The main purpose of my teaching portfolio is to document my personal growth and professional development in teaching. I've organized this portfolio into four main sections: (1) course design and planning, (2) classroom effectiveness, (3) assessment of student learning, and (4) professional development. While the main purpose of my portfolio is to promote critical self reflection, this portfolio may also be used to assess my techniques and abilities in the classroom. In each section I will introduce an artifact that represents my current state and continued progress in teaching.
Teaching Philosophy Statement
My teaching philosophy statement outlines my relationship with teaching. It documents my motivation for choosing an academic career and explores the values that have engendered my student-centric approach to teaching. It concludes by road-mapping my future steps for continued professional development.
Course Design and Planning
The main purpose of this section is to document my skills preparing for and planning my courses. Reflecting on my course preparation is important for continued efficiency. Over time, this section will be updated with artifacts that provide a fuller representation of my course preparation. For now, I've included a sample syllabus for a Principles of Microeconomics course, a teaching plan in Principles of Microeconomics, and sample handouts from Multiple Regression Analysis and Principles of Microeconomics.
The sample syllabus provides the macro-picture of my course preparation for an introductory microeconomics course. I begin by introducing students to current inquiries that economic theories have been used to address. I further tie economic models to public policy, thereby linking my students to economics through a public policy lens. After introducing my students to economics, I outline the learning objectives of my course. These learning objectives are closely linked to the course assessments. In this way, I highlight the skills and objectives each assessment has been designed to test. Next, I detail each individual assessment and the interaction of the assessments. For instance, course participation is designed to keep students actively engaged throughout the week while developing students' ability to explain their own work to their peer groups. Weekly homework serves a dual purpose, it provides a first-pass understanding of theories and prepares students for exams. Exams are used to develop a student's ability to apply theories to new problems. Student response papers have been implemented to develop student's written communication skills. Lastly, I utilize in-class group debates to develop student's ability to cohesively develop an argument within a group and defend that argument through oral communication. The skills developed throughout this course encompass the lifelong learning outcomes I want to engender in each of my students. I conclude my syllabus with tips for success in the course as well as ways in which my students can get additional help throughout the course.
Sample Teaching Plan
The sample teaching plan provides the micro-picture of my course preparation. This particular lesson plan was developed during my first semester teaching Principles of Microeconomics at Ithaca College in the fall of 2016. Teaching my own course provided me many experiences for critical reflection. In particular, I learned that students greatly appreciate a variety of stimuli throughout each class meeting. Thus, I began including active engagement of students through in-class exercises in addition to traditional lecture. Here, I've prepared a 50 minute course section on public goods and the free rider problem. Students appeared to greatly appreciate this activity and benefited by learning how free riding affects everyone's outcome. I further learned the importance of preparing enough time to debrief each activity. Going forward, I will be more cognizant of the debrief time needed for each activity.
Sample Section Handout
I've provided two sample section handouts from my teaching experiences. The first handout represents a typical TA-section handout from Multiple Regression Analysis (PAM 3100), which I TA-ed in the spring of 2015. I organized my section handouts to provide sample questions similar to my student's homework questions. Students asked that I provide space in my handouts for them to write the solution to the questions. The second handout was utilized in my Principles of Microeconomics course at Ithaca College in fall 2016 (ECON 12200). My students noted that they wanted more in-class practice going over difficult questions. This particular handout highlights the types of questions I expected my students to address on homework assignments. The in-class questions were designed to engage students during each class period and prepared students to complete their weekly homework.
The main purpose of this section is to document my evolving practices of teaching strategies. Of particular importance is the feedback I receive from my students who provide analysis of my methods and recommendations for improvement. In both of my previous teaching experiences I have asked students to provide feedback during and after the semester. A recurring constructive comment has emerged from these student evaluations: I need to speak more slowly, speak more loudly, and progress through the material less quickly. The volume and pace of my lecture has improved over the course of my teaching career, however, this remains an area of continued development. To help with my volume and pace, I have engaged in workshops and courses devoted to improving public speaking skills for academics such as ALS 6014: Theater Techniques for Academic Public Speaking. In addition, I have consulted with a speech coach who has suggested I work on building my confidence through intonation. In the future, I plan to implement more student evaluation methods such as a one-minute essay, a muddiest moment card, and concept questions designed to quickly gauge student understanding.
I have had the privilege of working with many different students during my graduate education. Each student learns in a different manner and what works for one student may not work for another. Therefore, it is important to gauge how students are interacting with your teaching methods. While I ask students to provide feedback during class or in office hours, I have received the most candid and constructive feedback during anonymous evaluations. In general, my students rate my teaching above the department average. In particular, my students have commended me on my availability, one-on-one attention, and care to their individual student learning. My students have noted that I move quickly through material and speak quite softly. Despite these shortcomings, my students have also noted improvement of my teaching throughout the semester. My full evaluations with raw data are available upon request. Here, I've included a summary of my student evaluations from Principles of Microeconomics (Instructor, Ithaca College) and Multiple Regression Analysis (Teaching Assistant, Cornell University).
Assessment of Student Learning
This section documents my evolving practices for assessing students. I use both authentic and traditional forms of assessment throughout my course. Traditional assessments are used for homework assignments, quizzes, and exams. Authentic assessments have been used in short response papers. In the future, I plan to incorporate self- and peer-assessment as these skills are necessary for students entering the workforce. I provide extensive feedback on student homework, papers, and exams to help students improve for future projects and assignments. In the future, I also plan to incorporate more extensive feedback to students through one-on-one office hour appointments.
Sample Short Paper Assignment
I encourage my students to engage in broader political discussions by reading the news. To assist my students in reading and analyzing the news, I have asked them to respond to recent news articles related to an economic policy. In the fall of 2016, I asked my students to discuss a recent article on paid sick leave. Students were required to analyze the labor market using paid sick leave as a corrective measure for the negative externality created by sick workers. This assignment relied on authentic assessment through application of theory.
This rubric was created as a means of grading the short paper assignment introduced above. However, this particular rubric was generated after the course ended. In the future, I will use rubrics to aid students with self- and peer-assessment. In particular, I will want students to self- and peer-assess during in-class debates and group projects.
Sample Weekly Homework Assignment
This sample weekly homework assignment is representative of the types of questions I would expect my students in Principles of Microeconomics to complete. Weekly homework assignments are used for formative assessment of students. Each graded assignment is returned with constructive comments. Assignments are graded for effort and thus the main purpose of weekly homework is to provide me with feedback on what my students are still struggling to understand. Given their responses, I amend my lecture and in-class activities to ensure my students are successful on their summative assessments (exams).
In order to maintain my commitment to my students, I must continue my own professional development. I will reflect back to my value statement and my teaching philosophy statement to ensure that I am adequately prioritizing my values and balancing my teaching and service goals. To ensure that I remain at the edge of economic inquiry, I will continue to contribute to my discipline through the production of new research. I will attend annual conferences, meet with seminar participants, and I will actively seek out opportunities to present my own research at peer institutions. I will continue to seek new ways to actively engage my students within and outside the classroom. Lastly, I will take time to critically reflect on my teaching strategies and outcomes.
In the spring of 2017 I had the opportunity to interview a faculty member at Cornell University whom I deeply admire. I was particularly struck by her ability to conduct cutting-edge research with student coauthors, earn tenure, spend time with her family, and maintain a commitment to personal health. I saw her as a true role model, someone whose experiences I wanted to emulate in near entirety. I learned several important strategies to achieve my goals. First and foremost, I should be strategic and purposeful with my work. I should write out a one-year plan, a five-year plan, and a ten-year plan. Then I should identify strategies for achieving those goals. I should also focus on crafting career opportunities for myself rather than waiting and relying on other people to offer me these opportunities. I learned that everyone faces challenges. Some of these challenges can be ameliorated through preparation and support networks. I learned that I must set boundaries, explain my objectives and expectations clearly, and be honest with students and colleagues.
Graduate School Courses
While in graduate school at Cornell I participated in two courses that helped me form my teaching identity: Theater Techniques for Enhancing Teaching and Public Speaking (ALS6014) and Teaching in Higher Education (ALS6015). I will briefly discuss the benefits of both to my professional development.
This course will help me to create a more inclusive classroom and presentation environment because I plan to utilize the techniques presented throughout the course. To gather feedback from students, early and often, I will utilize the "muddiest moment" and "one-minute essay" to gauge student understanding. A large section of the course was devoted to utilizing a "yes, and" mindset. I think the largest benefit of the “Yes, And…” mindset is that it reduces perceived judgement in the classroom, allowing students to feel more secure in voicing their opinions. In my own discipline, economics, there are multiple viewpoints to discuss a single policy. The “Yes, And…” mindset allows everyone to voice their opinions and viewpoints without feeling shutdown if political ideologies differ. Lastly, I can utilize improvisation itself into my classroom experiences. Improvisation as a teaching style includes games and activities within in the classroom. It allows students to learn through application rather than simply being told the process or facts. Improvisation teaches students to think and process quickly. Improvisational games change the pace of the course and change the stimulus of the class keeping students engaged throughout the entire course.
Throughout this course I was introduced to teaching techniques, concepts, and ideas that I had not thought to implement within my own courses previously. This course provided me the necessary tools to become a student-centered instructor. The process of writing my teaching philosophy required me to focus on what I mean by learning within my courses. This course forced me to challenge my hegemonic assumptions on what students need from a course and instructor. In particular, I benefited from discussions on the need for both authentic assessment and traditional assessment. As a result of discussions on self- and peer-assessment, I have begun to incorporate more active techniques into my course preparation. ALS6015 culminated in the creation of this teaching portfolio.