Teaching

I am an experienced, award-winning teacher.

In 2014, my last year of graduate school at UC Davis, I was presented with two very competitive awards for excellence in teaching. First, I was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award by the Office of Graduate Studies and Grad Council. This was a university-wide award that was only presented to ten graduate students out of the hundreds teaching at UC Davis. I felt especially honored to know that several letters of support from my former students played an integral role in convincing the judges that I am an excellent teacher. Second, I was one of two students in the Philosophy Department to receive the department’s Michael V. Wedin Teaching Award. The winner of this award is determined both by the faculty’s observations of the candidate’s teaching, and by the candidate’s performance on student evaluations. 

You can take a look at my evaluations here.

Receiving the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award
A totally candid action shot of me teaching

I have been teaching philosophy for over 10 years now. I served as a teaching assistant or as an instructor almost every semester/quarter that I was in graduate school. Since finishing my dissertation, I have been teaching full time (4/4) at Grand Valley State University and (5/5) at Eastern Michigan University. 

As the instructor of record, I have taught the following courses:

  • • Introduction to Philosophy
  • • Critical Thinking
  • • Symbolic Logic
  • • Introduction to Ethics
  • • Ethics in the Professional Life
  • • Contemporary Moral Issues

• Bioethics

Additionally, as a teaching assistant I helped teach:

  • • Political Philosophy  
  • • Foundations of American Democracy
  • • Philosophy of Law

• Metaphysics 

When they first arrive to my class, most of my students are not philosophy majors. In fact, most have never taken a philosophy course before. After teaching at Grand Valley State for two years, I calculated that  although I had only taught about 8% of the introductory philosophy courses in those two years, 20% of the declared philosophy majors had taken an introductory course with me

I believe I am so successful at generating interest in philosophy because I am always looking for new ways to engage my students, and to get them to actually do philosophy. I have taken seminars (and even graduate level courses) on pedagogy. While I have never taught a fully online course before, I have integrated many of the tools into my face-to-face courses. You can read more about my use of online teaching tools here.

I have also experimented with different assignments to help my students actually do some philosophy. The most exciting example involves completely revamping my Introduction to Ethics course to prepare my students for an in-class Ethics Bowl style competition. There are more details about that assignment here. In response to an informal survey, 58 out of 60 students recommended that I keep using an Ethics Bowl assignment in my future classes. They said that it was not only fun, but a more effective way to learn the moral theories we read about than merely studying for an exam or writing a paper.