- American Physiological Society. 09/01/2018 - present. Position : Member.
- American Diabetes Association. 06/01/2018 - present. Position : Member.
- Weight Management Dietetics Practice Group. 01/01/2017 - present. Position : Member.
- The Obesity Society. 01/01/2016 - present. Position : Member.
- Research Dietetics Practice Group. 01/01/2012 - present. Position : Member.
- American College of Sports Medicine. 01/01/2012 - present. Position : Member.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 01/01/2009 - present. Position : Member.
- Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition dietetic practice group. 01/01/2009 - present. Position : Member.
An Investment in Knowledge Pays the Best Interest
I approach teaching with a combination of humanism and essentialism philosophies. My overall goal as a college educator in exercise science, nutrition and related sciences is to help students develop into critical thinkers and problem solvers who possess the discipline specific knowledge and skills required for careers as evidence-based healthcare professionals and/or researchers. Additionally, I am passionate about higher education and the subjects I teach, so I also strive to ignite curiosity, and foster a lifelong love of learning. Key to meeting these goals is a student-centered learning environment in which the instructor can act as a facilitator, content expert, and practitioner role model. Specific features of my teaching philosophy and strategy include: outcomes-based course design with clear learning objectives; interactive lectures and engagement outside the classroom; individual and group case-and problem-based activities; challenging assessments; and opportunities for reflection and growth.
An outcomes-based course is designed to guide students towards what they need to be able to do by the end of the course. It is distinct from a content-based course because it involves action and guarantees a high-level of student engagement. With this framework in place, I provide students with transparent objectives that include multiple learning domains. Targeting of higher-level skills, such as analysis and creation, is my ultimate objective. However, without mastery of foundational knowledge through lower-order taxonomic skills, such as recollection and description, students will have difficulty progressing through Bloom’s taxonomy to higher-order taxonomic skills required for their professional careers. Importantly, this focus on increasingly challenging objectives allows development of students’ self-efficacy. I have found this approach results in increased student agency over their learning. Outcomes-based courses and explicit learning objectives inform the class procedures and activities, and ensure the creation of fair, focused, and relevant assessments.
Generally, I format class sessions as interactive lectures. This structure allows me to explain and clarify information from assigned readings, while also providing students opportunities to put course content in to practice with activities. Examples include 2 to 15 minute “think, pair, shares”, problem solving, and mini case studies. These activities serve as informal assessments to gauge student comprehension and allow for ‘just-in-time teaching’. This means I adjust the class activity and lecture to respond to misconceptions or confusion. Importantly, in-class activities allow students to check their understanding, reflect on the effectiveness of their study habits, and create a plan to adjust their preparation strategies moving forward. Furthermore, classroom assessments are completed in a collaborative and supportive environment. Often times I have students work in small groups so that they can learn from their peers, while also having the ability to ask me questions.
Informal assessments serve as the base for formal assessments. My exams assess learning objectives and target application of knowledge, not simply reiteration of content. Class size dictates the specific format of exams (e.g. – primarily short answer and essay for smaller classes, and multiple choice questions for larger classes), but the purpose remains the same: to provide students an opportunity to showcase their understanding and learning. Out-of-class assessments include case studies, simulations, and project-based learning. These formats require students to synthesize and apply acquired knowledge to solve problems, manage situations, or create products. I strive to create assessments that are similar to the expectations that will be placed on students in their future careers. As such, cooperative learning may be paired with these activities in order to help students develop teamwork skills required in the healthcare environment.
I affirm that the social context in which learning occurs is important. Therefore, I strive to be available to, and interact with my students outside of classroom sessions. I make efforts to learn students’ names, backgrounds, ambitions, goals, and interests. In addition to being responsive via email and holding several open office hours per week, I encourage my students to connect with me on social media channels. This interaction is beneficial for not only developing rapport with students, but also increasing their engagement with, and excitement about, course content. Feedback from students suggests my focus on the human connection is well-received. For example a student comment in a recent course evaluation, stated the following about me as an instructor: “She was very helpful and always got the students involved. She cares a lot about everyone’s success. She even took the time to remember everyone’s name in the class (of over 100 students) because she wanted everyone to succeed.” Furthermore, many students have informed me that they appreciate the passion I have for teaching and the energy I bring to the classroom, as exemplified by this student evaluation comment: “She seemed really passionate about teaching this class, her excitement was contagious. She also talked a lot from personal experience which told me she really knew what she was doing.”
In sum, I believe “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” (Benjamin Franklin) and I am enthusiastic about the role formal classroom teaching has on knowledge acquisition and application. Additionally, I endorse that ‘learning science’ is not simply memorization of facts, but more importantly it is the process of learning how to think in a systematic, critical manner. The purpose of obtaining knowledge is to transform it into a practical and applicable way in which to evaluate the world and interact with others. Thus, I blend humanism and essentialism teaching philosophies to inform my pedagogical strategies and meet my overall mission as an educator.