Teaching and Mentoring
Beyond the powerpoint slide: active learning and critical thinking
As a teacher and mentor, I aim to portray my excitement for the study of behavior, so that students can see the power of the scientific method and the interesting questions that logical experiments can answer. My experience and evaluations from students suggest that this excitement not only draws students towards science but it also sets the stage for improved student learning/ thinking that will help them in any career path that they choose. When basic biological principles are presented with clarity and course expectations are clearly laid-out, students will rapidly move beyond memorization, towards high order critical thinking skills (analyze, evaluate, create). My teaching methods emphasize this approach, so that when it comes time to write a paper or take an exam, students are better prepared to draw links between concepts and to excel at critical thinking.
Moving 'beyond the powerpoint slide' is an important step in engaging students. My lectures typically include an apparent 'break,' where students are asked to solve a short problem in smaller groups, watch a quick You-Tube video, or pose a hypothesis or experiment to follow-up on a concept that I just presented. Not surprisingly, active learning exercises and similar types of 'research based instruction' have recently been shown to improve student learning, attendance, and engagement.
Scientific ethics and the training of future academic scientists
Graduate students typically report excellent training in the science portion of being a scientist; however, academic scientists must wear many different hats to be successful (mentor, teacher, manager, advisor, mediator, etc.), and how to succeed at each of these roles is often not taught.
Modeled after some of the pre-professional training offered by my department and university during graduate school, I have implemented a series of professional development modules for others in the lab/department at Indiana. These have included: an anonymous survey of faculty/students about lab management, discussion of anonymous letters from faculty re: 'What type of school is right for you', guides for how to get a postdoc, targeted readings of how to manage a lab (inspired by Mohamed Noor's blog), etc. I have taken an active role in discussing these issues with undergraduates as well, both informally and during panels re: graduate school at various undergraduate research symposia.
Ethical decision-making lies at the heart of many of the issues we encounter in our roles as teacher, mentor and researcher. At IU, I have also emphasized this arm of scientific training as a panelist at a university-wide ethics training and also as a co-instructor for Scientific Ethics for the BioBehavioral Sciences.
Undergraduates: science in action!
If you are interested in working with me, and you have an interest in the ecology or evolution of behavior, sexual selection in females, or mechanisms of behavior, please contact me with information about your interests and availability.