I define learning in terms of change; as a communication professor, I believe that significant learning occurs when students: (1) gain new understandings of their own experiences in relation to larger institutional and societal processes/discourses and (2) develop analytical and practical skills that allow them to create better families, workplaces, and communities. My teaching philosophy centers on creating environments where this type of learning can occur; in my experience, such environments are collaborative, engaged, and relational.
My teaching philosophy begins with a commitment to collaborative learning. Consistent with what bell hooks calls a democratic classroom, I want students to feel that their input is encouraged and valued. I use individual conferences and short writing assignments (e.g., anonymous “one-minute papers”) to provide students with opportunities to share feedback on how the course is going and offer suggestions for improving it. I also emphasize student collaboration by integrating elements of team-based learning (TBL) into my classes. Consistent with the TBL approach, my students regularly work in pairs and small groups to present course material to the rest of the class, offer feedback on each other’s work, and complete semester-long projects.
My teaching philosophy also reflects the tenets of engaged learning. My classes integrate theory and practice in ways that demonstrate how course concepts are relevant to students’ lives and societal issues. Building from my research focus on health disparities, my courses are also engaged in the sense that they are oriented toward social justice. As Au et al. (2007) describe, I view my classes as opportunities for students to gain “glimpses of the kind of society we could live in” and “learn the academic and critical skills needed to make it a reality.” Toward these ends, my classes emphasize high impact assignments that involve research, experiential learning, and community-based projects.
My teaching philosophy also emphasizes the relational components of learning. I take pride in demonstrating kindness and respect in my relationships with students, something that they often mention in course evaluations. I also take time to learn about their goals and interests; this lets students know that they are valued while allowing me to tailor course content and assignments to their needs. I make myself available to students during my classes and continue to support them when the semester ends.
At Kent State, I teach a variety of courses in our Applied Communication concentration.
Please see below for a list of the courses I teach on a regular basis.
COMM 15000: Introduction to Human Communication
COMM 20001: Interpersonal Communication
COMM 26501: Introduction to Health Communication
COMM 30000: Communication Research Methods
COMM 45459: Communication and Conflict
COMM 46507: Everyday Interpersonal Communication and Health