I believe teaching science is important, outside of the obvious response (i.e. to ensure the passage of valuable information to future scientists), because it give students practical skills that they can use in their everyday lives. Decades after they take a class they may not need to remember that RNA polymerase transcribes RNA from DNA but they can use scientific principals such as systematic deductive reasoning, hypothesis generation, and logical thinking to enhance their decision making processes every day. I am passionately committed to teaching students to think scientifically.
I have had some exceptional teaching role models in my academic career. Those professors that stand out are those teachers who actively engaged their students with hands-on demonstrations (e.g. using lab items such as tubing and styrofoam packing inserts to simulate the RNA and ribosomes during translation) and those who are extremely excited about their fields however unrelated or mundane they may seem (my two semesters of constitutional history as an undergraduate exemplifies this). I also found those classes that related the teaching material to real world experiences to be the most memorable and useful and it is these core characteristics that I would like to bring to my teaching
Teaching objectives and goals
I view biology as a connected collection of concepts and processes which is why I will encourage students to integrate the concepts they learn in my classes. My objectives as a teacher are to get students excited about biology and inspire creativity, curiosity, and critical thinking. I will achieve these objectives by integrative learning and linking things they have already learned to new information, teaching concepts rather than rote memorization, use real world applications to address perceptions about biology, utilize up-to-date information and technology, create an environment where the students feel comfortable asking questions, and try to encourage critical reading and thinking skills. I will assess student learning using standard methods such as homework, quizzes, and exams, discussion groups, and term papers. However, I will also challenge students to create demonstrations of biological processes as visual learning and audience participation can be much more effective than simply lecturing. I also think conducting periodic assessments of the material during class (e.g. with handheld electronic clickers) will be useful in determining if the material is being absorbed.
The most important thing I want my undergraduate students to take from my course(s) is that biology is an every dynamic and exciting field and what we know now must be adapted with time. I hope they understand basic biological processes and how they relate to each other and how to critically analyze experiments and results and draw conclusions. I would also like for them to learn how biology relates to real-life (e.g. why taking a full course of antibiotics is necessary). Teaching tactics that I did not find useful during my undergraduate days include the memorization of structures and facts and one-on-one confrontational assessments between the professor and students (i.e. oral exams); I will try to avoid these when I teach my classes.
Biology 357 - Introduction to Microbiology
Textbook: Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 11-13th edition; Madigan, Martinko, Stahl, Clark.
Biology 358 - Introduction to Microbiology Lab
Text: Microbiology Laboratory Theory and Application, 3rd edition; Leboffe and Pierce
Course materials –
posted as needed and check Blackboard
BIOL 357 Syllabus (tentative) - click here (requires Microsoft Word)
BIOL 358 Syllabus (tentative) - click here (requires Microsoft Word)
Teaching opportunities – no current postings