Detailed Teaching Description
1. My communication style provides a highly structured blend of lecture and discussion formats in weekly class meetings. I typically begin by outlining my aims in the context of that week’s fit within three or four week modules in a twelve week semester. I present material with clear visual queues that tie into main ideas. This is counterbalanced with lengthier times to work through an important passage of a thinker's work or secondary source reading. To stoke curiosity and deepen engagement with concepts, I also sometimes cite artworks or film clips as examples.
2. For the past seven years I have taught my courses in blended and online modes with positive feedback from students (4.45 on a 0-5 scale). All class meeting presentation materials are available online before class times so students can follow along on their digital devices to take notes. Structured discussions occur around key readings made available online as well. Conferencing systems allow students outside the class meeting room to participate. All course lecture and discussions are video recorded for online students with area microphones. After class students can easily jump to key parts of lecture video recordings to repeat aspects where they wished to spend more time. The university’s learning management system (LMS) allows all students to engage content and assessment tasks together, sometimes in collaborative group work. I send email announcements at the start and end of the course, before assessments are due and after they are marked. I employ the LMS early intervention tools to contact students who have not engaged the material in a week's time and after assessments have not been turned in to consider if adverse circumstances were applicable.
3. High quality peer reviewed reading materials that I assign are made available in our library's online collection so that students have access as part of their normal tuition without having to purchase text books. I provide further research support as examples they can pursue if they choose to write on that topic. Depending on the week, I assign a secondary comment on a thinker or issue as well as a primary source. Both will be discussed in class and explained in lectures. For instance, in a week on Immanuel Kant, students will read the chapter on Kant in Graham Oppy's The History of Western Philosophy of Religion series, as well as Kant's "On a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns."
4. In terms of assessment, each week is designed to help students do well on particular assignments. At first year, I tend to assign quizzes at three week course module intervals to help students build up basic knowledge of the material. This is coupled with other written tasks to help students build confidence in their research writing skills. Each course includes at least one self researched essay coupled with a variety of other options such as: discussion boards; journal entries; wiki entries; peer assessments; film and book reviews; and kialo.com debates. There are typically between four and six assessments in a twelve week course to help foster engagement and a sense of progress. This structure also allows me to get in touch with students more quickly to provide feedback and suggest ways to improve.
5. Marking criteria for written tasks are based on rubrics that focus on skills such as interpretation, structure, use of sources, and written style. The latter is never weighted more than ten percent. My aim is to enhance a student's own sense of criteria for skills they are working to build. They also enhance marker deliberations in team taught courses. In upper level courses I occasionally have students mark their own work for ten percent of the overall essay mark. This allows students to apply the criteria in a low stakes manner.
6. Flexibility is increasingly important to students. The blended and online teaching platforms allow them to engage content in a variety of ways. After classes I make myself available for as long as students need to follow up on questions. I respond to emails within twenty-four hours. My office meeting times are also typically open one hour before or after class times. I use a scheduling website youcanbook.me so that students can see and book appointments easily from their digital devices. Students can meet via phone call, skype or in person. My courses do not include attendance as a marked criteria. Rather, I encourage students as best I can and incentivize attendance by clearly connecting class times to student success. For students who experience adverse circumstances, late work is allowed as per our university's adverse circumstances policy structure. I require students to follow the university's procedures to ensure that standards are fair for all.