Current Teaching Information

MA124: Calculus II

Please see the My Math Lab course site for all course information. Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 10:45-12:15

University Level Teaching/Mentorship

Primary Instructor

Mentor

Teaching Assistant

Additional Teaching Experience

High School Level

Summer Internship

Education Coursework and Training

About Me

My teaching philosophy can best be understood by the fact that I think of myself as a "facilator of student learning" as opposed to a "teacher". As such, my goal is to help my students to engage with the course material in a way that helps them to draw meaningful and lasting connections with their prior knowledge. My teaching philosophy has been strongly influenced by my experience as a science instructor working with the Harkness Method at Phillips Exeter Academy and using the inquiry method of teaching as a science instructor at Milton Academy. Both of these methods have their roots in the constructivist school of education. My views on education were also developed by the two-week intensive evidence-based Early Educators Summer Institute hosted by the Klingenstein Institute.

I am particularly interested in increasing the number of women and people from other under-represented groups would pursue carreers in STEM fields.

Although my teaching practice constantly evolves, here are some specifics of how I am currently thinking about the different aspects of my teaching.

Classroom Instruction

My goal ultimate classroom goal is to get the students to interact with the material as much and as soon as possible. I find that the more I can get students to actively engage in the material, the more insightful their questions and comments are, and the more prepared they are to do the homework for the week. In such a student-centered environment, I believe that my role includes:

Projects

I have found group projects to be a particularly useful tool for helping students to put the course material into context with their prior knowledge; projects also help students to make broad connections between various course concepts.

When appropriate, I add a programming component to the projects. I find this valuable for two reasons. Firstly, computer programming is a skill which is incredibly marketable in this economy. Secondly, I find that the process of programming mathematical idea helps the students to understand the material in a completementary way to more traditional methods (such as problem sets).

Here are two projects I assigned in an abstract Honors Linear Algebra class:

(1) Lights Out, which I used to help students understand vector spaces, fields, and linear transformations
(2) Google Page Rank, which I used to help understand eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and properties of stocastic matrices

The Theorems mentioned in the projects come from the textbook Linear Algebra by S.H. Friedberg, A.J. Insel, and L.E. Spence.

Formative Feedback

By the time most students have reached university, they have already decided if they are "good" at math, or "bad" at math, a feeling which is often compounded by a belief that success in math is due, primarily, to innate math ability. The fact that so many people believe in the myth of "math people" is particularly problematic in light of studies which have shown that students who believe that success is due to innate ability (as opposed to hard work) are less resilient in the face of challenge. I find that by emphasizing the formative (as opposed to summative) role of feedback, and by explicitly telling students what specific steps they can take to improve their work, I help students to move from the prevailing cultural belief that intelligence is a fixed quantity, to a belief in their own ability to succeed through hard work and effort.