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My teaching responsibilities include:

 

Course Name & No.

No. of Students

Type of students

% underrepresented

First Year Seminar 109C: Microbes, Molecule, and More

16

Science or math majors

80-90%

Biology 207 Ecology

50-60

Biology, ES

10-15%

Biology 305 Marine Ecology

12-14

Biology, ES

10-15%

Biology 312 Molecular Ecology

10-12

Biology, ES

10-15%

Biology 330 Microbiology

12-14

Biology, Biochemistry

10-15%

Biology 494J Marine Biodiversity and Conservation

14-16

Biology, ES

10-15%

 

 

My teaching challenge:

My teaching challenge focuses on developing assignments to help students move away from rote memorization of science to learning how to think like a scientist and to develop critical thinking skills and curiosity.  I am interested in investigating the effectiveness of the assignments and the improvement in student skills.  Currently, our campus community is immersed in discussions about academic challenge and how we can design our courses to be more rigorous and challenging for the students. 

I have recently developed a particular type of assignment that I think should help students develop critical thinking skills specific to analyzing and interpreting scientific data.  I present the students with some data that is related to a topic we are covering in the class and ask students to first describe what the data are telling them and then to interpret the data by generating hypotheses and often design experiments to test their hypotheses.  When I give these types of  assignments, there is often some pushback from students, expressing concern about how the assignment relates to their mastery of the subject under study.  Although I am convinced that this type of assignment is worthwhile and helps them develop the ability to apply concepts and theories to real data, I don’t have any evidence to support my suspicions.  I first would like to evaluate the effectiveness of the assignments in a general sense.  But I am also curious if the assignments are more effective as individual homework assignments or as small group activities during class.  Additionally, how often do the students need to do this type assignment to see measurable improvement in their critical thinking?  And are they ways to effectively measure their progress?

 

My personal/professional development goals:

My focus on activities that support the advancement of teaching stems primarily from my involvement with activities sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning.  As a new faculty member, I was impressed with the effectiveness of the Teaching Seminar, a seminar designed to help first year faculty learn about life at Connecticut College and to become reflective practioners.  I felt that I benefitted tremendously from learning about different teaching strategies, navigating college policies and politics, and forming lasting bonds with other faculty.  What I learned in the seminar had a major influence on my classes and my general approach to teaching and learning, as well as my attitude towards the college and its support of faculty.  Because I had such a positive experience, it was a natural transition for me to participate as a member of the organizing committee for three more years.  As part of the organizing committee, I helped select topics to cover, led discussions, and served as a mentor for incoming faculty. 

            Another natural transition from my involvement with the Teaching Seminar was my participation in many other activities sponsored by the CTL.  I have been an active participant (and discussant) at many of the Talking Teaching sessions, which is a series (4-5) of discussions each semester on different topics related to teaching.  I have also either participated or led sessions in Camp Teach and Learn, a more intensive series of workshops and seminars during May, sponsored by the CTL.  I co-led a discussion on the book "Teaching with Your Mouth Shut" (Finkel) at a Camp Teach and Learn session two years ago and co-led a discussion about the use of clickers in the classroom and other strategies to engage students in large classes as part of the Talking Teaching series.  My involvement in many of the CTL programs has helped me develop an interest in pursuing a project that focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning.

            I have also participated or presented at the ASMCUE meetings and Project Kaleidoscope meetings in Connecticut.

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