Golden Dozen: Teaching Philosophy Statement
One of my teaching goals is to develop students’ critical thinking skills and I use a project-based approach in my courses to achieve this goal. The students develop a hypothesis-driven project that they test and present the results at the end of the semester. Work in groups provides an additional opportunity to learn from each other. The project component helps to increase students’ interpretive skills and to understand the process of scientific inquiry.
I find that interactive teaching is the most conducive to learning. I try to make students feel welcome and at ease. My classes are fairly small, so I start the semester by learning about my audience. I ask the students to work in pairs, to learn an interesting fact about their partner and then to introduce each other to the class. I find this activity to instill a collaborative atmosphere for the whole semester. I try to turn lectures into conversations, which I have found to be the most effective way for students to understand difficult concepts.
To evaluate student learning, I use exams, quizzes, writing papers, developing and project presentation. I design my exams and quizzes using Bloom’s taxonomy as a guideline to assess lower order (knowledge, comprehension and application) and higher order (analysis, synthesis and evaluation) learning domains. Each lecture begins with a quiz that tests the students’ knowledge and understanding of the previous lecture. This helps me assess their rate of learning and facilitates their critical thinking. The students then discuss their answers with their neighbor, which creates a peer-to-peer learning experience.
My classes consist of students with diverse backgrounds, different levels of preexisting knowledge and unique ways of absorbing material. This has taught me to explain each topic in a variety of ways. As my lectures and PowerPoint slides are provided for students in advance, I use a blackboard to illustrate some concepts and show videos of real time situations if a principle is more understandable in motion. I always make sure that my students know that they can always contact me if they need help.
I also believe that good teachers need to be at the cutting edge of scholarship. We discuss recent scientific publications relevant to the topics in the course. This exposes students to the latest research and emphasizes that science is dynamic, that there is still much to be discovered and that students themselves can be part of this process.
Finally, I want my students to use the knowledge they learn in class to make well-informed decisions concerning their health and lifestyle in their lives as a whole. I also see the need for my students to critically assess information and differentiate facts from myths since today’s world is full of information often based on mere opinion. Developing critical thinking and evidence-based decision-making is arguably my greatest gift to the students.