Teaching

My overarching goal is to prepare students to recall or access their knowledge accurately and quickly. Universal Learning Design, a pedagogical philosophy emphasizing individual strengths and experiences, primarily influences my teaching. In that regard, to accommodate students’ diverse interests, learning styles, and prior knowledge, I employ a variety of approaches to teaching anthropology. Because students learn better through recalling information rather than rereading their textbook or notes, I encourage students to assist in review before exams through calling out answers and the whiteboard – e.g., creating a list of common primate locomotor forms from memory. In addition, I recommend that they practice expressing the material through informal presentations to one another throughout the lab. These practices allow students to use their personal experience and strengths to build upon their knowledge. 

I am also committed to upward critique in the classroom. For example, because learning human osteology is a time-intensive and iterative process, ongoing student feedback enables me to efficiently craft well-organized lessons that address that class’ particular needs. Mid-semester evaluations in the Physician Assistant anatomy course indicated that students would benefit from more breadth than depth. As a result, I adapted my teaching to cover topics less exhaustively in order to focus on making wider connections among anatomical structures. By inviting constructive comments from students, I empowered myself to improve as an instructor and will continue to do so.

To promote critical thinking skills, which are essential in any profession, I engage students using the Socratic method. Rather than replying with an answer, I ask specific guiding questions to bridge the gap between what the student already knows and what the student needs to learn. For example, when a student asked for assistance identifying a muscle in the forelimb, I responded with a series of pointed questions designed to reinforce and build upon their existing knowledge. In this case I asked the student to identify the compartment, origin, insertion, and innervation of the muscle in question. With this approach, the student correctly identified the muscle as the m. flexor carpi radialis. By the end of the course, this student became confident in identifications and began asking more advanced, second-order questions about function. This process bolsters students’ self-reliance and empowers them to learn independently outside the laboratory. 

My pedagogical strategies are dedicated to teaching in dynamic ways that will remain with the students long after they leave the classroom. My experiences teaching and mentoring have allowed me to share my enthusiasm for anthropology, and especially musculoskeletal anatomy. I am dedicated to continue working with intelligent and driven students, including underrepresented groups, to help shape a more inclusive future for science. 

Teaching Experience

Human Evolutionary Biology: I am currently the instructor of record for this introductory undergraduate course at Lehman, a minority-serving city college. This course includes lecture and lab components.

Human Gross Anatomy Laboratory Instructor: I served as a Lab Instructor in the cadaver lab at Duke University for two courses: Gross Anatomy for medical students, and Gross Anatomy for physician assistant students. I have delivered pre-lab lectures, demonstrated with models and pro-sections, and held office hours in the laboratory. I received positive course evaluations from students and lead instructors.

Student Mentoring: As a postdoctoral fellow, I have mentored museum interns in research design, data collection, and scientific writing. My goal for these students was to develop their skills in research design and literature review as they gained hands-on experience with skeletal materials. Initially, I worked closely with students as they piloted methods and designed projects. Over time, I encouraged students to work more independently but still met regularly to discuss their progress. In addition, I mentored four undergraduate students during graduate school. Typically I mentor undergraduates for their honors research and theses, but I also advise graduate students. One undergraduate (now medical student) co-authored an article for Science describing fossil hominin scapula anatomy (Churchill et al. 2013).


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