Each person has experienced unique life circumstances that have shaped their perception of our world. Growing up in rural Idaho, my experiences exposed me to public land, sustainable harvest, and outdoor recreation. As a conservation biologist with expertise on the recovery and management of endangered species in the ocean, my students will be exposed to theories and concepts that pertain to both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. This exposure will prepare my students to tackle the multifaceted sociological and ecological problems of the coming decades.
While a Teaching Assistant for the Duke University Marine Laboratory, my students learned about the biology of marine mammals and marine protected areas (MPA).
Biology of Marine Mammals - BIOL 376A
Professor: Dr. Andrew Read
Semester: Fall 2022
The semester-long hybrid course was taught in-person to 30 students and virtually to eight students. This class was primarily lecture-based with large summative assessments (two exams, two group class presentations, and an individual final project). I taught five 75-min lectures over the semester. I covered the following topics: Communication, Cetacean Foraging Ecology, Passive Acoustic Monitoring, Aboriginal Harvest, and Right Whale Ecology and Conservation Issues. I was also responsible for all grading and helped to create the summative assessments.
Biology of Marine Mammals - BIOL 376A
Professor: Dr. Andrew Read
Semester: Fall 2019
The semester-long course was taught in-person to 25 students and was primarily lecture-based with large summative assessments (mid-term and final project).
Marine Protected Areas - ENVIRON 504
Professor Dr. David Gill
Semester: Spring 2020
This course was taught remotely to 10 students on a ‘block’ schedule (3 hrs M-F for 3 weeks) and was comprised of lecture, discussion, in-class activities, and group projects. During this course, my students learned about the Bering Sea critical habitat from a 1-hr guest lecture that I taught as well as concepts in marine spatial planning, ocean governance, and dynamic management strategies through in-class activities and group projects.
Based on my education, I am currently interested in teaching:
Marine Mammal Biology and Ecology
Stable Isotope Ecology
Bioacoustics in the Marine Environment
My teaching approach can be summarized as follows:
1. My students will strive for progress, not perfection.
2. Learning is a joint production of knowledge among the
students and teacher.
3. Relevant teachings increase retention and engagement, and
they also prepare students for the complex challenges of our
Progress, not perfection
My students will learn and improve their skills throughout a course by completing formative assessments in the form of small assignments and receiving detailed feedback to use in future assignments. Students in the Biology of Marine Mammals and Marine Protected Areas course received detailed feedback on all assignments.
In Biology of Marine Mammals 2022, I provided the opportunity for students to resubmit a quarterly exam for half-points back, because the exam format differed from the prior exam. Six students took advantage of this opportunity and improved by a letter grade. I also adjusted the course format to include an initial small-group presentation within the first six-weeks of the course with pass/fail credit so that students could practice presenting and being given feedback before their end-of-semester group presentations. Finally, I broke-up my five 75-minute lectures by asking the class questions approximately every 10 minutes to gauge how well the students were engaging with the material. I also stopped between each lecture sub-section (usually every 20 minutes) to see if there were any questions before moving on (students were also encouraged to raise their hand and ask questions at any point throughout the lecture).
In my own classroom, students will experience an ‘interactive lecture’ style, meaning that small breaks will be taken during lecture to check-in with students to assess how well they’re grasping the material. As part of this, students will complete short activities as formative assessments, such as answering a poll, completing a one-minute paper, drawing a mind-map, or writing down their muddiest point from the week. Students will also submit weekly Learning Outcomes worksheets to gauge how well students are grasping the materials and meeting the Learning Objectives of the course. For all exams and quizzes, students will have the ability to make corrections on missed questions for up to ½ points back. Furthermore, students will take the same exam the first and final week of the course to assess what they learned (these exams will also provide a metric to improve my teaching!).
I have drafted a mock syllabus that includes examples of interactive teaching.
Learning = joint production of knowledge
In the Marine Protected Areas course, the students learned in a classroom environment with norms of authenticity and transparency. The students received daily emails reminding them of upcoming assignments and reminding them that they could contact the professor or TA if they were struggling to feel engaged in the newly remote format (spring 2020).
In the Biology of Marine Mammals 2022 course, during my five 75-minute lectures, I often asked the class for feedback when introducing a new term or concept (i.e., does anyone know the definition of...?); if a student raised their hand, I let them teach the concept to the class and restated the answer in my own words before moving on. In addition, I included an optional survey before the semester started for students to share pronouns and provide any information they'd like me to know about them in order to have a successful semester. Furthermore, I adjusted my lectures to include ten extra minutes for questions at the end of class, because students often engaged in classroom-wide discussion of the topics.
In my own classroom, the students will help create the class norms. These will range in topic from attendance policies to if/how long we provide extensions on assignments. There will also be an emphasis on peer feedback and grading as peer learning improves empathy, self-directed learning, and problem-solving skills. Furthermore, students will co-write the exams by each submitting two potential questions for each exam as part of an in-class exercise; 20% of their exam questions will come from this list.
I have drafted a mock syllabus that includes classroom norms and activities, a worksheet for think-pair-share learning, and a reference sheet of how students would like to be referred to in the classroom.
I believe that retention and engagement improve when students learn materials that are relevant to them. Students in the Marine Protected Areas course were not engaging in discussion at the level anticipated, which was understandable given the newly remote format. Given this feedback, students were given the option to choose papers that they found most interesting or relevant to them from a pre-determined list for the second half of the course. The ability to choose which papers to read markedly increased the quality of discussion compared with the traditional assigned readings approach.
During the Biology of Marine Mammals 2019 course, the final assignment was restructured from a traditional individual take-home assignment to small-group policy briefs on a current conservation case study, the critically endangered southern resident killer whale. As part of this project, students experienced remote guest lectures with marine mammal experts across time-zones. While that seems trivial now in the era of remote teaching given COVID, it was a novel feat at our remote field station in fall 2019. Students expressed their gratitude to be able to work on a ‘real-world’ case study and learn what ‘actual scientists do’.
During the Biology of Marine Mammals 2022 course, I included figures and tables from recent scientific research in my lectures when explaining topics, to expose students to data visualization and interpretation. I also let students choose which scientific paper to present to the class from a predetermined list of topical research to improve interest in the topics. Further, I modified the final group presentation to expand the range of appropriate topics to include environmental justice given class interest throughout the semester.
In my own classroom, students will learn from seminal and contemporary case studies from the primary literature. Reading and synthesizing primary literature will encourage students to engage in ongoing topics and research, which in turn, will prepare them to tackle the many complex sociological and ecological problems of our present and future.
For each course and semester, the case studies will primarily be determined by the students who enroll in the course. For example, more biology case studies will be taught if the majority of students are biology majors. With that being said, students will be exposed to case studies from a variety of scientific disciplines every semester regardless of the course in order to encourage collaborative interdisciplinary discussion. This exposure will equip students to find solutions on collaborative teams in their future careers.
For a final summative assessment, the students will work in groups on an approved topic of their choosing. They will have flexibility on the final format. For example, students can submit a website, blogpost, video, or persuasive argument. This activity will foster creativity and team-work, with end-products that can be put on a resume.
I have drafted a mock syllabus that includes a flexible final.
My students will experience a decolonized curriculum where the values and beliefs of scientists who are canon within a given field will be discussed in an open and transparent framework. Students will also learn about diverse voices in their field of study, and students will be encouraged to consider the perspectives with which we learn and study. My inclusion of environmental justice topics and diverse voices in Biology of Marine Mammals 2022 motivated students to want to present on environmental justice topics for their final presentation; I happily expanded the assignment to accomodate their interests.
My students will experience interactive teachings with specific learning objectives as a result of my enrollment in the Certificate in College Teaching program at Duke University. Students will also experience teachings with contemporary science communication techniques and environmental policy implications resulting from my completion of the Duke Environmental Impact Fellowship program.
My students will experience active listening as well as guidance with respect to problem-solving, field work, and assignments due to my experience mentoring undergraduate students with majors ranging from computer science to ecology at Duke University. These undergraduates learned how to conceptualize a question, analyze a multivariate dataset, and present their results to a scientific audience.
My students will also receive assistance with scientific writing and working in teams due to my experience mentoring employees at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center Marine Mammal Laboratory (AFSC-MML). My experience collaborating on grant and report writing will further benefit my students during writing-intensive courses. In addition, my students will learn how to collaborate on multifaceted group projects, delineate roles, and produce products due to my experience mentoring at AFSC-MML and Duke and collaborating with governmental and academic actors.