The curriculum of science is readily able to impart knowledge to students that extends beyond the boundaries of the discipline itself. The pillars of science (e.g. critical thinking, communication, observation, experimentation, evaluation) when applied to the everyday can help ensure all students find success by empowering an evidence-based worldview. My goals as a science educator are to:
- Build an understanding of science with students while instilling them with an excitement for science
- Use research to engage students with self-sustained learning, and
- Help students recognize the utility of applying scientific principles to their everyday lives.
By focusing on these goals, my hope is to encourage students to embrace a life filled with science; as a profession, as a hobby, or as a framework on which to maximize productivity and success.
Since the start of my PhD, I have taught or helped teach nine unique courses. Throughout that time I have learned much about what it means to teach and have sought to continually refine my approach and implement the goals stated above for each of my students. Below is a description of the implementation for several of the courses I have taught. For the complete list please see my CV.
- General Biology 101 - Loyola University of Chicago
- Zoology 445: Evolution Online - Michigan State University
- Zoology 328: Comparative Anatomy and Biology of the Vertebrates - Michigan State University
This first semester biology course covers topics from biochemistry to photosynthesis to genetics. I taught two 60-student sections of the course and independently designed all of the course materials and assessments. To infuse some life into my classes, I incorporated classroom assessment techniques that help engage students in the learning process each day in class. I also utilized a Wacom© drawing tablet to live-annotate my lectures and present a dynamic approach to interacting with and internalizing material.
Zoology 445 was a summer course taught at an accelerated pace over seven weeks. As my first online course, I invested in the tools necessary to effectively communicate complex topics over the internet, namely, audio and video hardware and software. I used these tools to produce "mini lectures" that reviewed topics using material directly from the textbook. I also firmly established the importance of being always available to help students while teaching Evolution Online, made necessary due to the shortened semester, but an attribute of my teaching that I have since strongly reinforced for all my classes.
Zoology 328 is an upper-level course of primarily juniors and seniors in the pre-medical or pre-veterinary programs at MSU. As my first lecture course as sole instructor, I helped guide 110 upperclassmen through the evolutionary history of vertebrates and the major anatomical and physiological systems we depend on for survival. Another responsibility of the Zoology 328 instructor was coordinating eight lab sections taught by teams of two students each. I was thankful for my experience as a TA for the Zoology 328 lab during my PhD to help me balance my two requirements as instructor, and also to help implement new technology in lab (webcams to show specimens to entire class) and lecture (Wacom© drawing tablet to illustrate concepts during class).