In my teaching, like in my research, I am a social scientist at heart. However, also like in my research, I approach instruction in social science disciplines in a particular way. Specifically, I work to create a balance between, on the one end, critical work that theorizes society at the expense of the materiality of the issues at play and, on the other, prescriptive positivist work that often collapses the complexities of society into easily legible, but artificially standardized forms. In teaching about gender identity, for example, I center discussion on research that explores the materiality of transgender life that is so often ignored in work of critical theoretical orientations, but that also identifies, critiques, and offers alternatives to cisnormative and binaristic models of identity.
My philosophy on syllabus development is two-fold. First, I teach from an historical perspective, structuring my courses such that students are led chronologically through changes in society and the parallel development of theoretical ideas devised to explain those changes. Central questions in every course I teach are: What are the current theories? How did we arrive at them? Why do we think this way? And where are we going next? Second, I orient my syllabi toward multi-level and systemic perspectives on social issues that bridge the gap between individual experience and broader social forces. In the context of communication studies, this means focusing syllabi on theories that address the relationship between communication (at multiple levels) and the social system, with attention to mass-mediated, community-level, and interpersonal communications.
My approaches to classroom management and assessment, I feel, follow naturally from this structuring of courses. I aim to engage students in interactive learning environments that synthesize lecture-based instruction and student-oriented group discussion. At the same time, I strive to assess student learning not through exercises of recitation or direct practical application, but based on their ability to marshal course materials as analytic resources in the development and articulation of their own understandings about the nature of the social world.