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Anandan, Shivanthi

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CONTACT INFORMATION

DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY

DREXEL UNIVERSITY

PHILADELPHIA, PA 19104

Tel: (215)-895-2631

Email: anandans@drexel.edu

 

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

I love learning new things: new concepts, new techniques and new technology.  This has influenced my choice of a career, that of an academic. However, this sentiment is not shared by most of my students.  In my opinion, current day students do not invest in “learning” for the purpose of acquiring knowledge.  To the students’ way of thinking, information is readily available in multiple formats that can be accessed when needed.  So, I find that rather than learning for the long-term purpose of acquiring knowledge, students generally study for an outcome: a quiz, an exam or entry into professional/ graduate schools.  As their instructor, it is important that I accept this viewpoint if I want to help them learn. Therefore, I need to tailor my expectations and my classroom practices to help them optimize their academic performance.

 

APPROACHES TO MEASURING STUDENT LEARNING

In general, I like to use different strategies to promote student learning. My course on Genetically Modified Foods explores a topic that has promise for human nutrition, is controversial and is discussed avidly in the written and on-line media. In this course, the lectures cover content material on the generation of genetically modified foods using recombinant DNA technology, and serve as a springboard for building the discussion on the social and ethical aspects of this technology. Mastery of the lecture content is assessed via weekly quizzes in class.  The topic of genetically modified foods is controversial with immense societal impact.  To familiarize the students with the social relevance of this topic, I set up debates in class.  During these debates, I pose a number of questions regarding the social aspects of this topic, and each question is debated by two groups. Each group takes opposing viewpoints of the question posed.  The debates are designed to promote verbal communication of the students’ ideas and opinions.  A third strategy used in this course is the creation of portfolios of a select aspect of the course topic.

 

INSTITUTIONAL ENVIRONMENT

An important institutional center for promoting teaching and faculty development at Drexel University is the DCAE.  This center holds “brown bag” lunches where topical papers on teaching are discussed, and hosts seminars by leading teaching pedagogues in the field.  I am a fellow of the DCAE, and actively participate in its events.  I am also a mentor in the twice-yearly Teaching and Academic portfolio workshops that the DCAE and the Graduate Studies office cooperatively offer.  The DCAE financially supported my participation in the 2010 IUT conference (see essay # 3), and if I am accepted for the Measuring Student Learning workshop they will again financially support my attendance at the workshop. At the departmental level, there is a monthly meeting of a Teaching Circle that is composed of teaching and tenure-track faculty.  Participation is voluntary, and I find this an excellent venue to discuss teaching of Biology and non-Biology majors with my colleagues. Drexel University has purchased the on-line series of seminars from “The Teaching Professor.”  During our Teaching Circle meetings we view these seminars, and then discuss how applicable the seminar is to our own students and discipline.  

PERSONAL & PROFESSIONAL GOALS

Delivering high quality, effective instruction is one of my personal and professional goals.  To this end, I participate in a number of different forums that are available at Drexel University.  I fell that that effective teaching is a way to get students =excited about science, and to promote them to look at research as a future career.

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