Philosophy of Teaching
My teaching experience involves full-time teaching at four colleges and universities since 1976 and part-time teaching at three others from 1965-1975. I was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor at Elmhurst College in 1984. I came to University of Scranton as Associate professor in 1985 and received tenure in 1988. In 1991 I was selected for a one-year Visiting Professor position at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Teaching style and philosophy
I conscientiously prepare for and almost never miss class. My lecture notes are continually being revised and I have developed test banks containing thousands of questions.
I enjoy interacting with students. My pedagogical strong points are: a deep-seated interest in the subject matter, being well prepared and organized for every class, keeping current, a willingness to try new teaching strategies, emphasizing the relevancy of the subject matter, being on time, being fair, announcing tests well in advance, giving tests that can be completed in the allotted time, and returning tests and papers usually by the next class meeting. I use visuals extensively to illustrate my lectures. My comprehensive course notes and visuals are available online and my articles for Tropical Biology and Biodiversity are available on Electronic Reserves.
I believe in inductive reasoning: the use of specifics to reach general conclusions. Although students need to learn critical thinking skills, a minimal knowledge base is essential to carry out such processes. For example, how can one evaluate a patient's health unless he/she is familiar with normal values for basic parameters, such as blood pressure, red blood cell count, blood cholesterol, HDL, LDL levels, etc.? I help students in my course attain this knowledge base. I also believe that students should be required to take complete ownership of subject matter at some point even though I realize they will forget the details. I set high, but not unrealistic standards in my classes, and try to show how the material is relevant to clinical situations, everyday health, and fitness. I am available and willing to help students succeed.
My stint at the Air Force Academy was pivotal in bringing about subtle changes in my pedagogy. For example, to help students learn what to study, I ask questions to five students over the assigned reading at the beginning of each class period and grade their responses. This policy has several positive spin-offs: it encourages students to keep up, helps me get to know them, gives them examples of future exam questions, and provides an opportunity to improve their grade. Of course, it is my belief that the additional work will also translate into better exam scores and a better understanding of the subject matter.
Cadets at the Air Force Academy are required to attend class and be on time. As a result, I have instituted an attendance policy that rewards students with perfect attendance and penalizes those with substandard records. This policy prods students into developing the work habits and ethic expected in 'real world' jobs.
General Academic Goals:
- Develop the best courses
- Develop multimedia lectures
- Share scientific knowledge with as many people as possible through lectures, photographs, and publications
- Showcase the aesthetic aspects of biology