Teaching Philosophy

My philosophy of teaching and learning is based on social cognitive theory and social constructivism. I believe as humans, we can learn from everyone around us, including our peers, instructors, professional experts, friends, and family members.

Image of a brain with flowers, leaves and branches.

In a constructivist learning experience, students share their understandings, feelings, prior knowledge, and experiences to create new knowledge. In these experiences, the instructor is the facilitator and guides students in their learning. At the same time, I think of instructors as students or life-long learners if they have an open mind and a willingness to continually improve the quality of their content design and delivery. I believe all students are capable of learning and that all people can be considered learners.

In my teaching practice, I apply active learning concepts as I believe active learning has the potential to challenge students to question ideas and to search for answers. I encourage my students to find answer themselves rather than just supplying them with the answers. I believe this helps students to better understand the meaning behind what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how it relates to their version of ‘real life.’ I have presented at numerous conferences on interactive teaching techniques and the application of technologies for instruction, when appropriate. I co-presented a concurrent presentation at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) conference about trans-disciplinary collaboration in health professions education. As a life-long learner myself, I seek out opportunities to connect with education thought leaders.

Upon reflection as I was writing this philosophy of my teaching, I find myself on a constant quest to discover new teaching methods that are more student-centered and to determine what tools can provide an enhanced learning experience for my students. For example, I have taught at three universities in the Chicago area. At one of them, Northern Illinois University (NIU), I taught a graduate course on multimedia design (ETT 555). I re-designed the course and taught it regularly for a few years. For part of the final project in this course, students created a digital story and a digital job aid that incorporated video and audio as an instructional tool to teach someone else how to perform a task. Over the course of the term, they learned about various aspects of multimedia design that can be overlooked such as user experience (UX), copyright, and accessibility.

While I was teaching there, NIU used a cloud-based video service called Kaltura to create and house video content. It seemed logical to me to use it to house my own video content such as pre-recorded lectures for courses I taught. I introduced this technology to my students as it is typically used in higher education: as a means for students to passively review pre-recorded content and how we would be using it in a more interactive way. For my multimedia design students, I introduced Kaltura in a unique way as a production tool they could use to complete their own projects. By utilizing and demonstrating emerging technologies when teaching my students, I hope that I instilled in my students a passion that will continue into their own professional lives. As a result, I find that technology allows students to broaden their horizons beyond a single physical room to an entire world of knowledge.

The projects students were required to complete for my multimedia design class got them more involved in the video creation process than perhaps they had been exposed to before. Most of my students were in the K-12 environment and I received positive feedback regularly on these types of exercises and projects from them and how they were able to repurpose what they have learned in class as a student to their own classrooms. This is but one example to showcase how I regularly research these types of tools to better understand how different learning strategies and technology can affect student learning and motivation to learn.

During my time at the University of Illinois College of Medicine (UICOM), I have had responsibilities behind the scenes as well as ‘in the room,’ especially virtual ones during the pandemic. I led the transition for the entire face-to-face preclinical and clinical curriculum to an online format at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. My experience with developing both online and face-to-face courses at the higher education level over many years has provided me valuable insights to share with my colleagues who had to quickly learn how to deliver content in a completely new environment. I have taught faculty development workshops in the college on various topics such as designing slides with accessibility in mind and effective ways to break up content delivery at regular intervals to maintain the attention of their students. I developed and continue to maintain an upskilling website for our faculty and staff. If you are curious, it can be found here: http://comfaculty.uic.edu.

Over the years at UICOM, I have become an expert practitioner of inquiry-based learning (IBL)­, specifically team-based learning (TBL) as it is used heavily at our school. Team-based activities require a different type of classroom management than a typical didactic session. I collaborate with subject matter expert colleagues to determine appropriate pacing of content and what technologies (if any) might improve our content delivery in a positive, student-centered way and yet not get in the way of teaching. I led an important project to standardize our content delivery types and definitions for the medical school to ensure we were all referring to the curriculum in a consistent manner.

I have taught students in face-to-face, blended, HyFlex, and fully online course environments throughout my career. I developed (or redeveloped) and instructed several online courses such as the Multimedia (ETT 555) course I mentioned earlier, Human Resource Development (ETT 561). and Instructional Media and Technology (ETT 510) for Northern Illinois University, and Instructional Design in Human Resource Development (HRD 406) at Northeastern Illinois University.

I am passionate about teaching and learning. By showing my students my passion and interest for the topics being taught, I have seen that it generates excitement and sets up a stronger motivation in them to learn.