Hi, I’m a teacher! Since 2012, I’ve taught something like two dozen individual classes for the University of Arizona (UA) in Tucson. I enjoy developing course material and assessment methods, and I try and incorporate educational research into my teaching practice. My PhD research is education-focused and my PhD minor is through the UA’s College of Education in Teaching and Teacher Education (TTE), so much of my teaching is strongly influenced by what I learn and do outside the classroom.
I taught the UA’s upper division course on biogeography for the first time in fall of 2016 and have taught it every fall semester since. Biogeography is offered out of UA’s Geography (GEOG) department and is listed as GEOG 338/438, and was previously cross-listed in the Geosciences (GEOS) and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (ECOL) departments.
I taught this course cross-disciplinarily, and the UA recognizes it as a class focused on two key course attributes, Discovery and Interdisciplinarity. The 2017 course was included as part of the U of A's strategic plan audit to encourage Engaged Learning (EL) in upper-division undergraduate courses.
This course is designed to explore how biogeographic processes influence the evolution of species, communities, and ecosystems and provides background and analytical techniques for studying the effects of global change on living things. This involves the study of the interplay between life and non-life through time and space. I also devote several weeks of the course to considering the biogeography and biogeographical implications of humans, in order to examine new work regarding concepts like novel ecosystems, anthromes, and the technosphere that are based upon emerging literature.
During the fall 2016 course, I developed the curriculum to teach in one of the UA's Collaborative Learning Spaces. The course mixed some lecture with several student activities per meeting, and students sat and worked together in small groups. I still used exams to assess students’ knowledge in 2016, but since then I have moved toward a multi-assessment method that sees students complete check assignments (to assess content knowledge and to encourage critical thinking), experience assignments (which ask students to seek out and identify biotic and abiotic patterns, create and interpret maps, and more), and a concept map (that links their interests to course experiences) as a final capstone project.
As the instructor for this course, I was nominated for the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award in 2017 and the LGBTQ Affairs "Fabulous Faculty/Staff" Outstanding Instructor Award in 2018.
Introduction to Statistics for the Social Sciences
I taught this entirely online course in the spring of 2019, primarily to undergraduate sophomores and juniors in the University of Arizona’s College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. I designed the course to be a first experience with statistics for university students across several disciplines, including criminal justice, information science, political science, public health, urban & regional development, and more. I tailored the course assignments and examples to focus in on how statistics might be used in those fields, and I challenged students in the latter half of the semester to think critically through the uses of weekly topics to their fields and according to their interests.
I also wanted to use only open source textbooks for the course, and from several possible texts I chose OpenIntro Statistics, Third Edition by Diez, Barr, and Cetinkaya-Rundel and Introductory Statistics by Illowsky and Dean.
Introduction to Physical Geography
Since the spring semester of 2016, I have been a regular spring semester laboratory instructor for UA’s Introduction to Physical Geography (GEOG 170), as well as a primary instructor for the course in the summer of 2018. As laboratory instructor, I met with four classes of twenty students once a week. Each weekly meeting would be focused on addressing additional aspects of content covered in the course’s large lecture component, to allow for activities and more student interactions. Students also completed two term papers during the course of semester, so several classes are devoted to brainstorming, remedial writing instruction, and revision.
As the course’s primary instructor in summer 2018, I assembled my own course text using excerpts from eight of the leading course textbooks. I also created a set of experience assignments, similar in concept to those I use for the biogeography course, that would allow online students to complete activities, such as calculating a groundwater budget and determining soil types, on their own.
Environment and Society
This course, GEOG 150, was my first online teaching experience. I taught this during the summer session in 2016 with about thirty students. The introductory course, according to the university website, "introduces students to the study of relationships between people and the environment from a social science perspective, and provides a context for thinking about the social causes and consequences of environmental changes in different parts of the world. It focuses on how and why the human use of the environment has varied over time and space; analyzes different approaches to decision-making about environment issues and examines the relative roles of population growth, energy consumption, technology, culture and institutions in causing and resolving contemporary environmental problems around the world."
Honors Composition: Science Fictions and Nonfictions
During my final year of the MFA, I developed an honors composition course and curriculum for the UA's Writing Program called Science Fictions and Nonfictions. If you’ve perused my work on the podcast or the videos, it should come as no surprise that I was excited to teach a class on science fiction! Over the course of fall 2013 and spring 2014, I taught three sections of about 20 students each. I used the primary texts The Secret History of Science Fiction, edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel, and The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, edited by Richard Dawkins, with supplemental texts by authors like Octavia Butler, Michael Chabon, Neil Gaiman, and Ursula K. Le Guin. I emphasized the interplay between science fiction and nonfiction writers who tackled science, as well as the unique tools, modes, and affects available to those genres.
In both semesters, I successfully applied for grants for end-semester academic conferences as a capstone project for students across multiple sections of honors composition with other instructors. To complete the course, students either prepared and gave a short speech or presented a poster regarding research they had as a part of the course.
Med-Start Tucson: Critical Reading & Thinking
In the summer of 2013, I worked with the UA School of Medicine's Office of Diversity and the Writing Program to develop a diversity summer course for high school students from rural, reservation, and economically disadvantaged areas, as well as for those students who were traditionally underrepresented in medicine. The focus of the course was on current medical practice, ethics, and research, and the summer culminated in an academic conference in which students presented research to U of A medical personnel and the students' families. For more information about the program, you can visit the Med-Start website, https://diversity.medicine.arizona.edu/med-start
Freshman Composition (English 101/102).
For the ENGL 101-102 sequence, I presented specialized classes that focused on critical thinking about writing in science. I taught three sections in fall 2012 and spring 2013. In recognition of this sequence, I was nominated for the Writing Program’s Johnnie Rae Harper first-year teaching award.