My teaching is oriented towards what Fink (2013) calls significant learning –– that is, the type of learning that produces lasting change in students’ lives. As a Communication Studies professor, I believe that significant learning occurs when students are able to demonstrate: (1) foundational knowledge of important disciplinary concepts and theories, (2) improved analytical and critical thinking skills, and (3) the ability to craft messages that are appropriate to their audience, context, and goals. My teaching philosophy focuses on creating educational environments where this type of learning can occur. In my experience, such environments are engaged, collaborative, and relational.
My teaching philosophy begins with a commitment to engaged learning. In order to help students develop foundational knowledge, I work to create a dynamic classroom environment. I present course material in a number of different formats –– including telling stories, integrating media examples, and inviting faculty and community members to serve as guest speakers (both mediated and face-to-face). My students appreciate these varied approaches and often remark that it helps them retain course content and apply it to their lives. I also expect students to be active participants in the classroom. I regularly integrate brief, low-stakes activities into our course sessions in order to emphasize the link(s) between conceptual and applied knowledge. Beyond our interactions in the classroom, my courses are also engaged in the sense that they emphasize “high impact” assignments (i.e., those involving research and experiential learning) as primary modes of assessment.
My teaching philosophy also reflects the tenets of collaborative learning. 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 at regular intervals. I also work to provide students with a great deal of choice in terms of how they complete their major assignments –– adhering to a practice I describe as “flexibility within well-defined constraints.” 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.
The final element of my teaching philosophy is a focus on the relational components of teaching and learning. I take pride in demonstrating kindness and respect in my relationships with students. I make myself available to them throughout the semester and make it clear that I committed to their success in my courses and beyond.
At Kent State, I teach a variety of undergraduate courses; please see below for a list of the classes 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 35852: Intercultural Communication
COMM 35860: Interviewing
COMM 45459: Communication and Conflict
COMM 46507: Everyday Interpersonal Communication and Health