Supporting statement for Golden Dozen Award
I haven’t tried to impose a teaching philosophy on all of the courses I’ve developed and taught. Instead, I’ve approached each of them on its own terms and thought about the best way to reach its learning objectives, given the size and type of the audience and the nature of the material.
Language (LING-UA 1) is a general-purpose undergraduate introduction to linguistics which can draw up to 70 students. For this course, I opt for a traditional style of presentation, based on slides, a textbook, and weekly homework assign- ments. To keep students’ attention, I introduce an interactive component every 15 minutes, e.g. by asking students to have a brief conversation with their neighbor, or by asking them to use hand mirrors I hand out to look at the movement of their mouth and tongue as they pronounce various English sounds.
When I co-developed Patterns in Language (LING-UA 6), an no-prerequisite introduction to language technology (think Google, Siri, Google Translate), I decided to give students hands-on experience of the programming techniques that drive these applications. I used collaborative teaching technology (cocalc.com) to present short annotated passages of program code that students could edit. In class, I alternated between slide-based presentations and free-form discussion in which students anonymously post questions in class on an online message board (http://www.gosoapbox.com).
Building on the unusually close collaboration between linguistics and philoso- phy at NYU, I developed the course Formal Languages (LING-UA 7) with a colleague from philosophy. For this course, we obtained a team-teaching award from the NYU humanities initiative, and I recommended one of the students for a prestigious graduate program in philosophy (UCLA) at which he was accepted. For this course as well as Introduction to Semantics (LING-UA 4), I opted for white- board presentations and handouts (online at https://wp.nyu.edu/introsem/syllabus/). Two of the undergraduate students from this class subsequently enrolled in my graduate-level class Semantics II (LING-GA 2370).
While nothing can replace human interaction, the judicious use of educational software can be beneficial. For this reason, I have co-developed and field-tested the Lambda Calculator ( http://www.lambdacalculator.com), an interactive, graphical computer program that provides students with instant feedback. I have used this program in my own teaching, and it has been used in semantics classes worldwide.
I do my best to mentor and support especially promising undergraduate students, such as Hanna Muller, whom I hired as a research assistant and nominated for the Fowkes award for outstanding undergraduates in linguistics. This was awarded to her in recognition of her excellent work. Hanna has since then joined the University of Maryland PhD program.
I think the heterogeneous nature of my approaches to teaching reflects the multifaceted nature of my field and the diversity of experiences that NYU’s students bring to the classroom. I am committed to continuing to serve CAS undergraduates by teaching, mentoring, and expanding our course oﬀerings as appropriate.