing and updating the curriculum to ensure that it is current and relevant. Content mapping and curricular alignment to achieve desired outcomes are foundational to my teaching philosophy and one of my strengths. Teaching and revising multiple courses has provided an opportunity to improve quality in the curriculum and mentor other faculty members in teaching. As a leader and the only tenured faculty member in the Clinical Research program, I have buffered staffing shortages by teaching multiple courses. Since I began teaching at UNCW 11 years ago, I have taught 15 different courses, developed nine new courses, and conducted a major revision of six courses. I have designed and implemented two major curriculum revisions including the development and revision of the clinical research minor and a new graduate certificate program.
Mentoring in Teaching
The clinical research field involves a face-paced, competitive work environment that can be both rewarding of successes, but unforgiving of failure. These aspects emphasize the importance of mentoring students to create confidence in the subject matter and ability, improve communication skills, and develop professionalism. I have an open-door policy (and quick email response time) for students to discuss issues related to their courses, internship, and work-life balance. Being available and providing a listening ear and support alleviates unnecessary stress, which can hinder performance and productivity. At times, simply providing a one- or two-day extension on an assignment can enhance the learning activity for the individual student. To best prepare students for their internships and subsequent careers, I require professional writing style in discussion postings and email correspondence with the intent of shaping this practice into habit.
My teaching expertise is highly valued. Currently, I currently teach in three programs (Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Clinical Research and Doctor of Nursing Practice). Teaching across programs has provided opportunities to learn and contribute from multiple perspectives. As a life-long learner, I continually evaluate successes, failures, new technologies, and developments in online pedagogy. Through professional developments available at UNCW and externally, I plan to continue to grow as an effective teacher, focusing my learning efforts on effective online learning strategies.
UNC School of the Arts
Howard C. Jones
Teaching and designing are really the same process in my mind. Hopefully each design is unique and it is designer’s job to help his team to understand his vision and provide a way to achieve it with his drawing, drafting and color. It is visual language that communicates the outcome. So not only are we teaching a foundation of skills but also a way to communicate the design.
Teaching and Designing
Teaching and designing are really the same process in my mind. Hopefully each design is unique and it is designer’s job to help his team to understand his vision and provide a way to achieve it with his drawing, drafting and color. It is visual language that communicates the outcome. So not only are we teaching a foundation of skills but also a way to communicate the design. We also create questions on how the design will be achieved. So problem solving is a key ingredient to producing a piece of artwork from the page to the stage.
As a very wise mentor of mine said that an educated man does not know all the facts but he knows how to find them. So I try to make sure that my students learn to be curious, to find the information they need, to experiment and read “the simple directions”. After students graduate from school there no longer is a teacher to guide you so it is important that students learn how to do that for themselves. With the wild advance in technology and more modern materials we are always presented with the challenge of learning something new. Evan when we get a new phone we are challenged with a new process to learn.
In teaching painting and design the first step is a solid foundation. That foundation is drawing, drafting and color and design. They need the skill of eye hand coordination and careful observation to draw. Drafting is the visual language that let us communicate three dimensional objects in a two dimension format. And color and design are the elements, principles and theories that allow us to analyze a piece of artwork for meaning and content. That combination then can elevate the conversation and lead to developing those skills to a much higher level. There are always basic facts that are needed on command but then it is the curiosity, research and experimentation of a topic that is key to advancing the skills and crafts of the artist.
Western Carolina University
I’ll be honest: I wanted to teach college English from the moment that I declared my major, in my junior year at Appalachian State University, after being a biology major and then a psychology major. I loved words, language, the amazing skills of my English professors, and the way they explored connections between different texts, …
I’ll be honest: I wanted to teach college English from the moment that I declared my major, in my junior year at Appalachian State University, after being a biology major and then a psychology major. I loved words, language, the amazing skills of my English professors, and the way they explored connections between different texts, but more importantly how they explored connections between texts and the lived experiences of different peoples, at different times, with different agendas, under varied circumstances. As Margaret Atwood notes, “a word, after a word, after a word, is power,” and being an English professor, I have always known, is about teaching literary texts, certainly, but it is also about teaching students to be empowered to read the world as text, as evidence of the ways that human beings interact, negotiate, navigate, and most importantly empathize with the complex circumstances that we encounter every day. It comes as no surprise to me that scientists determined that reading fiction – and I would add teaching it – increases the reader’s capacity for empathy.
Being at WCU has afforded me some amazing opportunities to work with and mentor students at all levels and in a wide variety of courses, from first year-composition classes, to liberal studies perspectives courses, to undergraduate courses in the major, to graduate seminars. In this narrative, I would like to discuss three specific aspects of my pedagogy as it has evolved and been shaped by and during my time at WCU: incorporating high impact practices to increase my students’ understanding of their place in a global and culturally diverse world (in part to ensure their success in that world after they leave my classroom); working collaboratively across disciplines to expand the pedagogical realm of humanities-based inquiry; and developing courses that further the study of literature as a socially-engaged activist endeavor that necessitates civic and scholarly engagement.
high impact practices to increase my students’ understanding of their
place in a global and culturally diverse world
I was hired as the English Department’s only non-Western literature specialist in 2005. Since my primary area of expertise is postcolonial literature, particularly literatures of South Africa, Nigeria, India, and the Pacific Rim, my teaching has always come from a diverse global perspective. I have developed numerous world literature courses at all levels from English 242, “Cultural Studies and Non-Western Literature,” a core course in the major, to English 672, a graduate seminar in African Literature, all of which are writing intensive, global in focus, dependent upon student collaboration, and deeply invested in producing quality student research. My assignments require that my students make investigative comparisons between literary representation of other places and peoples, and the political and social spaces occupied by my students themselves.
In English 242, we study how “Africa,” a continent with over 50 distinct countries, is often depicted as a homogenous entity in such texts as Joseph Conrad’s 1902 The Heart of Darkness and the 2007 Vanity Fair “Africa” edition – and how such images are satirized in the 2010 film Get Him to the Greek and Binyavanga Wainaina’s 2005 hilariously satirical essay “How to Write about Africa.” For the final cultural studies assignment in this course, students find an example of a social norm described in one of the works that we have read – for example, I offer them the suggestion of yams being associated with masculinity in Igbo culture (something they encounter in novels by Chinua Achebe) – research it, and then compare it to a norm that is familiar to them (for example, meat being associated with masculinity in the U.S.). This project requires that they also find a representation in the contemporary media that reinforces that norm (an advertisement like this one, for example). My students love this assignment, as it allows them to engage with non-Western literature, their own Western identities, and popular culture.
From my early training as a composition instructor, I have maintained the practice of requiring multiple drafts of essay in all of my undergraduate classes, regardless of level, so that I can provide formative feedback prior to their final submission, and this process has ensured strong final essay submissions that are regularly accepted for presentation at WCU’s Undergraduate Expo and at NCUR. This year, I required that my entire English 463, “Contemporary Literature” course submit abstracts to the department’s Senior Seminar Conference; as a result, eight of my students presented their work just last week. My graduate students write conference length papers for their first assignment, and publication length-papers for their final. I have had students in sections of my English 673, “Postcolonial Literature” and 672, “African Literature” seminars present their work at national conferences, including the British Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies Conference (BCPSC) as well as the biennial African Literature Association Conference. In the section of 673 that I am currently teaching, three of my students just proposed a panel for this year’s BCPSC, which will take place in February.
Finally, in both fall of 2016 and spring of 2017, students in my English 470, Postcolonial Literature, and English 242 courses attended numerous events associated with the Africa campus theme, including travelling to Folkmoot in Waynesville for a special audience with the Nile Project ahead of an evening concert. We met with the group in order to learn about water resource conflicts and the relationship these conflicts have with political, cultural, and colonial difference. Further, as co-chair of the Africa: More than a Continent campus theme committee, I collaborated with colleagues and students from all across the university to develop a two-year program that introduced all students – actually, the entirety of the WCU community – to Africa. Students had opportunities to attend numerous events, lectures, and exhibits; they got to eat African fare at the UC Dining Hall, to engage with African cultures via a series of displays in the library, to attend a talk by the 2015-2016 One Book author Dayo Olopade, and to study abroad in Kenya, South Africa, and Botswana. This work infused every aspect of my day to day teaching, but it also allowed me to develop programming designed to reach the WCU community as a whole.
- Working collaboratively across disciplines to expand the pedagogical realm of humanities-based inquiry
Since coming to WCU, I have developed a secondary area of pedagogical and scholarly interest: environmental literature. As a result, I have developed a 200-level Liberal Studies environmental literature course (English 206) and a graduate seminar (English 663) in environmental literature. In my environmental literature classes, students analyze literary and scientific representations of environment, climate, and ecology. In the context of these courses, my students have taken field trips to Animal Haven of Asheville, contacted and visited Eustace Conway at Turtle Mountain Preserve, and attended ecofeminist Carol J. Adams’s lecture in November of 2013. As a result of teaching English 206, students asked me to serve as advisor to the Food Choice Club, and I am working with several of these students as they develop a Sustainable Energy Initiative focused on bringing more sustainable food options to WCU.
Because my teaching in this field deals with the environment and sustainability, it has allowed me to pedagogically collaborate with faculty from other disciplines, particular faculty in the sciences. I worked across disciplines with three STEM colleagues at different universities on an NSF grant funded teaching module that brought climate change fiction (cli-fi) into sciences courses. The module is designed to be completed in introductory natural science classes where literature is not typically included as well as in humanities classes where climate change science is not normally addressed. Students engage in activities that address both climate change science and climate change fiction (cli-fi), including graphing data, working in groups to analyze and interpret data, creating a concept map, conducting rhetorical literary analyses, and blogging. These materials were published in 2016, were featured on Climate.gov, and are available free of charge to any teacher who wants to use them. What my collaborators and I hope to convey to our students are the ways that science and literature convey different kinds of truths – ones that can help us move forward in productive ways – about the same complex issue.
I piloted the module prior to publication in an unlikely class, my African Literature graduate seminar in the fall of 2015, even though the course material was not particularly amenable to the pilot. But because Global Climate Change Conference in Paris also occurred during that semester, my class used that event to consider the global consequences, politics, and intercultural interactions of multiple nations as they tried to work toward a protocol for dealing with the consequences of climate change. For this course, I had chosen literature from various countries in Africa that engage with environmental issues, many of which are the product of, or exacerbated by, climate change. Such works include Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s Petals of Blood, Sindwe Magona’s Mother to Mother, and Zakes Mda’s The Heart of Redness, but my students noted that the short stories that my science colleagues and I included in our module are written by authors from the United States and England. So my students engaged with and challenged the fact that “cli-fi” is a specifically Western genre, written by white authors from the United States and England; they discovered that there is no “international” or even “African” literary understanding of the genre. As a result, several of my students wrote their final papers on the role of climate change in African literary texts – an area of original inquiry unexplored up to that point. The experience was so pedagogically important, that at the 2015 Association of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) Conference, I presented pedagogically focused work about this experience on a panel that explored best practices in teaching “cli-fi.”
- Developing courses that
further the study of literature as a socially-engaged activist endeavor
that necessitates civic and scholarly engagement
Various scholars have examined how majoring in English and writing constitutes an activist endeavor. My courses encourage a social and political engagement characterized by empathy, civil discourse, and informed positionality. For example, in my world literature courses, my students push back against the narratives they receive from the news media, from Hollywood, and from social media about other cultures, and the first thing that we do is watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk “The Danger of a Single Story” in order to recognize the need for multiple perspectives and narratives to keep us from making uninformed assumptions about other cultures and peoples.
In my environmental literature courses, the first thing that my students do is take a carbon footprint quiz, which completely blows their minds; many of them learn that if everyone on the planet lived lives like theirs, we would need four or five or six Earths in order to accommodate the resource consumption.
Students read regionally significant works like Ron Rash’s Serena, a novel about the environmental and social toll of the logging industry in WNC during the Great Depression, and Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, a novel about climate change, butterfly migration patterns, and Appalachia. And they read international works, like Helen Simpson’s “Diary of an Interesting Year,” and J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K. They attend lectures during the Rooted in the Mountains symposium, participate in the Tuck River Cleanup, and collaborate with their peers to develop action plans to make their lives at WCU more sustainable.
Finally, this semester, for the first time, I am teaching my English 463 class as “Literature and Resistance.” Using Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States as a reference throughout the semester, my students explore U.S. history as defined by resistance movements. Beginning with Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” a story about a man who consistently states, “I prefer not to” (and was embraced as the literary mascot of the Occupy Wall Street movement), the novels that we read explore real and imagined acts of resistance including Toni Morrison’s masterpiece Beloved about a runaway slave’s act of murderous defiance, to Edward Abbey’s satirical The Monkey Wrench Gang about a madcap attempt to blow up the environmentally devastating Glen Canyon Dam in Utah. My students are currently working on a collaborative assignment based on the work of scholar activists who created the Charleston Syllabus after white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered African American parishioners in 2015. The syllabus was designed to provide educators and the public what an extensive list of resources to help contextualize the event. My class worked together to choose two topics and divided into groups to develop strategies for creating two syllabi: one on the controversy surrounding the NFL protests and one on the reasons behind and circumstances following the Women’s March in January of 2017. They are collaboratively working via Google docs to compile, edit, and arrange their information, which we hope to publish for public consumption and information after Thanksgiving. This assignment constitutes activism on the part of my students; they are providing multiple perspectives so that interested parties might avoid the “danger of a single story” and have better informed discussions about these particular issues.
I have been teaching college English for nearly a quarter of a century – I had to stop and read that about three times before I could continue – since 1992, first as an MA candidate at East Carolina University, a lecturer at North Carolina State University, a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and a visiting Assistant Professor at Wagner College on Staten Island – where I taught in my first learning community – before coming to Western Carolina University, my father’s alma mater, in 2005. My pedagogical focus has shifted over that time, but since I’ve been at WCU, my pedagogy has been increasingly concerned with questions that explore and critique the politics and fluidity of borders between peoples, cultures, institutions, and individuals as represented in literary and media-based texts and as experienced within the day-to-day lives of my students.
During my second year as a lecturer in the English Department at North Carolina State University, I got a call from a local newspaper asking if I would say a few words about my teaching experiences and philosophy as someone who both belonged to “Generation X” and who taught Generation X-age students. The Gen X hype was still a big deal in 1996, and the call was prompted by the release of Peter Sacks’s book, Generation X Goes to College: An Eye Opening Account of Teaching in Postmodern America (Open Court, 1996), a text that questions and critiques many of the negative stereotypes often attributed to the generation of students born roughly between 1960 and 1980. In 1996, I told the reporter that those of us within the academy, like the students we teach, are neither homogenous nor distinct; we are an interdependent community whose interactions should, by their mutually critical nature, expose the limitations of stereotypical thinking while simultaneously enhancing respect for individuality.
In the years since I gave that interview, I have continued to maintain this philosophy and believe that no matter how much distance – chronological, aesthetic, or political – opens up between my students and myself over the course of my teaching career, I will never stop viewing my students as complex people with real-life sets of circumstances that shape them as scholars and as individuals whose life experiences inform the work they do in the classroom. At the end of every semester, my students have to tell me what I need to read, and they have to write me a letter telling me what they have learned, while I write to them telling them what they have taught me. As I stated in my initial narrative to this committee, perhaps because I have been teaching for so long, I view the world as a teacher; I find that nearly everything I encounter – whether on the news, while on a hike, or while buying groceries – is a potential teachable moment. If the entire world is a collection of constantly changing texts, teaching them can never get old, even as I grow older and, I hope, a bit wiser.
Winston-Salem State University
Cynthia S. Bell
There are many influences that have shaped who I am as a teacher and even more that have impacted me as the person I am today. For the purpose of this portrayal of my teaching philosophy I will focus on how an occupation-based model has impacted my teaching and mentoring of occupational therapy students.
There are many influences that have shaped who I am as a teacher and even more that have impacted me as the person I am today. For the purpose of this portrayal of my teaching philosophy I will focus on how an occupation-based model has impacted my teaching and mentoring of occupational therapy students. By the end of this document and through reading the letters of support and peer evaluations, readers will get a feel for the strategies I employ to incorporate WSSU’s values of Student-Centeredness; Excellence; Stewardship; Integrity; Social Justice; and Trust in my approach to teaching. Readers will also understand my intentional approach to address the WSSU Strategic Plan’s goal 2: Enhance Quality of Graduate Education, and specific OT Departmental goals under this particular university goal:
1. OT Department will provide transformative academic experiences for graduate student education through teaching and community engagement
1e. Faculty will infuse technology tools for teaching and course delivery (i.e. EMR, eportfolios, etc.); and
3. OT Department will foster collaborative partnerships to promote professional and community service, leadership and research
3f. Faculty and staff will engage in ongoing professional and/or community service
3g. Foster student leadership in state, national and international organizations
4. OT Department will build interprofessional (IP) learning opportunities with undergraduate and graduate programs
4b. Facilitate integration of IP learning activities across disciplines
Being an Occupational Therapist
As a master’s degree trained occupational therapist, my work with students began when I took on the role as the Clinical Coordinator for Occupational Therapy Students at Moses Cone Hospital. While working with students directly and mentoring clinicians who took on students themselves I realized I wanted to contribute to the continuing growth of my profession by pursuing a career in academia. I began at WSSU in 1998 as an Assistant Professor and the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFWC). In 2001 I furthered my education in occupational therapy by starting a PhD program with a focus in occupational therapy. In 2004, I returned to clinical practice full-time while working on my dissertation, but found I missed the challenge and stimulation of academia and was fortunate enough to return to WSSU’s OT program in 2005 again as the AFWC/Assistant Professor. I completed my PhD in 2006 and wanted to use more of my knowledge and skills gained during my doctorate. In 2011, I moved into a more direct teaching position within the OT department.
This background is significant because through my doctoral coursework I not only gained further in-depth knowledge about occupational-based theories and models, but I also took a course on educational pedagogy. That course was pivotal for me to gain additional confidence as an educator. One of my assignments involved taking an occupation-based theoretical model and applying it to teaching in some way. To this day, I am still building on that assignment as I write this narrative. The WSSU MSOT curriculum is embedded with an occupation-based model called the Person-Environment-Occupation (PEO) model (Law et al., 1996) and therefore this C. Bell Portfolio for BOG Award has a heavy influence on how I teach and work with students. Occupational therapy theory, practice and research has increasingly emphasized the transactional relationship between person, environment and occupation. Occupational performance results from the dynamic relationship between a person, his or her occupations and roles, and the environments in which he or she live, go to school, work and play. I will go into more depth to describe the various components of the PEO model and provide support materials in the appendices of this portfolio.
The person is a unique being who assumes multiple roles and cannot be separated from contextual influences. The person brings to the context a set of attributes, skills, knowledge and experience. For me, I try to get to know the “person” in each of my students. I try to understand what motivates and drives them as well as what life experiences they have encountered. I work hard for each of them to know their experiences can bring significant contributions to our class discussions. It is also extremely important that each student feels comfortable in my classroom. By comfortable, I mean willing to be himself or herself and actively participate regardless of their confidence in their knowledge on a topic. There are two ways I would like to highlight that I utilize to begin getting to know each of them as a student and an individual. The first is an assignment prior to the New OT student orientation. This assignment asks students to complete the Index of Learning Style (ILS) (Felder & Soloman, 1988). The ILS has been used by the OT program for about ten years and was selected because of the research supporting the instrument as well as the descriptive articles available to educate students on their learning preferences. Students post their individual learning profiles from their results of the ILS inventory on a google doc, which then becomes a class composite that is shared with the cohort and faculty. These composites are documents I refer to frequently while planning my teaching so I can appeal to students’ learning preferences. This ILS assignment is posted through the Cohort Blackboard portal, which I also developed to try to build a cohort or class community before they ever even come to campus. The MSOT Cohort Blackboard portal (2016-2018, 2017-2019) initially provides an online orientation for campus wide and MSOT departmental information, but then serves as a depository or resource center for each cohort. This portal remains a communication center for announcements and forms that is available for all OT faculty and the cohort throughout their time as a student.
The second way I get to know the students early on is through inviting them to share who they are. This assignment was traditionally due on the first day of the OCC 5303: Analysis of Occupation course. Typically, I post an announcement on the Blackboard course or send an email to the class asking each student to bring three items or artifacts that are meaningful to him/her or represent who they are as an occupational being. We then begin class by getting in a large circle and sharing a comment or two about the objects. For many, it reminds them of the nostalgia of “show and tell” but I have had some students who share very personal feats like being a cancer survivor, or share a piece of jewelry from a parent who passed away, or a photograph of a pet. This year due to the success of the “Get to know you” activity and past comments from students, we moved this activity to our new student orientation. All faculty and even several second year students participated. The activity took over an hour, but served as a meaningful exchange which set the tone for our expectations of them as a person and student in the program and as a member of the OT family. Many of the incoming students offered positive C. Bell Portfolio for BOG Award feedback to continue this meaningful activity on their “New Student Orientation surveys”. Therefore this will continue as a tradition for our new student orientation sessions.
The second component of the PEO model is environment. Environment is the context within which occupational performance takes. Occupational performance results from interactions between the person and the environments in which he or she carries out tasks and roles (Law et al., 1997). The environment represents the “physical-sensory-socio-cultural phenomenon within which occupational performance occurs” (Chapparo & Ranka, 1997). As described in these models, the environments consist of internal and external factors that must be considered as student’s occupational roles are developed. I see many opportunities that I can facilitate learning by paying attention to the environment, both internal and external. Internal environment is composed of “structures, conditions and influences that are found within the curriculum” (Chapparo & Ranka, 1997, p. 5). These include educational activities, instructional strategies, curriculum objectives and resources. Within the internal environment student knowledge, skills, values and attitudes are considered. Integration of these components culminates in students’ performance of roles. For our curriculum, we have designated those roles as practitioner, educator/learner, researcher and administrator. Each of our courses emphasizes development of at least one of these roles and sometimes more than one. In my teaching strategies, I intentionally plan active and reflective learning segments to reinforce learning of material and I use a variety of instructional methods such as, inquiry learning, case study, interactive lecture, didactic laboratory experiences and group work. One of these methods featured on my videos is the 5-minute recall exercise used at the start of class throughout the semester. This exercise asks students to brainstorm topics covered so far in the course. Initially they are not to use their notes or each other, however they can write the topics down. Then I ask for volunteers to share their topics and either they describe them or I go into a brief description. This allows content covered at the beginning of the course to stay fresh in students’ minds as well as allow them to make connections with how the earlier content connects to current topics. Students have continually commented on course evaluations that this 5-minute recall activity was beneficial and should be continued.
The external environment is composed of structures, conditions and influences that surround educational activities and tasks (Chapparo & Ranka, 1997). In terms of my teaching, I see this as preparing students to assume their occupational role, it is necessary to consider the immediate and long-term practice environments. The climate of healthcare is ever changing, therefore, I feel compelled to try to keep a pulse on what are the current best practices, professional issues regionally, nationally and internationally. My involvement at a national level with the AOTA Volunteer Leadership Development Committee, keeps me well connected and in the know of professional issues. It also allows me to model active professional engagement for our students which supports the OT Departmental Strategic Plan goals of 3-3f and 3g as stated in my opening paragraph. My networking on a national level has kept me abreast of various opportunities to invite our MSOT students to get involved at a National level. Recently, I was able to nominate one of our MSOT students, Leah Pelletier, for the AOTA Emerging Leaders Development Program. This is a very competitive program of applicants from all across the United States. Leah was selected and participated in the initial workshop last in August 2017 and C. Bell Portfolio for BOG Award immediately posted this with a photograph to Facebook “I’m still wrapping my mind around the past few days at AOTA’s Emerging Leaders Development Program. So inspired, self-aware, and motivated to embrace this next year and honored to have met so many excellent leaders and emerging leaders (pictured in a photo with current AOTA President Amy Lamb and Vice President Shawn Phipps).
As a clinician working with elderly, I determined I needed to gain all of the knowledge and skills I could with the escalating numbers of elderly living with dementia. Becoming certified as a dementia training in 2012 and then recertifying in 2016. In spring of 2017 my work bringing a dementia course to our OT students also brought recognition to WSSU as the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI): Dementia Capable Program designated WSSU as a Dementia Capable Society Leader. The WSSU website did a feature article on the students that received their dementia capable care provider certificates and the story was posted on the UNC system website in May, 2017. My advanced certification in dementia allows me a unique opportunity to share how that condition is crossing all arenas of practice and led me to develop a special topic course focused on dementia. In this course, students learn about the different forms of dementia, how to best work with individuals with dementia and their caregivers, and then get an opportunity to go out into the community to work with individuals with dementia, engage in reflection after each visit to a related reflection discussion board prompt, and then integrate concepts and materials learned in the course in a final case study assignment. Once student have completed the CPI workbook they are eligible to take an additional exam through the CPI Dementia Care Specialist organization to gain a Dementia Care Specialist certificate. Again, student feedback supports continuing and even expanding this offering. A goal of mine is to see an interdisciplinary certificate offering in the area of dementia.
The healthcare practice arena and current healthcare climate demands efficiency. I would like to address the external influence areas of interprofessional teamwork and technology. Effective practice includes working as part of an interprofessional team. In recent years, interprofessional education (IPE) experiences have been mandated by the occupational therapy educational accreditation standards. Recent research Endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), IPE refers to educational activities where students from two or more health professions are engaged in shared learning (WHO, 2010). The goal of IPE is to prepare health professions students for deliberately working together with the ultimate aim of building a safe, patient centered health care environment (Interprofessional Education Collaborative, 2011). As stated in the opening section, the OT department has a strategic initiative related to interprofessional education. Specifically the goals state: 4) OT Department will build interprofessional (IP) learning opportunities with undergraduate and graduate programs and sub goal 4b. Facilitate integration of IP learning activities across disciplines. The OT and PT department have several experiences designed to build upon team collaboration. Faculty must intentionally structure shared learning experiences to promote IPE. The structured shared learning process enables students to acquire knowledge, skills and professional attitudes which help them comprehend the complexities of working in a multiprofessional environment (Horsburgh, R. Lamdin & E. Williamson, 2001). In an effort to develop additional IPE in my courses, last spring Dr. Leslie Allison from PT and I began developing a new IPE assignment into our fall courses. We assigned small groups of OT and PT students to collaborate on developing short self-care or mobility based video clips. Those videos were then watched together and the groups further collaborated on responses regarding what functional level (FIM) was depicted on the videos. Our post experience evaluation methods included a faculty debriefing session and post-experience student feedback survey. OT student feedback was extremely positive in regards to feeling more confident in assessing patients function according to the FIM criteria and continuing this as an IPE experience was definitely supported in the comments. Here is a sampling of what was shared “Definitely do it again! It was great being able to collaborate and think through scenarios with the PTs. I liked how each group gave their own rationale as to why they chose the FIM score that they did. I also liked the use of TopHat for the other groups to participate”, and “I appreciated that after each video there was a brief discussion if everyone wasn’t on board. It helped to understand the FIM more when we discussed it after each video. I know it made the session longer, but that is when I learned the most from it.” I am excited that the intended learning objectives were achieved and students perceived the value of the assignment as well as the group process undertaken to achieve the objectives.
Technology is changing the delivery of healthcare in today’s society. This is one of the reasons the OT department included Goal 1) OT Department will provide transformative academic experiences for graduate student education and sub goal 1e. Faculty will infuse technology tools for teaching and course delivery (i.e. EMR, e-portfolios, etc.) in our strategic priorities. I will detail a few of the types of technology I use in my instruction. Electronic health records (EHR) are federally mandated, more health consumers have access to the internet, smartphones and tablets which supports the integration of using these devices into patient interventions. I have implemented electronic health records software, called Fusion Web first into my courses and now into the OT department as other faculty build assignments using the electronic health record. I worked with our Academic Fieldwork Coordinator who used the software for a student during her level II community placement, and the student wrote-up her evaluations, progress notes and discharge summaries. In spring of 2016, I was awarded a PDC grant to research integrating our OT departmental iPads into a couple of my courses. The study involved pre and post survey of students in my OCC 6313 and 5309 courses. The funding was used to buy a charging cabinet for the eleven iPads, cases with Bluetooth keyboards and to support the buying of apps for use in the classroom and in therapeutic interventions. Since many health facilities are using point of service documentation on tablets, I felt it was important to equip our students to work effectively with the iPads the OT department had purchased. In the OCC 6313: OT Interventions-Adult course students are paired and then have ten minutes to find a free app on the iPad that could be used to support an individual who survived a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The students then have to do a “quick pitch” about the app and why it is appropriate for use with the TBI population. Students have found apps addressing problemsolving, sequencing, perceptual and visual issues, etc.. Additional technology assists me in the class management and grading. I have used an app based quiz grading software called ZipGrade that provides instant scoring using my cell phone or tablet and immediate test analysis. Students appreciate the timeliness of knowing their quiz grades before leaving class that day. Most recently, this fall OT students have subscribed to TopHat student engagement software. This technology allows me to take attendance by having student’s text a randomly presented four digit code, as well as allows me to present questions for formative and summative evaluation in a variety of student response formats. My use of technology in the classroom lead to an invitation to present at the 2018 American Occupational Therapy Association’s annual conference on a panel for Education Special Interest Section titled “Beyond Clickers and Flipped Classrooms: Innovative Technology in Occupational Therapy Education”.
The above IPE and technology example demonstrates how I continue to expand technology and interprofessional collaborative experiences to meet the OT departmental goals (1.1e, 4.4b) and work toward WSSU Goal 2: Enhance the quality of graduate education by incorporating current external environmental factors into my teaching.
The last component of the PEO model is occupation. The term is not simply related to work or employment, but is actually related to how individuals “occupy” their time. Another way to describe occupation is self-directed and meaningful tasks or activities engaged in throughout a lifespan (Law et al, 1996). Occupations are engaged in to satisfy an intrinsic need for selfmaintenance, expression, and life satisfaction and they are carried out within multiple contexts in fulfillment of developmentally appropriate roles. One of the specific occupations included in the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (AOTA, 2014), which delineates the domain and process of the profession, is participating in formal education. The description given states “Participating in academic (e.g., math, reading, degree coursework), nonacademic (e.g. recess, lunchroom, hallway), extracurricular (e.g., sports, band, cheerleading, dances), and vocational (prevocational and vocational) educational activities” (AOTA, 2014, p S21). Another listed occupation is employment interest and pursuits and the description with it states “Identifying and selecting work opportunities based on assets, limitations, likes, and dislikes relative to work (AOTA, 2014, adapted from Mosey, 1996, p. 342)”. I include both of these because I feel the utmost duty to the profession to address the formal educational aspect, including the extra-curricular aspects of my students education in order to fully prepare them for employment and know what type of role or practice setting within occupational therapy they may be interested in pursuing. I feel I do this very intentionally in a number of ways. One is in class by sharing my experiences as a clinician in every class session I teach. Another way is by modeling my volunteer leadership within the profession and working with the student leaders to realize their potential if they are interested in pursuing leadership roles. Kylie O’Connell Sleeth who was the WSSU Assembly of Student Delegate for the AOTA and we had several discussions about her interest in serving the profession in a more formal way. She ran and was elected as the national Vice-Chair for the Assembly of Student Delegates. She graduated several years ago, but has continued her leadership path with state level involvement. I connected her at an AOTA Leadership networking reception with several members integral to the AOTA Emerging Leaders Development Program, and the next time she applied she was accepted.
A more recent example involves a current MSOT student, Michael Pegg, who served as a graduate research student with me during the 2015-2016 academic year. His project was a joint project between National Ambucs (a service organization, national headquarters are in High Point, NC) and WSSU OT program. I serve as a research advisor to the AMBUCS Amtryke board. The amtryke is a therapeutic tricycle that AMBUCS Chapters fundraise and give away to individuals with special needs. This project involved modifying a previously used survey aimed at gathering perspectives from parents and riders about the experience of using an amtryke. The survey was deployed last spring and we wrote up an executive summary. The project was so well received by the national office they invited us to present at their annual conference, expenses paid in Tucson, AZ. Unfortunately I could not attend, but worked with Michael to groom him for his presentation, which was October, 2016. Not only did he present, but he assisted with a conference events like the veteran’s ride and the amtryke rodeo (a tricycle give-a-way event), and he was the only student representative at the conference.
Yet another way I mentor my student’s occupational endeavors is through my student research projects in the courses OCC 5212: Conducting Occupation-based Research and OCC 6215: Research Writing and Dissemination. As a program, I feel it is extremely important to engage in occupation-based research that students will find meaningful and that will contribute to their understanding and skill development. As a qualitative researcher, many of my student projects tend to be qualitative in nature or involve mixed methods. Some of the titles from past projects are: Quality of Life and Health Perceptions of Recently Displaced Residents of an Assisted Living Facility (2016); Adaptive Nintendo® Wii™: Experiences of Adults with Orthoneurological Disorders in Assisted Living (2015); Quality of Life and Health Perceptions of Adults with Physical Disabilities Living in an Assisted Living Facility (2014); The Physical, Social, And Emotional Impact of the Use of a Therapeutic Tricycle on Children: Parents’ Perspectives (2013, 2017); The Effects of Nintendo™ Wii on Quality of Life, Social Relationships and Confidence to Prevent Falls (2010). Each one of these projects involved students gaining a better understanding of others as occupational beings, sometimes it involved the use of interview instruments, sometimes activities like playing the Nintendo Wii with elderly or with severely physically disabled which then meant students also had to learn about how to handle someone with severe spasticity or dysarthric speech. I am proud that each one of my student research projects has a lasting impact on the students.
PEO as a Curriculum Model
There is more significance to the PEO model and that is the MSOT curriculum is based upon this model. I already mentioned the roles that are identified and tied to specific courses. However, there are additional ways in which the program weaves the PEO model throughout our curriculum. Three years ago, we had a consultant come who worked with us on a curriculum review. The outcome after 2 days was that we were all satisfied with our curriculum and our curriculum model, however, it was not especially explicit throughout our program content. We identified some specific tasks to work toward making the PEO more evident to students. A graphic representation of our version of the PEO model was developed. One of my tasks was to develop an assignment to teach first year OT students about the curriculum model. I do this in the OCC 5303: Analysis of Occupation course. It is a natural fit as all semester, students are learning to analyze various aspects of occupation from cooking, outings to crafts. This particular assignment is the feature of the other video on the USB drive. The assignment I developed involves assigning pre-work to students ahead of time. The various components of the curriculum model graphic are assigned to students so that each small group has 1-2 students assigned to a component part. Students gather as much information about the component he or she was assigned and brings notes to class. Students also read 2 articles on the PEO model. One article is about the model and another is a series of case studies using the PEO model. During class, the students get into their groups and each group has cut-out components of the model to organize on a poster. They collaborate on how to best describe the components on the poster. Once the posters are complete, a representative from the group presents the poster to the entire class. Then I follow with a brief lecture to solidify the key points.
The graphic model is threaded throughout courses in the remaining semesters. For example, I have incorporated a cover sheet where students have to respond to the PEO components for cases in the OCC 5309: Movement Components of Occupation as well as the OCC 6313: Occupational Therapy Adult Practice courses.
Conclusion and Additional Supporting Materials
I have presented my teaching philosophy using the PEO model. By doing so, I feel students experience the model themselves throughout the curriculum and can then gain personal experience with it and how it applies to occupational therapy practice. Additional support materials for my effectiveness at using this model and addressing students as occupational beings include a Midterm Assessment Plan (MAP-done through CETL), and mid-term feedback solicited on my own, Peer and Chair evaluations and letter from a co-instructor, and Advising Evaluations, Advising evaluations and additional letters of support for my nomination from current students (2016 and 2017). It is my hope that the evidence I provided herein supports my efforts to contribute in numerous ways to WSSU’s and OT’s strategic goals to “enhance graduate education” and provide transformative education to our students.
American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).(2014).Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (3rd ed.).
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68(Suppl.1), S1– S48.http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.682006
Chapparo, C., & Ranka, J. (1997). Occupational performance model (Australia) Definition. Monograph 1: OP Network: The University of Sydney-Australia. Felder, R. &
Soloman, B, (1988). Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education, Engr. Education, 78(7), 674-681.
Horsburgh, M., Lamdin, R., & Williamson, E. (2001). Multiprofessional learning: the attitudes of medical, nursing and pharmacy students to shared learning. Medical Education, 35(9), 876-883.
Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel. (2011). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: Report of an expert panel. Washington, D.C.: Interprofessional Education Collaborative.
Law M, Cooper B, Strong S, Stewart D, Rigby P, Letts L. (1996). The Person-Environment- Occupational Model: A transactive approach to occupational performance. CJOT 63(1), 9- 23.
World Health Organization Definition of Interprofessional Education. WHO Study Group on Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice, 2010. Retrieved from World Wide Web https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interprofessional_education.
NC School of Science and Mathematics
Amy L. Sheck
The goal of my teaching is to bring students to the point where they can go out into the world and engage in meaningful and informed scientific discourse with college professors, scientists, and their peers. This involves introducing them to the specific subculture of ideas, practices, and habits of mind that underpin each course.
The goal of my teaching is to bring students to the point where they can go out into the world and engage in meaningful and informed scientific discourse with college professors, scientists, and their peers. This involves introducing them to the specific subculture of ideas, practices, and habits of mind that underpin each course. For example, in Evolution the focus is on the dynamics of change, and in Research in Biology (RBio) the focus is on crafting meaningful questions and devising ways to answer them. A second goal is to make students feel that they are a part of the scientific community by providing them with hands-on experiences and empowering them with the tools and techniques to answer their own questions. My third goal is to create memorable experiences that arise from a classroom environment where students participate, take initiative, have fun, and rise to a challenge. And finally, my last goal is to create opportunities for students to extend their learning outside of the classroom so that students can find ways to express their interests, gain recognition, and develop character.
I believe that I am a guide for my students; that the art of teaching involves providing structure and pacing, choosing the best learning materials, and crafting meaningful and timely activities. I believe that students learn best when their curiosity is piqued, when there is something that connects to their life, when they feel the need to know something, and when they have taken initiative. I believe that students need multiple modes of engaging with the subject matter and benefit from seeing the same idea from more than one perspective. And finally, I believe that students learn in the process of writing down what they know and especially from teaching what they know.
Summary Statement of Excellence in Teaching with Emphasis on Methods
Promoting Scientific Discourse – I use a variety of approaches to engage students in deep thinking and conversation. These include Socratic lecture, small group work, ‘think-pair-share’, guided reading followed by discussion, and role modeling.
Become a Part of the Scientific Community – I give students the core experimental skills, have them design their own experiments, and report results in the context of the scientific literature. For example in EvoTops, I introduce them to a photosynthetic bacterium that spontaneously mutates. Students work in groups to design and conduct their own experiments followed by analysis and presentation. In RBio, I set up mentoring relationships between seniors and juniors.
Memorable Experiences – These experiences include field trips, public speaking, teaching, and mini-activities that evoke emotions to facilitate memory. For example, students remember learning about blind and double-blind experiments; we use the Coke-Pepsi preference test and covertly introduce bias to manipulate students into choosing their non-preferred drink.
Creating Opportunities – I create opportunities for research, scholarships, leadership, and teaching. Examples include the Microbe miniterm that brings students into contact with university professors and graduate students and has led to some award-winning research projects; I organize the NCSEF Regional Fair and support others that result in scholarships; I created new leadership opportunities with the TEDxNCSSM student organizing committee and Science Communicators, and I provide rich teaching opportunities for my RBio seniors who teach and mentor the RBio juniors.