I had to write a statement of my teaching philosophy for my portfolio, which my school uses to evaluate the faculty. I just used the statement that I wrote while I was at my previous institution, but I have a strong feeling that this statement is going to change in the next year. It sounds too abstract.

I found a helpful site called Confessions of a Community College Dean, by Dean Dad, which I’ve been enjoying. Unfortunately, I found it AFTER I submitted my teaching philosophy statement. Dean Dad says to be specific and use examples. I didn’t do that at all.

In any case, here is my statement:

As any good teacher will tell you, students only remember about five percent of what they hear. Active learning stresses students’ engaged participation in their own education. It requires hands-on engagement that takes concepts and puts them in real world contexts so that students’ learning is meaningful to them outside of textbooks. Additionally, active learning requires the teacher to teach to multiple channels of learning. Although many faculty feel that active learning is fluff and detracts from the real business of teaching, I believe that active learning makes students more responsible for their own education because they become invested in the learning process. I would rather have students learn in ways that complement lecturing if that means they can carry what they’ve learned with them for the rest of their lives. Otherwise, they tend to memorize a class lecture and then promptly forget as soon as they turn in a test. Active learning is the vehicle for accomplishing my teaching goals.
The second watchword of my educational philosophy is collaborative learning. Educators have show through research that students learn better when they are in a collaborative learning environment. I also believe that collaborative learning teaches students skills sets that they need for survival beyond college. It teaches them how to work with others. Collaborative learning in which students work in groups in classroom activities or on graded projects fosters an environment in which students must cooperate with each other. The goal is mandated by my belief that communication is necessary for a well-trained, prepared citizenry.
Third, I believe in developing students’ critical thinking skills by which I mean the higher order thinking skills described in Bloom’s taxonomy. While I recognize that there are multiple intelligences and learning styles, I follow Bloom’s standard because it allows me to cultivate the argumentation skills that students need, it provides a useful framework for teaching, and it offers a solid vocabulary for measurable outcomes. Because I desire students to develop their own positions on critical public issues, my goal as a teacher is to “push” students to the highest level of evaluation on Bloom’s taxonomy. In order for students to reach that level, they must move through the lower levels of analysis and synthesis as stages in a developmental learning process.
Three primary influences inform my teaching philosophy. The first is Jim Eison, one of the premier proponents of active learning, and the founder of the Center for Teaching Enhancement at my doctoral institution. I received training at the center during my doctoral education and I have since been a strong advocate of active learning. The second is the writings of Paulo Freire, whose model of liberatory education emphasizes empowering students and teaching them how to learn. He contrasts liberatory education with the passive banking model of education in which faculty make knowledge deposits and students make withdrawals. Third is the long history and tradition of my discipline of rhetorical studies, which seeks to cultivate students as model citizens and teach them how to communicate as part of educating a citizenry. These three influences helped me develop a teaching style that emphasizes active learning, collaborative learning, and higher order critical thinking skills.

1 Comment

  1. I think this sounds great– and this is the approach we advocate at the DMC. We’re all about active learning, constructivist theories, that kind of thing. You also should know that I’ve been borrowing/stealing strategies and examples from you for years! Lately the stolen good have found their way into some of the workshops I now teach.

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