Teaching

For a full list of courses taught as instructor of record or teaching assistant, see my CV.

 

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Students in herpetology demonstrate amphibian communication by trying to vocally attract a blindfolded “mate” during the peak of a loud and rainy evening.

 

I approach teaching by building an engaging and transparent classroom while communicating the enthusiasm for the science that I love. Guiding students to be self-driven learners takes as much effort and preparation as any scientific project, so I’ve consistently applied pedagogical techniques that are rooted in the science of teaching and learning. When instructing a course or designing curriculum, I often use inquiry-based activities that challenge students to think scientifically.

Here are some examples of recent teaching activities:

 

Designing labs that show how science really works

IMG_4943Along with my coauthor Matt Holding, I wrote and developed a new multi-week laboratory activity for Ohio State introductory biology students. We wanted to provide students with an authentic scientific experience in order to introduce the concepts of bias, study design, and the scientific community. To do this, students are given the freedom to pursue basic questions regarding the efficacy of hand washing and work as a scientific community to compare conflicting results, variations on study design, and experimental failure. Now in its third year, the “How Real Science Works” lab has introduced thousands of Ohio State students to the scientific process.

The lab is summarized as a publication in The American Biology Teacher, and the materials are free to access and adapt to your own classroom.

 

Using Twitter to go beyond the bounds of the classroom

twitter picThis past May, I was a co-instructor with Matt Holding and Eric McCluskey for a new OSU course: The Evolution and Ecology of Reptiles and Amphibians. Matt and I developed this course from scratch, and one of our greatest priorities was building an engaging classroom environment. I piloted the use of Twitter in this course to give students a medium to communicate with each other, the instructors, and other scientists. Students reported this activity as one of their favorite aspects of the course, but we didn’t need the feedback to already know that: you can read the tweets and see for yourself using the hashtag “#OSUherps”. Our use of Twitter was featured in the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching newsletter and has since been adopted by other academic departments.

I’ve curated a selection of tweets that represent some of the fun and surprising ways students used this technology here.