Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy
Teaching is my passion. It challenges me creatively, emotionally, and intellectually and forces me to give the very best of myself to my students. My courses are theoretically and empirically based, however I challenge my students to learn for life, not just for exams. I stress the need to apply the course material back to our own experiences, so that it becomes more relevant and applicable to everyday life. When asked to define my teaching practice, I tell my students, “I teach the way I wanted to be taught.” I wanted to be challenged and I wanted to see the relevance in what I was learning. I believe that students can immediately sense when a professor doesn’t care about them or the material he/she is teaching. The students “check out” mentally and emotionally, and the learning becomes strictly book knowledge and rote memorization designed to pass the tests.

I believe strongly in mutual respect in my classroom and that learning is a partnership. I refuse to pretend that I know everything and I will openly tell my students when I can’t remember a reference offhand or if the subject is outside of my area of expertise. They know that I will arrive with the information in hand for the next class session and that we will learn together. I pride myself on being approachable outside of the classroom both for office hours and campus community events. My students recognize that I sincerely want them to succeed and that I want to help them make connections between the course material and their own lives. Each of my assignments is uniquely created to strengthen this application and promote introspection. I believe that the true test comes years after the class has ended, when a student uses the course material in their professional or personal life. It is my responsibility to introduce them to concepts and ideas that will serve them throughout their lives.

Grading is a necessary component in academia and I try to make it as straightforward and painless and possible. Students are given a point breakdown for the course in the syllabus on the first day of classes. They know exactly how many points each assignment, quiz, and exam will be worth and the percentages that will be used to determine their grade. At any point during the semester, students can use those percentages to calculate their current grade, so there are no surprises. In order to reduce “grade entitlement effects” I include the following statement in all of my syllabi.

Please note, many students equate effort with a high grade and do not consider the level of mastery of the course material. Just because you have “worked hard” on an assignment, does not mean it is necessarily deserving of a high grade. The grades in this course are based on a level of mastery of the material and points will be assigned accordingly (Scott, 2009)

The directions for all written assignments are posted to Blackboard at the start of the semester and each assignment includes a detailed checklist and a grading rubric so students know in advance how their work will be assessed. I believe in prompt feedback. Even with essay questions, exams are returned within a week of being completed and papers are returned within two weeks of their due date. This can generate several long nights of grading, but I believe it is essential for students to know how they performed on an assignment or exam while they can still remember what they did. Likewise, I hold my students accountable for turning their work in on time. Late papers turned the same day are worth 90% of their original grade, papers turned in 48 hours late are worth 80% , and assignments turned in after 48 hours are worth 50% of their original grade.

As there are multiple styles of learning, I try to incorporate multiple methods of evaluation. Exams represent approximately 50% of a student’s overall grade and include both recall (open-ended questions, fill in the blank, and essays) and recognition (multiple choice and true/false) questions. Application assignments, discussions and class presentations comprise the remaining 50% of the course grade. Tests alone don’t always adequately reflect student knowledge and papers don’t always represent a student’s completed understanding of the subject matter; however the combination of the two allows students to demonstrate their strengths, without being undermined by their weaknesses.






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