My teaching philosophy is student-centered. As an educator, I challenge undergraduates to break the mentality of “what is the right answer” and to focus on building skills that will serve them throughout their career as engineers. My aim is to prepare students to work in cross-disciplinary environments as well as develop the cognitive flexibility to solve engineering challenges that transcend disciplinary boundaries. Meaning, I aim to teach skills, through connection of theory to practice, rather than focus on covering content. While I keep some elements of the traditional lecture style, I also challenge the students to be interactive in class through the use of the following pedagogies of engagement: Active learning, Deep learning, Experiential learning, Project-based learning, and Problem-based learning. I provide students with opportunities to learn and apply concepts in directed and un-directed experiences. I get excited about planning a course and thinking through how all the course elements come together to tell the “story” of the topic.
I joined the faculty at James Madison University (JMU) in 2011. Since then I have taught engineering courses from first year to senior year and regularly rotate between three elective courses. The courses in order by course number that I have taught or teach regularly are:
- ENGR 101 – Engineering Opportunities
- ENGR 231 – Engineering Design 1
- ENGR 232 – Engineering Design 2
- ENGR 313 – Circuits and Instrumentation
- ENGR 331 – Engineering Design 3
- ENGR 332 – Engineering Design 4
- ENGR 413 – Systems Analysis
- ENGR 431 – Engineering Design 5
- ENGR 432 – Engineering Design 6
- ENGR 440 – Mechatronics
- ENGR 498 – Bio-inspired Design
- ENGR 498 – Medical Innovations (part of the X-Labs courses)
My teaching related contributions have made a significant impact on the Madison Engineering program. Not only have I been flexible and adaptable in meeting the needs of the department, but I have demonstrated vitality and innovation in my teaching as well as a commitment to the students that goes beyond the classroom.
To ensure my students are prepared, I must be prepared to teach them. Thus, I am committed to developing professionally as an educator and have engaged in activities and self-directed study to increase my effectiveness as an educator. For example, as a Madison Teaching Fellow, I studied deep learning; this experience was the catalyst that set me on a path to being recognized for innovative pedagogy. Since that experience, I have been actively using innovative teaching methods and pedagogies of engagement. I have also been an active participant in a many JMU Center for Faculty Innovation (CFI) workshops, as well as KEEN Engineering Unleashed Faculty Development workshops and conferences. For example, as a result of my CFI engagement I implemented metacognition questions each week in my Circuits and Instrumentation course (among many other evidence-based pedagogical approaches); this addition positively impacted students’ ability to identify methods and patterns of learning and improve their problem solving. In 2013, I was nominated for and selected through competitive review to attend the National Academy of Engineering’s 5th Frontiers of Engineering Education symposium for the innovative Systems Analysis course, which is a national recognition of innovative teaching. I have come to appreciate the scholarship of teaching and learning, and understanding and implementing innovative pedagogy. My commitment has directly benefited the students I teach, and has resulted in opportunities for students to learn in ways that engage multiple learning styles and modes of thinking to foster adaptive problem-solving skills and cognitive flexibility.
As an educator, I create value in the world by preparing students to be successful in the ever changing and demanding engineering landscape.