Teaching

College Teaching Experience

  • Instructor:
    • Social Inequality (mid-level, mid-sized)
  • Teaching Assistant:
    • Theory & Society (upper-level, mid-sized)
    • Technology & Organizational Environments (upper-level, mid-sized)
  • Guest Lecturer:
    • Sociology & Mental Health
    • Social Inequality: Mental Health & Social Inequality
    • Social Networks & Health Scholars Training Program (with Duke Network Analysis Center)
    • Sociological Inquiry Discussion (led introductory course section)
    • Entrepreneurship - co-developer and leader for a Data Expedition class (with the Information Initiative at Duke)
  • Graduate Advisor:
    • University Scholars Education Inequality Service-learning House Course


Teaching Philosophy

As a social networks scholar, I recognize the importance of connections in the classroom, especially students’ connections to course material and to each other. As an instructor, I’ve worked to build connections by designing active, collaborative classes where students use technology to engage with course material in ways that connect to lived experience and social justice. Below I detail how I implemented these teaching principles in one course I've taught, Social Inequality.

Beyond designing and teaching a full course, I’ve taken next steps to develop as an instructor supporting active learning, including as a:

  • Duke Certificate of College Teaching participant -- including taking courses in higher education pedagogy and completing teaching co-observations.
  • Preparing Future Faculty Fellow -- exploring teaching-oriented institutions (shadowing professors, attending faculty meetings, discussing teaching with students).
  •  Lecturer, lab leader, and lab assistant at the Duke Network Analysis Center's Social Networks and Health Scholars Training Program for graduate students and young faculty.
  •  University Scholars Program mentor -- routine meetings with undergraduate women scientists to discuss academic interests, challenges, and trajectories, including helping students investigate new courses of study and apply to graduate school.
  • Graduate advisor to the University Scholars/Bull City Scholars Education Inequality project -- helped undergraduates lead a class on education inequality, interrogating the politics and pitfalls of traditional ‘service’ in university-community partnerships, while implementing a tutoring program with middle school students.
  • Attendee at teaching workshops -- hosted by the American Sociological Association annual meeting, Duke Teaching Equity Fellows, Thompson Writing Center, Duke Sociology, and Duke Graduate School.
  I’ve also facilitated systems for sharing teaching resources and instructional support among fellow graduate student instructors. I've planned for teaching additional sociology courses, including creating a team-based learning syllabus for an introductory sociology course and a networks research methods course for undergraduates getting a business certificate. Through these and ongoing experiences, I hope to support students in developing a lens they can carry into their future endeavors to investigate social processes as compassionate yet critical observers who can connect theory and science to lived experience and issues of social justice.

Example Course:

Designing and teaching the Social Inequality course in particular let me build on my pre-PhD professional life as a high school teacher to create and implement a course centered on active learning through collaboration, meaningful use of technology, and critically examining challenging social themes.

  In this course, students engaged with material and classmates so that each student would think, read, write, and speak in every class. Through a variety of activities, discussions, and writing prompts supported by short lectures, students examined classic and contemporary sociological works and data to apply a sociological lens to issues of inequality. For example, students analyzed how their social networks are shaped by race and gender, and they used online resources like Spent, Harvard Implicit Association Test, and the New York Times middle class calculator to dive deeper into investigating inequality. Students demonstrated their learning in various ways throughout the course, providing support for diverse learning styles, allowing frequent on-going assessment of learning, and scaffolding toward larger summative assessments. For example, students led group discussions with a jigsaw-style activity on trends in wealth, and completed 1-slide mini presentations using data about the gender wage gap. Activities were followed by reflective writing and class discussion connecting to readings and broader theory, so that sociological depth was not sacrificed in favor of collaboration. Students demonstrated their skills and knowledge in a final presentation where small groups investigated an aspect of inequality not covered in class, connecting their topic to sociological theory, data, journal articles, and wider policy implications. These online resources and collaborative activities helped students develop 21st century career skills so that the course didn’t function solely to provide information, but rather to guide students toward interacting with information, from finding reliable sources, interpreting data, and communicating findings, to questioning conclusions, synthesizing material, and discussing implications. This active and collaborative classroom environment supported student learning, with student surveys reflecting strong agreement with high course quality, learning, and instruction.

  The collaborative nature of the class meant students worked with others throughout the semester to synthesize ideas and resources into cohesive products, but discussing class, race, and gender in a diverse classroom was not automatically easy. As students shared their ideas, experiences, and efforts every day, the class developed space for dialogue that challenged or questioned ideas at hand while respecting all voices. For example, students presented their own updated versions of the invisible privileges associated with race from their observations of colorblind racism on Duke’s campus and explored disadvantages faced by combined axes of identity using a dice activity to randomly select identities to consider intersectionally in small groups. Course surveys indicate students recognized this positive class dynamic and felt respected.

  Through teaching the Social Inequality course and my work as a teaching assistant and mentor, I’ve identified areas where I can grow as an instructor and mentor. These include common struggles like making sure every student completes reading assignments and that group work demands intellectual depth, as well as specific areas of personal growth, such as flexibly allowing class discussions to develop organically, while still reaching content objectives. Course surveys echo one of the more challenging issues I faced teaching a mid-level sociology course: trying to provide differentiated content to ensure that every student, regardless of academic background, is challenged by course material. Most students in the class were taking their first sociology class, but I worried that material that challenged these students was too easy for the handful of advanced sociology or psychology majors in the class. In the future, I hope to address this challenge by providing extensions to readings and activities that will challenge advanced students while still supporting those new to the subject.

 

Courses I am Able to Teach