I am committed to teaching because I believe that our present-day culture demands theoretical tools for thinking critically about media engagement. My pedagogical approach to endowing students with these crucial literacies is shaped by five overarching principles:
participation • The classroom is a collaborative space that is shaped by the needs and interests of all participants. Students have a responsibility to engage actively in their own learning and to support the learning of their peers. As the professor, my responsibility is to ground, structure, and enable such an environment, and to be open to learning from my students in turn. To this end, all my courses include horizontal components such as class presentations, group workshops, and peer facilitation.
transparency • Students are entitled to reasonable expectations that are stated clearly and openly. I am committed to presenting all course requirements and their standards of evaluation in written form from the beginning of the semester, and to providing a rubric of assessment in advance for each assignment. I also request regular feedback from students on my performance as an instructor so that I can continually adapt to their needs and concerns.
process • The value and success of critical thinking and writing is a matter of process as much as of end product. I aim to illuminate and develop this process by offering students guidelines for managing its component steps. I also formalize this breakdown by constructing assignments cumulatively so that students work through one project in several stages with distinct goals. For a final essay, I might first require a presentation that is then written up as a blog post before being revised and expanded at the end of the term.
reflexivity • Students should learn through and not just about media technologies. Thus, my experiential approach involves them in using the artifacts that we’re studying and in thinking critically about this use. I mobilize online social media platforms to structure, share, and network course materials and student work, and I’m always seeking new ways to productively integrate technology into the classroom. Also, I typically require at least one project per semester that mobilizes and develops skills in creative multimedia production, encouraging students to consider strategies for effective multimodal communication.
relevance • Courses should be flexible enough to encompass the phenomena of the moment, the objects that excite, amuse or trouble students. I generally build time into class for participatory show-and-tell (often the labs/screenings serve this purpose), and I invite students to introduce new materials in presentations and other coursework. As the professor, it is my job to help students make meaningful connections between the theoretical traditions of my field and their own personal and cultural experiences.
I strive to make my classroom an inviting and dynamic space for students with differing backgrounds, views, and passions to critically engage their media landscape.
[Statement of Teaching Philosophy, 2011]