Model Teachers - Center for Effective Teaching - Christopher Newport University

Center for Effective Teaching

Model Teachers

The following individuals have agreed to open their classrooms to other faculty members who would like to observe their teaching techniques and strategies. If you are interested in observing a model teacher, please contact them directly to schedule an appropriate observation date and CC

I am currently teaching three sections of Accounting 201, which all business majors must take. I am also teaching one section of Accounting 302, which is restricted to accounting majors. I conduct class using a relaxed lecture style broken up with student group exercises to encourage engagement with the material. I make efforts to foster an environment in which students feel comfortable enough to perform one of the most important components of developing content mastery: asking questions.

I teach a variety of courses in literature, creative writing and composition. My literature class periods consist of a brief lecture, a vigorous discussion and often an in-class group activity involving writing in response to course material. My general writing courses eschew lecture and concentrate instead on discussion and in-class writing workshop activities.

I teach a range of courses at multiple levels, from first-year to graduate-level. For example, I regularly teach an upper-level lecture with laboratory, restricted to psychology and neuroscience majors, a graduate-level course for the Teacher Preparation Program, and introductory-level courses in psychology. Each of my class periods typically involves lecture, punctuated by video examples and in-class application activities that reinforce course concepts. I have also taught a senior seminar in neuroscience that utilized student-led discussions, interspersed with occasional lectures and video demonstrations of course concepts.

I teach two introductory economics courses geared toward non-majors:

  • ECON 200: The Economic Way of Thinking
  • ECON 203: Environmental Economic Literacy for the Citizen

And two courses for our majors or minors:

  • ECON 202: Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON 301: Environmental Economics

I keep all my classes primarily discussion-based and activity-driven, irrespective of size (my ECON 202 typically is a mega section of 90+ students).

My pedagogical approach to teaching writing seeks to de-center the classroom space, allowing for students to become empowered knowledge makers. This happens in a variety of ways, including informal group work, student-lead classroom discussions, workshops and formal collaborative writing assignments and presentations, as well as more traditional individual writing assignments. I also employ digital technologies, including Google Drive, wikis and blogs for assignment completion and participation. My classes are held in the new Center for Innovation in Digital Humanities. This AY 2019-20, I will teach Tutoring in the Writing Center, Writing for the Digital Humanities and Poetry Writing.

I teach a range of courses at all levels, including introductory surveys with students across the disciplines, upper-level specialized courses for majors/minors in humanities and social sciences, and small readings/research seminars for history majors and for the Honors Program. Classes often blend lecture, source-specific discussions, small-group work, case study simulations and media. I invite colleagues seeking to observe specific pedagogical approaches to contact me for the best options to visit, and I'm happy to meet outside of class to discuss these activities as well.

This fall semester of 2019 I'm teaching two different courses: one mid-sized section (enrollment = 38) of SOCL 201: Globalization & Society, and two small sections (enrollment = 19) of SOCL 303: The Family in Transition. Globalization is a lower-level course taught primarily (but not exclusively) to non-majors and fulfills LLC/other interdisciplinary program requirements. The Families seminar is an elective within the major, and while it is primarily populated by sociology majors, a significant amount of non-majors do take the class to fulfill program requirements as SOCL 303 serves as an elective option for childhood studies and early childhood education. While both courses involve some degree of lecture (which includes some amount of Socrative questioning) and high expectations for engaged discussion, the lecture component is a bit more prevalent in Globalization as students are coming in with a lesser degree of disciplinary knowledge. I also do a number of active learning activities with my students, designed to teach them how to read efficiently/effectively and think analytically, using the conventions of thought of the discipline of sociology. I encourage students to come to class prepared to discuss the readings and apply analytic principles to cultural artifacts, video clips, current events, etc.

I am teaching a lower-level language course and two upper-level literature courses this semester (one in Spanish, and one in English). In language courses, I introduce key vocabulary or grammar concepts, and then students practice these new skills. My approach is communicative and task-based, so that the language exchange is as authentic and natural as possible. My literature courses focus on reading comprehension and developing skills in literary criticism. I may lecture briefly to contextualize a reading. In general, though, students work in pairs or small groups to explore the text, respond to analytical questions and formulate their own queries about it. Visual art, music or other cultural artifacts often support student comprehension of course readings.

In fall 2019, I’m teaching Precalculus (130), Calculus and Analytic Geometry (140) and Applied Matrix Techniques (235). I teach most of my classes as interactive lectures at the board, where we motivate new ideas with discussion. Technology is occasionally used for demonstrations, but I avoid straight-up lecture slides. Interspersed in the lectures are activities and opportunities for students to try new techniques themselves, either individually or in small groups.

I teach introductory and upper-level courses that are restricted to biology majors. A typical introductory class period relies on interactive lectures that are intentionally punctuated with a variety of engagement triggers and active learning techniques that may appeal to different learning styles. Small group work, physical props and movement are common themes. Similar techniques are employed at the upper level, with more opportunity for critiques of primary literature and hypothesis development.

I am currently teaching two upper-level psychology courses designed for psychology and neuroscience majors. One course is a survey-type course providing detailed discussion of theories of child development. The second course is a 400-level major course focusing on motivation and emotion This course has an associated lab course, during which students work in independent groups to complete a small research project and APA-style report. For the lecture portion of the course, the class period includes mostly lecture/discussion with various active learning activities employed for each unit. A unit consisted of two topics/chapters, one class activity and one unit test.

This fall I will be teaching two sections of PHIL 201, Ancient & Medieval Philosophy, and one section of HONR 363: The Human Across Cultures. PHIL 201 is an introductory-level course with approximately 30 freshmen and sophomores enrolled in each section. HONR 363 is an upper-level Honors seminar with 19 sophomores and juniors. I use a variety of pedagogical approaches in my classes, including lecture, discussion and wacky in-class activities. My goal in every class session is to incorporate as many different teaching techniques as I can by switching activities frequently throughout the class period. I find that this helps keep students awake, interested and stimulated.

This fall I am teaching one section of ENGL 315, Adolescent Literature, one section of ENGL 215 (Popular Genres: Tolkien) and one section of ENGL 223. All three classes are geared toward a general audience that includes both English majors and non-majors. My class periods are primarily discussion based, though sometimes starting with a brief lecture on a conceptual point that I ask students to apply to material read for the day. The beginning period of many class periods is also devoted to students identifying thematic issues or problems within the text that they want to discuss, to give them a sense of ownership over the material. I have my own list as well (which often dovetails with that of the students, but this way I can be sure we cover issues they may not have thought of), and we work our way through them. Some student presentations occur at various points in the term, and short reading quizzes often start a class period.

I teach a wide variety of mathematics courses. In particular, this semester I am teaching Mathematics for Life Sciences, Programming in Mathematics, and Applied Probability as well as our department’s writing intensive course. I aim to engage the students in a variety of ways: hands on practice, simulations, discussions and group work. Every class looks a little bit different! Additionally, I incorporate several formative assignments that are low-stakes in terms of factoring into students’ grades.

I am teaching two sections of an upper-level course, International Environmental Politics, which counts as an elective for both the political science and environmental studies degrees. The class is primarily taught as an interactive lecture, with some active learning components mixed in, several short simulations and class presentations at the end of the semester. I’m also teaching an honors class for primarily sophomores on politics and culture in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. That course has more simulations than the other one, as well as more discussion.

I am currently teaching the first course in programming and an upper-level elective for computer science majors. Most of my classes consist of some lecture, some programming and quick collaborative questions to assess understanding.

I teach upper-level psychology courses. Abnormal Psychology (fall) introduces students to mental health disorders and the systems in which they are treated. In a class of 45 students, pedagogical highlights are incorporating discussion as a key component, weaving in the use of media and providing real world examples to supplement the textbook. Research Methods (fall) is a WI course and lab that introduces students to research concepts and skills. In a class of 19 students, pedagogical highlights are countering students' intimidation about the topic by drawing connections to their life and interests, utilizing assignments that build upon each other throughout the semester, and encouraging effective group work strategies. Psychopharmacology (spring) is a lab course with 19 students that provides exposure to the practical, ethical and diversity considerations of prescribing medications to treat mental illness. Senior Seminar (spring) is a WI course with 19 students who read, discuss and write about topical issues in psychology.

I am currently teaching Auditing, a required upper-level accounting course and the sophomore-level Accounting Principles course. I use short lectures interspersed with hands-on exercises (problems, short cases), which students sometimes solve in small groups. I will cover a topic, work an example, assign another example which students are asked to work on their own. I try not to use PowerPoint slides but instead encourage students to take notes as I believe that note taking improves student learning. As I lecture new material, I try to relate it to something to which the students can relate. Additionally, I start each class period with a review of the previous class period and going over some of the homework assignments.

I am responsible for teaching both musical ensembles and in a traditional classroom setting. In both cases, I budget the time of each class session into a few goal-oriented time segments. The objective of each segment is recognized by the students, and we pursue the goal as a class using various pedagogical techniques, including class discussion, lecture, hands-on activities, repetitive and refining practice, guided listening, peer critique, and others. All of these techniques are used to ultimately achieve the overarching and basic objective of each course: to perform the musical concepts at the highest level possible and to develop the critical-thinking skills necessary to make independent musical and pedagogical decisions.

This semester I am teaching an introduction to physical anthropology and archaeology called Human Adaptation (ANTH 200). This version of the course is a super section, so I will be trying out small group activities (problem solving, mini-demos, and jigsaw groups) that will mimic the “labs” that I usually rely on in smaller versions of the course. One summative assessment used in this course is a group research documentary. I am teaching Globalization and Society (SOCL 201) to a smaller class size (19). This class is largely lecture/discussion with a smattering of small group activities to assist students in thinking through social ramifications of globalization. I also teach Japanese Popular Culture (ANTH 365), an upper-level anthropology course. This class is a mix of lecture, discussion and active learning opportunities.

This semester I am teaching a lower-level interpersonal communication course (COMM 211) and an upper-level course on qualitative research methods (COMM 370). I use a team-based learning approach in my classes. I assign students to teams, which remain consistent for the semester. Classes are typically divided between a short lecture to introduce a concept followed by a problem-solving activity. Some classes are devoted to workshops where students analyze data relevant to the topic of the day.

I teach both lower- and upper-division writing, world literature, and introduction to literary theory classes for majors and non-majors. My teaching relies on a mixture of lecture, seminar and discussion, and I strive to give my students many opportunities to become active learners by flipping the classroom whenever possible. For example, after an introductory lecture on a topic, I may have students read primary sources by representative authors, post comments online before class, then have two discussion leaders guide us through the material by identifying important ideas and asking open-ended questions to help us understand the significance and ramifications of the presented approach to literary analysis. (I work with the discussion leaders ahead of class to make sure they get any help they might need in accomplishing those tasks.) We then apply the new methodology and terminology to analyzing literary works in small groups in class, and complete the unit by writing a formal essay showcasing the individual student's ability to make practical use of the freshly acquired knowledge.

I teach a freshman course in the fall and upper-level courses in the fall and spring, all of which are restricted to biology majors. My class periods typically involve a combination of PowerPoint/dry erase board lectures and active learning techniques. Examples include data analysis from the primary literature, experiment creation to solve novel biological problems, and building models to represent systems.

(On sabbatical fall 2019, available for observation spring 2020) I teach a wide variety of courses, ranging from introductory to advanced foreign languages classes that focus on the mechanics and the four skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) to content-based courses taught in French (French literature, history and phonetics). I also have the great privilege of teaching literature and interdisciplinary courses in English for our MLAN, Honors, and IDST curricula. Thus, my teaching methodology varies a great deal. For language classes, I use the communicative approach, which entails a focus on meaningful communication and inductive learning, rather than an exclusive focus on grammar and rote memorization. In content-based classes, whether they be in English or French, my students learn how form produces meaning and disciplined-based methodology in order to learn how to better analyze primary sources. Students are actively engaged as a group during my language classes, completing listening comprehension exercises, pair work, group work, presentations, debates and choral repetition. For content-based classes, I use a mix of lecture, seminar-style discussion, student presentations and other interactive activities.

I teach PSYC 301/L- Research Methods and Lab, PSYC 312- Educational Psychology, PSYC 535- Exceptional Learner, and PSYC 544-Assessment of Learning. In all my classes I try to incorporate lecture and some sort of activity to engage students in the content during each class period. These activities include discussions, scenarios, writing assignments/reflections and group application of content. I also bring in turning point response cards (clickers) to classes to poll students and ask formative assessment questions.

I am teaching three courses in the fall 2019 semester. I have two sections of our history methods course (HIST 300W: Historical Methods and Historiography). Most students in this course are sophomores and juniors, and almost all of them are history majors. The course is writing intensive, and I work with a writing associate to assist the students in the staged writing assignments in the course. My upper-level course focuses on the history of Europe since 1945 (HIST 317: Rebuilding Democracy in Postwar Europe). Students in this class are almost exclusively juniors and seniors completing their major requirements.

I am currently teaching two sections of an introductory history survey as well as an upper-level course on the history of women and social movements in the U.S. Both classes include lectures interspersed with discussion, in-class analysis of primary sources and video clips.

I teach Sacred Communication/Journeys (200 level RSTD AIWT) every fall semester and Religion in the Movies (RSTD 326, a writing intensive course) every spring semester. On alternate years, I teach Primal Religions (300 level RSTD AIGM), Religion and Ecology (300 level RSTD course), Search for Beauty (300 level PHIL AICE) and/or C.S. Lewis and Myth (400 level PHIL course). Each of these courses is taught with an emphasis on dialogue and discussion. We use a hermeneutical and phenomenological approach in order to discover an intersubjective knowledge of the course subject. I emphasize reading texts and interacting with artifacts such as works of art, photographs, films and music.

Teaching is not as much a skill as it is a process, and effective teaching and mentoring develop over time. Teaching requires a deep understanding of one’s subject, but the gratification of shaping hearts and minds is an enormous privilege and an even greater responsibility. The process involves letting go of ego, knowledge and experience – there can be no boundaries when sharing information and ideas with students. A teacher’s goal is for students to understand the information, to apply it to their lives, and to commit themselves to learning and experiencing on their own. Teaching is setting the student free.

In fall 2019 I’m teaching one senior-level required course, Values Leadership, restricted to leadership studies minors. The course focuses on the theoretical and practical intersection of values, ethics, morals, leadership and followership, including analysis of “bad” leadership (since we so often only focus on the good). My classes typically involve short segments of quasi-lecture on reading content and relevant concepts, mixed with large and small group discussions and active learning methods. My classroom philosophy and pedagogy is grounded in a mutual learning process that involves respect for one another and acknowledgement of the fact that learning is messy. We welcome half-baked ideas and avoid giving the hairy eyeball. We focus on developing deeper understanding of content as well as practical application of theories and concepts, when appropriate. I encourage students to constructively push on what they are reading and hearing, and think creatively and critically to develop and challenge their own perspectives.

I typically teach upper-level discussion-based courses on analysis and critique of media and culture. I employ a critical communication pedagogy that recognizes students and instructors as co-facilitators of the learning environment. As much as possible I design my course assignments to be project-based learning that will aid students in building a portfolio for employment or graduate school rather than confining the learning experience to the four walls of the classroom. This and next semester I am teaching Communicating Gender, Race, and Class, which combines some lecture with small-group discussion. I am also teaching a special topics course on Popular Culture and Mental Health, which is based on dialogue and will include various student-led discussions. In spring I teach Senior Seminar. The last couple of years I have selected a topic related to advocacy or social justice. I also often teach Media Criticism, which is one of our required methods courses, which combines discussion with seminar.

I teach a variety of courses ranging from lower-level area of inquiry classes to the sociology capstone course with class sizes ranging from mega sections to small lectures. In all of my classes I emphasize critical and consistent engagement. The classroom is a place where knowledge is produced, not simply disseminated. It is where ideas are challenged, not taken for granted. To this end, while I do lecture some, I expect all my students in all classes, regardless of size or level, to come prepared to engage in dialogue.

I am currently teaching two upper-level courses, both of which are restricted to biology majors. Each of my class periods typically involves short segments of lecture interspersed with regular breaks during which I use a variety of active learning techniques to reinforce student learning. For example, students may discuss reading material, analyze data from primary literature, develop hypotheses or create visual representations that reinforce connections between lecture topics.

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