Each semester is an opportunity to create something new, or to re-evaluate a class I taught before in order to reflect constructive student criticism, to incorporate current events, or to assign newer texts or different media. I tailor the structure of class time, the content of lectures, and the type and frequency of assignments to the short-term and long-term pedagogical goals I have for students.
Examples of course goals include:
learning how to develop effective research questions;
improving media, data, digital, and cultural literacies;
understanding the concept of intersectionality;
learning how to engage in respectful, informed, and productive dialogue;
understanding the concept of social construction;
learning how to read and evaluate a table, chart, or map;
understanding the concept of institutionalized oppression;
developing academic writing and citation skills; and
completing IRB paperwork for a research project.
STUDENT FEEDBACK on pedagogy
In order to maximize student engagement, I utilize a variety of pedagogical practices in my undergraduate and graduate classes in pursuit of blended learning:
assigning primary texts by diverse scholars and from an array of disciplines, methodologies, and theoretical traditions in order to expose students to breadth and depth of thought;
assigning other kinds of “texts” for analysis (e.g., news articles, clips from news shows, pieces of legislation, and documentaries) in order to bring "the sociological imagination" and the history of policy and economic context to bear on the real world and current events;
a paperless class (i.e., in which I post all syllabi and reading material online; assignments are turned in online, I return grades and feedback online, students book office hours appointments with me online, and I facilitate writing workshops online); and
a semester-long digital group project (financed by a Digital Seed Grant for Blended Learning) in place of a final paper.
STUDENT FEEDBACK ON TEACHING SKILLS
DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, AND INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY
I am keenly aware of the multiplicity of issues facing students today — including those related to mental and physical health and ability, to structural disadvantage, and to family and financial need— and I strive to be an accommodating professor, a listening ear, and an advocate throughout the challenges students face as people.
I am committed to making my classroom as safe as I can for marginalized students. No learning or change happens when either privileged or marginalized parties are in comfort, and students of any subordinated status already experience dislocation and discrimination on the campuses of selective and predominantly white institutions of higher education, not to mention in the world at large. It is a central aspect of my pedagogy to bring students of hegemonic identities into the collective discomfort so they can contextualize their own experiences and histories, their communities, as well as listen to the experiences of others’ and their communities’.
In order to make sure all students can bring their best selves to class and get the help that they require, I provide introductory and advanced classes alike with the same discussion rules and institutional resources at the beginning of the semester.
Student Feedback ON INCLUSION AND EMPATHY
Teaching writing — proper grammar, punctuation, citation, and academic style — is central to my pedagogy. Writing is a crucial life skill that professors often assume students have mastered once they reach college, certainly once they reach graduate school. College students’ writing skills vary widely, however, as do graduate students’.
I ask undergraduate students to engage with what we read and discuss in brief written “class journals” each week. I encourage them to draw connections to what they study in other courses, what they read in the news, and what is going on in their lives. The regularity, brevity, informality, and confidentiality of class journals have added benefits: (1) they allow otherwise quiet students to demonstrate what more socially confident students demonstrate easily in class discussion, and (2) they act as a weekly check-in on students’ reading and general well-being. Missing, late, or substandard class journals may be early flags that something is wrong and allow early intervention.
In order to train effective social scientists at the undergraduate and graduate level, I teach writing-heavy research design and statistical analysis courses. Students work on one research project over the course of the semester, adding new levels of statistical analyses to their paper with each successive assignment. This means students revise their papers, and therefore improve their writing, as they progress through the semester. Students track my copywriting marks and other comments in a stylesheet I designed to help them prioritize during the revision process and thereby improve the clarity of their analysis.
With graduate students, I ensure course deliverables can be used towards a program requirement or a publishable paper. I also spend a significant amount of time throughout the course demystifying and deconstructing the academic writing, revision, submission, and publication processes, and helping them establish their own daily practice.