My overall teaching objective is to encourage learning through engagement. Engagement forms the foundation of learning which is enhanced through providing clear objectives, with high expectations, frequent and varied forms of assessment, preparation and providing a learning role model.
Engagement Engagement between the students and the material. This is accomplished through providing a variety of perspectives regarding the material. One perspective may stimulate friction by exploring multiple facets and different interpretations of the material. Another may stimulate connection by guiding the student to find the personal relevance of the material while another will demonstrate relevance by drawing on real life experiences or through a variety of current events indicating how this material can and is impacting the student.
Engagement between the instructor and the students. This engagement forms a thread which is woven through all the engagement perspectives tying together concepts to develop a more holistic learning experience. The instructor facilitates this engagement by being open and present with the students. Being open is demonstrated by providing appropriate real life experiences honestly, both positive and negative, a willingness to admit errors, and openness to student challenges to the instructor’s viewpoint, and an acknowledgement the instructor can and will learn from the students.
Engagement in the classroom. This is facilitated through instructor “presence”. Presence with the students is demonstrated by a command of the material and a presentation that is enthusiastic, motivating and infused with drama and humor. Showing respect for the students’ ideas and work, and encouraging them to participate with the material. Presence in enhanced by the instructor’s singular focus on the class.
Engagement between students. This form of engagement helps to build a sense of community and fosters investment in the material and each other. This engagement is achieved through the interaction of the class or groups of students through activities that may be structured or spontaneous occurring both in and out of the classroom.
Engagement with industry. The discipline in which I teach is an applied discipline where students benefit from interaction with current industry practitioners. Engaging students with the industry is achieved through the selective use of guest speakers or industry event attendance which fosters a deeper understanding of the industry.
Engagement with the departmental program. This is fostered through the introduction of discipline based subject matter experts where appropriate. This demonstrates a cooperative atmosphere and concern for students among the faculty. Further, it demonstrates the depth of the program and knowledge available to the student through the faculty.
Objectives, Expectations, and Assessment Multi-level engagement is employed with a goal of establishing deep involvement and critical thinking about the material. To further the connection between the material and learning, my goal is to deliver clear and consistent objectives for the students which are measured against a backdrop of high expectations. Learning objectives provide the opportunity for students to learn by doing, interacting, researching and practicing. These opportunities will take place both in-class and out of class. This is achieved through integration assignments, readings, projects along with class and group interaction. Assessment methods are employed not only for the express purpose of assigning grades but for demonstrating preparation and the estimation of the growth in learning. Assessments are also for the instructor to insure his methods actively help students learn the material.
Preparation In order to drive this engaged learning, high expectations for student preparation for class are established. The students are provided with a combination of preparatory reading, learning and assessment assignments prior to class. These are designed to encourage preparation for class individually or in groups to minimize definitional introduction during class and allow focus on improving integrated learning and higher order thinking. This allows the instructor to shift his role from lecturer to facilitator. As a facilitator, peer-to-peer and active learning can progress and the discussion of the topic can focus on application and relevance. Much of time in class is taken by up by individual and group discussion, integrating concepts and encouraging the students to help instruct each other in the material. This helps the students discover new meaning and connections in the material. It also provides the students with a platform to learn and practice how to express themselves in a clear and thoughtful manner as well as how to interact meaningfully and respectfully with one another. All of these expectations are designed to push students to be prepared, understand the material or define what they do not understand to seek further knowledge. The objective is to not only help them learn this material but help develop skills on how to learn and how to interact and to meet and exceed their own expectations.
Learning Role Model It is my belief that the instructor’s responsibility in learning is not bound by the class. It is my charge to be a model for continuous learning. Demonstrating how continued learning impacts my work and research as well as my own personal growth can provide a powerful example to students to learn. Further, by involving students when possible in my research, sharing new findings, providing current examples of the material in action can all demonstrate continued learning. Being available to students outside of class and encouraging them to visit with me out of class is another example of respect for continuous learning. Being open to new ideas, investigating in my research new areas of discovery, reflecting current and relevant experiences, being able to use and understand current technologies all provide students with a model for continuous learning.