Teaching and Learning Philosophies
Dr. Christina Anderson, Assistant Professor
My particular teaching style, the examples I use, and my approach to the course content varies depending upon the backgrounds, experiences, and makeup of my students. I have found that with a deep understanding of my students, I can be a more effective teacher. When following this approach, students can better relate, grasp, and truly learn.
I believe that communication empowers us. Turn to the first chapter of a plethora of communication textbooks, and the term “empowerment” is likely to be there. In my class, students learn how to empower others through messages, so that others may make positive life choices. They also learn to empower themselves during individual and group presentations, by answering questions, and by contributing to class discussions. They are active participants in the learning process. By reinforcing such behaviors, I know they are acquiring a skill they can use within their own relationships, on the job, and in the larger society.
I integrate my own and my colleagues’ research experiences for other real life examples. Ultimately, abstract ideas become crisp and real with the use of examples. Sometimes personal examples are necessary; in addition to teaching about communication, I am teaching about life. Students can relate while building a trusted relationship. This positive interaction between teacher and student helps me fulfill my role as teacher, role model, and support system which further enhances my teaching and learning techniques.
Classes commonly taught: Health Communication, Health and the Media, Interpersonal Health Communication, Communication Capstone Thesis
Dr. Gina Barker, Assistant Professor
Dr. Barker’s teaching philosophy is centered on the goal of providing students with a learning environment that is conducive to equipping them in three ways: 1) becoming critical thinkers and responsible citizens; 2) obtaining a well-rounded knowledge base and skill set; 3) transitioning into successful careers and/or graduate studies. She treats each course as a building block within a broader curricular context and feels that each course should deliver specific learning opportunities with assignments tailored to achieve learning outcomes.
In an effort to cater to different learning styles and create a diverse and engaging classroom experience, Dr. Barker varies the class time between lectures, discussions, group activities, and student presentations. She views teaching and learning as a partnership between herself and her students. While seeking to provide a sufficient degree of direction, incentives, timely feedback, inspiration, encouragement, and mentorship, she feels that students need to be treated as adults and be held accountable for their part of the learning process.
Teaching mainly public relations courses and the capstone project course, Dr. Barker’s classes blend theory and principles with opportunities to apply best practices. Students are partnering with local organizations to complete professional-level projects that they may use to enhance their portfolio and showcase to potential employers as evidence of their skills and abilities.
Classes commonly taught: Media Relations, Public Relations Practice, Strategic Communication Campaigns, Communication Capstone Project
Dr. Deborah Breede, Associate Professor
Three A’s for teaching:
Advocacy: I advocate for my students, their needs, present and future; needs that are spoken and unspoken.
Accountability: I am accountable to my students, they are accountable to me; we are accountable to each other.
Action: As advocacy and accountability are practiced, dialogic engagement on the part of teacher and professor cannot be achieved without active learning. We do not listen passively, we engage, we act.
Advocacy. Accountablilty. Action. These represent my three A’s for teaching.
Classes commonly taught: Communication General Studies: Communication Theory, Communication Research, Interpersonal Communication (commencing Fall 2013), Communication Activism, Communication Senior Thesis, Special Topics in Communication, Gender Communication
Dr. Corinne M. Dalelio, Assistant Professor
My teaching is largely focused on student-centered learning. My primary goal is to guide students through their own exploration, invention and application of the concepts that I have introduced them to. I also view the classroom as a collaborative space, in which students are able to build understandings and generate new questions through group discussion and working with each other.
An additional goal I have in teaching is to address all learning styles in both presentation and assessment. I introduce students to constructs in a variety of ways, including visual, aural, textual, and practice-oriented. I assess learning through a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures, on a variety of learning outcomes. In addition, to sustain motivation and engagement, I give students the freedom to follow their own particular interests, allowing them to choose the topics that they would like to explore in guided concept application assignments.
Finally, one of my main goals as a teacher is to continue to learn and grow each semester. In addition to ensuring that each of my students learns from me, I also feel that there is much to learn from the new and unique perspectives that the students bring. I am committed to the lifelong goal of continually broadening my own worldview and improving my own skillsets, and I learn something new with every class I teach.
Classes commonly taught: Interactive Media and Society, Communication Research
Mr. E. Stephen Daniel, Lecturer
To teach students the art and the science of rhetoric in introductory and advanced classes is a proud accomplishment of mine. I am highly student driven which feeds my aspiration to teach if I were the student myself, and express what I enjoyed while in college. Students are taught in an environment that is relaxed and enjoyable as well as being free for engagement with me and other students. This structured yet democratic style of class is my preferred method to approach pedagogy.
I strongly believe that any speech lecturer should be able to lead by example in terms of preparation, charisma, poise, and vernacular that students can understand, and gain a deeper appreciation for what speech can truly accomplish. By viewing superb speakers (as well as poor presenters) the entire class can analyze and determine what can make a good speech great. In addition, students always have the opportunity to speak either extemporaneously with speech analyses as well as impromptu speaking activities, which has anecdotally been found to lower student’s apprehension.
Moreover, my underlying premise of teaching communication and speech is to prepare students in fields including public relations, sales, human resources, and other career choices. I want my students to be able to use abilities of interpersonal to public/mass communication in the professional and/or academic fields. Communication has been proven to be a vital role in cultural expression and identity; and because of this, students will understand the finer points of analyzing and listening to our audiences and apply traditional and modern applications of communication in order to reach them.
Classes commonly taught: Introduction to Communication, Oral Communication, Advanced Public Speaking
Dr. Mark Flynn, Assistant Professor
The overriding theme of my philosophy during my teaching career thus far has been the strong belief that instructors need to create a positive learning climate in which students want to participate and engage in class activities and discussion. Connecting with my students is a central goal in this approach. I work from the first day and throughout the semester to build a positive and supportive rapport with my students. I believe that when my students feel recognized in the classroom, they strive to participate in the learning process.
I have also found that employing varied active learning techniques through a combination of assigned reading, lecture, class discussion, small-group discussion, and formative assessment creates a positive learning atmosphere and increases students’ ability to achieve learning objectives on a deep level. Additionally, a substantial part of my lecture preparation is spent finding relevant photographs, videos, and text to help students make connections to the course material and to challenge them to think about the content in new ways.
In closing, I will mention that this document is not one I will ever be able to complete. I feel that a pedagogical approach should be something that changes with time, as perspectives always do, and sitting down to reevaluate these ideas from time to time should be a priority during a career in academia.
Dr. Wes Fondren, Assistant Professor
My teaching philosophy is expressed in my most fundamental teaching goals, which are to 1) teach for learning, 2) teach for transformation, and 3) teach students.
Teach for Learning:
Dr. Robert Smith, my homiletics professor, changed my teaching forever when he said, “We don’t speak because the message needs to be spoken; we speak because the message needs to be heard.” I am still growing in my appreciation of the enormous chasm between teaching because a topic needs to be taught, and teaching because a topic needs to be learned. It affects how I create a syllabus, whether I use visual aids in the classroom, how I write a test, and, maybe most importantly, how I listen to the students. Did they learn from the test? Does their body language tell me they are hearing? Do their questions show they are learning? The driving question behind every lecture I write it is, “What would help this topic be learned?”
Teach for Transformation:
Engagement for engagement’s sake is not my goal. Engagement with meaningful content is my goal. Dr. Phillip Bishop, my teaching mentor for over a decade, once told me, “Teach for transformation, not information.” My goal for learning in the classroom is to see students’ understanding be transformed, not simply to stockpile information in their memory. Therefore, research methods becomes learning how to seek the answers to good questions. Theory building becomes making sense of our world. Transformed thinking is the goal, not just information.
Legendary football coach Paul Bryant once said, “I don’t coach football. I coach young men.” Similarly, I want to teach students, not topics. The shift in focus changes the level of feedback I give on assignments. It changes what I hear in students’ questions. It changes how I respond to students; this means trying to assess their understanding. It means me trying to know them as students and as a classroom of students so that I can communicate better. It means showing each student that he or she is important as a person and not an annoyance to be overcome. Ultimately, my goal in teaching is to fully engage students with transformational concepts in such a way that shows them they are people of value.
Classes commonly taught: Communication Theory, Communication Research, Communication and Technology, Media Effects, Communication Capstone, Senior Seminar-Entertainment
Ms. Gwen Fowler, Lecturer
My goal in the classroom is to help my students develop the basic skills they need as journalists. Above all, that means becoming critical thinkers and understanding the effects of the decisions they make in news coverage. I want them to understand the important role of the media in our society, whether the technology is today’s mobile devices or yesterday’s radio programs. I believe students learn when they understand the relevance of the subject to their life and when they can practice the skills they’re being taught. Often I tell my news writing students that I could talk to them about writing all day, but they’ll only become clear, concise and graceful writers by doing it. So in my classes, they spend much of their time gathering information and writing. Then I provide as much feedback and guidance as possible.
In larger lecture classes, I encourage my students to participate in discussion rather than being passive observers. It’s important that they feel comfortable voicing their opinions and that they know they will be treated respectfully. As much as possible, I use video clips or photographs to bring life to the topics we’re discussing.
Ultimately, students learn when they’re engaged, and finding new ways to keep them engaged is the challenge of teaching.
Classes commonly taught: Foundations of Journalism and Mass Communication, Writing for Interactive Journalism, Communication Internship
Dr. Kyle Holody, Assistant Professor
I always set out to teach well, and students should be able to trust that this is occurring. It should be assumed that I have done a good job preparing lessons, designing assignments, engaging with students, etc. The end product of good teaching is not always student learning, however. Rather than "teaching to" my students, I cultivate an environment where collaborative learning occurs. I want students to learn from me, but I also want them to teach me new ideas or perspectives, to learn on their own and from each other, and to apply what they discover to their personal lives and potential careers.
I design all of my lectures and assignments to work cohesively together. The first assignment of a semester builds toward the second, the second derives from the first and builds toward the third, etc., and all work together to help students learn and apply the information I provide. My goal is not for students to "copy and paste" course content simply to get a good grade, but rather to apply the knowledge they gain in ways they find interesting, useful, and relevant.
Students succeed in my courses when they regularly participate in class and keep up with lectures and reading, but also when they are able to critically evaluate the course content and/or apply it in new situations. To help this, I blend lectures with discussion, media and real-world examples, application assignments, and other opportunities (a) for students to take responsibility for their education and (b) for both students and myself to continually improve. While I hold students accountable to high standards, I make sure they learn those standards and understand why they exist. I also provide students with opportunities to appraise how a course is going: what is working and in what constructive ways can the course be improved?
My teaching philosophy is to hold students and myself accountable to high, relevant standards; to offer assignments that both facilitate learning and build toward higher purposes; and to give students the opportunity to take ownership of their education and to improve life outside of the classroom.
Classes commonly taught: Media Effects, Health Communication, Communication Research, Capstone: Thesis, Media and Health
Dr. Steve Madden, Professor
I view teaching as an ever-evolving, constantly reflective process. Creating a learning environment that stimulates discussion, invites challenges, and fosters a passion for knowledge is no easy feat. I continually strive for new ideas and techniques to use in the classroom and have incorporated service learning, technology, and different discussion techniques over the past years.
In my mind, the most rewarding teaching experience is the energetic comment that I get from a student who has experienced a learning moment outside of class. Part of my teaching philosophy, however, is a desire to increase the number of connections that students make. Not only does this add to their understanding of the concepts, but it also increases the chances that the material will remain with them beyond the semester and creates a deeper interest in investing in the class.
Given this goal, I frequently create assignments that encourage students to try to explain their world through communication concepts. For example, I have used service learning assignments to encourage students to invest in their communities while also exploring the course material. Students in my organizational communication courses and senior capstone courses continue to locate non-profit and at times for-profit organizations that would provide them with opportunities to interact with the public. These assignments encourage students to make the connections between theory and practice and to use their knowledge of communication to better understand their world. This not only makes better students, but also more involved and responsible citizens.
By fostering an environment that is open to different ideas, with a strong sense of immediacy, this makes this inductive process more successful. I also try to create a collaborative learning environment with a heavy emphasis on student involvement in discussion, simulation, and group activities. I will continue to search for innovative ways to reach students with the message that communication is an integral part of their lives.
Classes commonly taught: Organizational Communication, Senior Capstone (project version), Organizational Simulation, Interpersonal Communication, Conflict Management and mediation, Oral Communication
Mr. Mario Morales, Senior Instructor
I always stress with my students about the importance to do our best in everything we do, and how important it is to give back to our families, our community, our country. I try to instill in them values for the betterment of society such as, respect for others, honest and hard work, community service, and being disciplined and organized. I also ask them to take care of themselves by having a healthy lifestyle. You might think that these things do not have anything to do with learning Spanish, but I think that regardless of the subject area that we teach, we have the responsibility and the duty to not just prepare our students to excel in academics, but also to become better citizens, people concerned with what happens around us, people that can live by example and, by doing that, become role models to others.
I also think that in today’s world some people are dehumanized due to use of high tech devices that make much harder a face to face communication. I think People should be first and then things. I am also concerned about the risk of becoming a materialist society and how that is destroying our planet by polluting it in different ways. Thus, I constantly remind my students about the importance to protect our environment and all the different species that inhabit our still beautiful planet.
I always take advantage of the cultural themes that I cover in class such as, family, school, shopping, food, ecology, etc. to relate those topics to their daily life, and how we can change things that are harming us. And, most importantly, I stress the fact that we can spread the message to others by learning a second language such as Spanish, which can also broaden our horizons by being exposed to other cultures and other ways of life. By communicating in a second language, even at a basic level, a new world is open to us, a world in which we are called to become active participants, agents of change for a better world.
Mr. Brian Roessler, Lecturer
Learning is an interactive, visual, acoustic, and cognizant experience. It opens doors to new worlds of thought and creativity. To learn something new is to see the world differently. To teach is to be the tour guide to these worlds. My goal is to make the material new and fresh, it may be outside of their intellectual comfort zone or it may be a new way to look at something familiar; but I always strive to make it engaging, relevant, and rigorous.
I assert that one cannot claim to be a teacher if they do not claim to be a learner. I must stay on the cutting edge of communication technology, practice and theory in order to assert authority over the material I teach. And finally, I do not teach the student what to think. My goal is to teach the student how to critically think about the way we, as individuals and a society, communicate with one another. If I teach my students a thought, they can succeed at a test. If I teach my students to think, then they can succeed at life.
Classes commonly taught: Foundations of Journalism and Mass Communication, Organizational Communication, Communication Special Topics-Imagery of Advertising
Ms. Kim Schumacher, Lecturer
My teaching philosophy extends beyond giving students the basic technical, writing, and performance skills necessary for a career in journalism. I also believe they need a larger understanding of social responsibility; that journalists’ decisions affect public perception and reaction. Journalists are “gatekeepers,” deciding what information the public will be told, and at what level of urgency. With that responsibility, critical thinking is a key component as they choose the facts, interviews, vocabulary and video they’ll use to execute their stories.
My teaching style involves developing student skills, rather than having students absorb information to be tested on. Students learn by “doing,” and are given specific criteria to judge the quality of their own work so they can improve. This process focuses more on real world practice and examples applied to the classroom, with textbook support.
Students in my class learn in a relaxed atmosphere to promote interaction and discussion. I encourage students to speak with me about their challenges and ambitions, so I can help prepare them as they begin searching for their first jobs.
Classes commonly taught: Writing for Broadcast, Video News Production, Advanced Writing for Interactive Media, Foundations of Mass Communication and Journalism