I develop and teach Soils courses in the Crop and Soil Science Department, both on the Corvallis campus and via Ecampus.
My teaching has evolved considerably over the eight years I’ve been at OSU, including in my mindset, my communication style, and my course design. My mode of teaching has often necessarily been one of “information transmission” due to the large size and introductory level of many of my classes, particularly when I started teaching. However, in recent years, I have added some smaller and more advanced courses to my repertoire. Meanwhile, students and I become more proficient and comfortable with blending traditional classroom teaching and learning with newer instructional technology-based approaches. These developments have allowed me to create new opportunities for interactive, student-led, and project-based learning, collect data on student performance and engagement, and based on that data, be more responsive to student needs and interests.
I focus on developing students’ awareness of their ecological and social contexts, as well as the relevance of science and scientific thinking to their lives. I discuss my own involvement in environmental education and sustainability efforts in my community, and encourage student engagement in such efforts by designing, and constantly refining, place- and community-based assignments and authentic (applied or real-world) assessments.
I have learned to bring more of myself to the physical or virtual classroom. I share my family background, current life experiences, and my various interests in welcome messages and videos, as well as in lessons and assignments. I now frequently hear from students that they appreciate my openness and that some piece of what I shared connected with them personally.
Because I lead with openness and vulnerability, I can ask students to share with me relevant information about their identities, abilities, and experiences. I respond individually as appropriate, and I use the information to design and facilitate effective, inclusive classroom experiences and interventions. I emphasize collaboration over competition by basing grades on mastery rather than relative performance, and by encouraging learners to work together. On-campus, this includes service-learning projects, in-class activities, and labs. Online, this takes the form of discussion forums, collaborative assignments, and group projects and presentations.
Students are encouraged to question me in ways that work for them -- during or after class, in person or virtually during office hours, via email, phone, discussion forum. I invite student feedback on my teaching in a mid-term evaluation, and I respond to this input over the course of the same term and in my ongoing course updates. Student critiques to lessons, assignments, and exams have resulted in improved exam questions and formats within a single term. I frequently solicit and incorporate ideas and edits from my teaching assistants and colleagues, and in turn consult on their teaching challenges.
My ability and willingness to create and try new teaching approaches, consult with colleagues and students, and flex and adapt as needed has served students well during these recent years of pandemic disruptions and the individual and societal stresses that came with. I have been able to rearrange and reimagine course structures, assignments, and content to allow students to reach their learning goals and to demonstrate that learning to me despite the many and varied obstacles we all have faced.