Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Teaching Philosophy (the official version)...

Yesterday, my department chair came in to observe my class.  So I thought I would share my 'official' teaching philosophy...tomorrow I will share my 'unofficial' one.

Teaching Statement

 My teaching philosophy is based upon the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering and Gamson 1987).   The seven principles of good practice are:

1)      Encourages student-faculty contact;
2)      Encourages cooperation among students;
3)      Encourage active learning;
4)      Gives prompt feedback;
5)      Emphasizes time on task;
6)      Communicates high expectations; and
7)      Respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

I work hard to ensure that that incorporate these seven principles into each of my classes.

Encourages Student-Faculty Contact

In my teaching philosophy, I feel it is important that students come to understand that I am there to assist them in gaining the skills and abilities necessary to be successful in life.  One of the key components to them gaining this understanding is in how I encourage student-faculty contact.  I encourage student-faculty contact in three ways: 1) I always come to class early; 2) I require student groups to meet with me at least once during their projects; and 3) I ensure that I am highly accessible over a variety of means of communications.  In coming to class early, I get to know the students by engaging them in informal ‘talk’ before class.  I make a point to ask them about their studies and future aspirations.  I listen carefully and always offer to sit down and talk to them about ways to achieve their goals at another time as well.  In all my classes, I have group projects.  One of the components of the project is that I require every group to come see me for a meeting.  At that meeting I listen carefully to what their ideas for the project are and try to provide them with resources to ‘help get them started.’  Finally, I ensure that I am highly accessible to the students.  I have an ‘open-door’ policy and work hard to ensure that I reply to any email sent by students within four hours of receipt.   

Encourage Cooperation Among Students

In every course I teach, I ensure that a group project is involved as past of the curriculum.  With the hospitality industry being people related, it is imperative that students studying in this field know how to work with others.  Beyond a major group project, I also work hard to add group work components to different class room situations.  I often employ case studies where the students read the cases on their own and then work in a group to answer questions pertaining to the case.  We then discuss each group’s answers with the class.  I seek to ensure that by the end of term, each student in the class would have worked with all of the others at least once. 

Encourages Active Learning

I am a firm believer in active learning.  As is outlined in all of the letters from those who did class room observations, I have a highly interactive lecture style.  In encouraging active learning, I employee three tactics: 1) I ask many questions of the students; 2) I use story telling as a key component; and 3) I change mediums no less than every 20 minutes.  By asking for active student participation in the lecture I feel that they stay more engaged in the material.  I consistently ask the students questions related to the materials.  For instance, if I present a theoretical model, I will ask the students about how they employ the model in their current employment.  I also often ask the question of the students about why they think I am presenting the course materials that I am.  The answers to that questions allows me the opportunity to see if I got my point across effectively and to get them to understand how these concepts could be used in their future endeavors.  The second tactic of telling stories is important for retention.  Students will often remember stories because it places the materials in context.  I often use humor in the stories which gains attention and also helps with retention of course materials.  Finally, I feel it is important to change mediums at least every twenty minutes.  In most classes I begin with power point slides.  After introducing the concept for the class, I then incorporate either a case study or short video clips to illustrate the point.  I then follow that up with use of the white (or chalk) board to write down key concepts that are developed during the first two sections of the class plan.  I then usually, revert back to the power point presentation to ‘wrap up’ with a summary of the learning for the day.

Gives Prompt Feedback

I believe it is important for students to get prompt feedback on their work.  I do however, believe that feedback is a two-way street and I work diligently to not only give feedback on their course work but to incorporate their feedback into the course materials.  There are three main areas in which feedback is given and gained in my courses: 1) Small assignments; 2) Group presentations; and 3) Tests and exams.  For small assignments, I usually ask for their feedback when they are handing them in.  I ask how they enjoyed completing the assignment and what challenges they faced while doing so.  Generally, any small assignment that is handed in gets graded and returned to the students by the next class.  When I return the assignments, I go over ‘constructive suggestions for improvement’.  I also ensure that I have some positive feedback .  With the presentations, I always go over some of my notes from the presentations with individual groups at the conclusion of the presentations.  I never give a grade at that point but generally give them positive feedback and a couple of points for improving next time.  I then take their materials and provide an extensive review of their work at the conclusions of the all the group presentations.  Finally, I ensure that the mid term test and final exam are similar in style and structure.  In the majority of my classes, I allow the students to give input into what questions they feel would be appropriate for the exam.  I will often take their suggestions (which are usually the questions I was planning on using anyways) and incorporate some of them into the test or exam.  I then provide extensive comments on the mid term to prepare them for success on the final exam.

Emphasizes Time on Task

It is important that students engage the materials in a manner that teaches life skills as well as course materials.  One critical life skill is time management.  In the classes I teach, I hold students accountable for their due dates and times.  The meetings I set up for the group projects involve setting a timeline for the project with the group.  I also work hard to practice what I hold students accountable for.  In that I try to set a good example.  For instance, I Email all of the students a copy of the next week’s power point slides the week before.  Finally, I am always early to class and begin class exactly on schedule.  I feel that by practicing by example, I can ask the students to follow that lead.

Communicates High Expectations

I always tell the students, ‘there isn’t any good me teaching you these concepts, if you do not know where to use them one day.’  I emphasize to the students that I just do not want them to memorize the course materials but rather learn to think about them and engage the ideas.  My tests and exams as a result of this philosophy are essay style questions that ask the students not to regurgitate those concepts but to apply them to a situation. 

I believe that I challenge the students to think about what I am teaching and the greater meaning of why this is important that they know this.  I encourage them to consider the course concepts from a wide variety of perspectives and to challenge their own belief systems.  I ask the students to not only think about these concepts but to justify their thinking by using evidence to support their ideas and beliefs of ‘how things work’.  It is in this constant challenging of the students to think deeply that I am communicating that I expect them to be innovators and leaders. 

Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

In my classes I encourage students to bring their diverse talents and perspectives to the classroom environment.  In the group projects I allow students to choose from a variety of topics.  In HTMT 210 I have had projects range from volunteer tourism to restaurant design and from conference marketing to dark tourism (people who travel to places where atrocities happened).  By allowing this leeway, the students are able to incorporate a topic that relate to their special interests and lets them employ their specialized knowledge and talents.  I also strongly encourage constructive debate in my class rooms.  In all of my classes, I spend significant time on ethical issues and allow everyone to share their views on the subject matter.  In those cases, we explore the shades of grey that is ethics.  Finally, because I switch mediums every 20 minutes I address varying learning styles within the classroom setting.  By incorporating a variety of mediums into the class room there is a good chance that if one way of messaging is ineffective for one student, the message delivers using a different forum will be.

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