Teaching Philosophy 

Beyond the objectives and outcomes of any given course, my goals as an educator for my students are threefold.  Students should improve their ability to think critically for themselves; efficiently communicate in a variety of modalities (written, visual, and oral); and gain confidence in their continued ability to learn new skills. These are fundamental competencies that, in addition to a program’s academic content, create marketable and skilled professionals, and hopefully engaged critical citizens.

My role as an educator is that of a facilitator and guide—connecting students to resources, materials, and opportunities, but more importantly to new ideas. As such I have strived to incorporate social justice into my pedagogical practice, from decolonizing film canon in my film history course, to focusing my multimedia storytelling class around social activism with each student engaging around a single issue throughout the semester. I’ve found bell hooks, Paulo Freire, and Bree Picower to be particularly useful in developing an engaged instructional practice that is humanist, pushing against boundaries, and discourse based.[1] I don’t believe in the transactional theory of instruction, and instead, utilize discussion and hands-on instruction.

To this end, I have developed a pedagogical approach to my class that focuses on combining scholarly and professional skills, analytic and creative projects, and cultural and industry studies. I strive toward student-centered learning that incorporates student interests and critical media theory.[2] Additionally, I have embraced the digital humanities through my work as Managing Editor at In Media Res as both a research methodology and pedagogical approach. Students must incorporate critical thinking and technological skills to create digital artifacts (virtual presentations, movies, blogs, video games) as key educational components in my courses. Finally, I rely on a combination of mini-lectures, screenings, discussion, and group activities for in-class (or online) content delivery that has been proven effective for deep learning.

There are three main elements to my philosophy of teaching. The first is to provide multiple approaches to new concepts, as students learn differently.[3] By centering multi-modality, I also incorporate accessibility seamlessly into the course’s universal design.[4] Education is not one size fits all, which means that alongside traditional lectures, discussions, and readings, I provide students with films and hands-on activities like simulations and case studies. Second, I believe in the Socratic method of education, which provides guiding questions to students, so that students learn not only content but, also problem-solving. Often I break students out into groups to work collaboratively and socially to solve problems. Finally, I believe that learning should be fun. If I am not enthusiastic about the topic, then why would my students be interested? To that end, I believe in using educational games and gamification to engage students in competitive and collaborative learning, especially regarding review sessions and “sticky” points.[5]

We learn more content, and more deeply when we are actively engaged in course concepts and activities. It is my job to provide an educational environment to which my students can relate. To do this, I often bring in popular culture as examples, or active elements in course assignments such as debates, pair-and-share, and group projects. Since I generally do not share the same taste as my students, I start each semester with a survey on television, music, movies, and social media which helps me find trends to utilize for in-class content. By starting with a media text that students are already interested in, it is that much easier to garner student rapport, engagement, and investment.

My course design always provides scaffolding for deeper goals like communication and critical thinking skills.[6] Students must build up to broader goals, and so I believe in utilizing smaller stepping-stones that lead up to more substantial high-stakes assessments. Additionally, I believe in learning from our mistakes. Therefore, I include a revision policy, which allows students to revise and resubmit any written assignment that they feel they can improve. Revision enables students who are committed to the learning process to have immediate results and reinforcement, instead of only abstractly carrying feedback forward for potential future use, which, if students are too discouraged, may never come. In the end, my goal is to provide a teaching style and method that is learner-focused, interactive, and hands-on.


[1] Hooks, B. (1994). Teaching to Transgress. New York, NY: Routledge.
Freire, P. (2018). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Academic.
Picower, B. (2012). Practice what you teach: Social justice education in the classroom and the streets. New York, NY: Routledge.

[2] Krahenbuhl, K. S. (2016). Student-centered Education and Constructivism: Challenges, Concerns, and Clarity for Teachers. Clearing House89(3), 97–105. 

[3] Milyakina, A. (2018). Rethinking literary education in the digital age. Sign Systems Studies46 (4), 569–589.

[4] Griful-Freixenet, J., Struyven, K., Verstichele, M., & Andries, C. (2017). Higher education students with disabilities speaking out: perceived barriers and opportunities of the Universal Design for Learning framework. Disability & Society32 (10), 1627-1649.

[5] Hartt, M., Hosseini, H., & Mostafapour, M. (2020). Game On: Exploring the Effectiveness of Game-based Learning. Planning Practice & Research35(5), 589–604. 

[6] Devereux, L., & Wilson, K. (2008). Scaffolding literacies across the Bachelor of Education program: an argument for a course-wide approach. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education36(2), 121–134