Project Statement Samples IV
IV. SAMPLE TEACHING STYLE DESCRIPTIONS
Over the course of my career, I have taught a wide variety of courses: principles of my field, research methods, quantitative analysis, population, social stratification, social structures, ethical issues in social science research, aging and social change, and ethical issues. I am quite comfortable with classes of different sizes, at different levels, and with various teaching styles. Early in my career, I received funding from the National Science Foundation to create an inductive, data-based approach to teaching introductory courses and students. More recently, I have been delivering distance learning courses via two-way interactive television. I was instrumental in developing both the Minor and the Certificate Program in my field at the University and, along with other colleagues, have been responsible for the administrative oversight of these programs. My various curricular contributions were recognized in1984 by receipt of the Outstanding Educator and in 2002 by receipt of the Named Award from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.
Due to my 29 years of experience in the education and rehabilitation of people with visual impairments, with 19 years of the 29 years spent in the personnel preparation of vision professionals, I am in a unique position to assist in a university’s program development and delivery efforts focusing on this area. Of the 19 years of university teaching experience, 15 of those years were spent offering course work via distance education methods. These methods included traveling to satellite campuses to offer face-to-face courses on weekends, as well as offering course work via interactive television and the Internet.
Allow me to single out three aspects of my teaching philosophy that may be of relevance. First, I contend that some exposure to my area of specialization ought to be a required part of every college and university curriculum…it behooves us to infuse specific content into the higher education curriculum and to familiarize college and university students with the nature of the changes that are occurring and the likely implications and challenges that follow from this global phenomenon….
A second emphasis in my teaching relates to the synergistic relationship between teaching and research. It has been an axiom of my pedagogical approach that learning is enhanced if students are exposed to the latest scholarly research, if they come to see knowledge acquisition as an on-going process, and if they witness the excitement of knowledge discovery. Thus, I try to include in all of my courses a glimpse of my research as well as the research of others. I also make an effort to acquaint students with different methodological approaches—with “ways of knowing”—and with the limits of what we know and where the major research gaps are to be found. If not producers, it is important for students at least to become intelligent and critical consumers of research….
A third and final emphasis in my teaching arises from an understanding that mentorship occurs at times and in ways that might surprise us. I have come to see that classroom teaching itself is often an unintended and unconscious form of mentorship. In a sense, we’re always “on,” whether we realize it or not. Sociologists might refer to this as a latent function of our classroom role. The most recent example comes from my teaching experience in Romania. At the conclusion of my course on the Sociology of Aging, the students invited me to a going-away occasion at a local bistro in Bucharest. As I chatted with each of them, a young graduate student made a comment that left a powerful impression on me. “Thank you,” Ana said, and I expected to hear something to the effect that she had enjoyed the course. But she took me aback when she said, “you taught me how to teach!” Her comment brought home the power of mentorship—not only were the students learning from what I had to say, but they were also being exposed to a more informal and interactive model of classroom pedagogical style, one that was somewhat different from that to which they were accustomed.
Upon leaving industry, a career in education began. I developed the first university course and edited the first trade book on web globalization management. The traditional classroom experience offered the opportunity to connect with the students physically in front of me. The online teaching platform has now allowed me reach a wider audience. For the past several years, I have been teaching distance education courses in the intercultural communication and international business areas. I am proud to have the distinction of having taught students logging on from all of the seven continents of the world. As an avid globalist, I am convinced that educating students about the importance of intercultural understanding, despite their background or location, remains relevant across borders. I am currently facilitating a course on intercultural communication with students from 15 different countries. I have also been honored as an Honorary Recognized Teacher of the [university].
There are three components at the heart of my philosophy of teaching; they guide my role in the classroom. First, I feel I have a personal obligation to prepare and conduct courses that are intellectually engaging, informative, and rigorous. This requires that I prepare detailed syllabi, specific assignments and examination study guides, and clear criteria to guide my evaluation of students’ work. …I understand and appreciate my responsibility to provide students with substantive information and marketable skills such as critical thinking and writing….Second, I encourage a stimulating, safe learning environment to ensure that students are eager and comfortable about their participation. I treat students respectfully, and ask that they treat their peers with the same level of respect. I encourage a marketplace of ideas and always solicit participation in the classroom. I do not teach at students. Rather, my lectures promote a dialogue about the material. Third, I help students understand how education prepares them for the future and assist them in planning their careers. I constantly stress the relevance of the subject matter, and I use real world examples to illustrate the practical application of the information and skills learned in class. I also promote service activities as part of a well-rounded education and motivate students to responsibly contribute to the community. And, because graduates will likely enter the job force or seek new opportunities upon leaving the University, I encourage students to pursue their educational and vocational goals and assist them in accomplishing them using a variety of methods, from talking about education or employment options and helping with searches, to inspiring them to “think outside the box” and consider a more innovative or novel path.