The Department of Media and Communication has roughly 150 undergraduate majors and minors who specialize in different areas of the major (Print, Video, Corporate, Global Media) four tenure track faculty, one full-time instructor, and one part time staff member. As such every member of the department shares significant responsibility, and not just the responsibility of teaching these students. We are responsible for advising them as they advance through our programs, staying in touch with them while they are abroad, updating our courses and curriculum for them, keeping tabs on them after they graduate and recruiting new students to follow them. Under these conditions, I believe it is my responsibility to be fully committed to making my classes, my advising, and my efforts in curriculum development both challenging and rewarding to students, so that the sacrifices they’ve made to enroll in a university will be worth it.
At the most basic level, my teaching consists of core courses at the introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels of the Department of Media and Communication. I regularly teach CM101: Introduction to Media Studies, CM213: Writing and Communications, and CM325: Media Studies, as well as CM120: Applied Communications (a practicum in which students produce an online magazine). Outside of the day-to-day leading of classes, my role in the department has been to refine and expand opportunities for our students to engage with new media, critical theory, online research writing, and hands-on multimedia production. A glance at my syllabi and assignments—the video essay assignments in CM101 and the collaborative multimedia project in CM213, for example—indicates the degree to which I’ve made new media theory and practice central to my teaching.
Outside of the department, I have contributed to the university’s commitment to global connections and integrative learning through my teaching Global Field Study and University Seminar courses. These experiences have had the added benefit of allowing me to broaden my teaching experience and develop new classroom practices. And with the help of an Instructional Technology Grant, I’m bringing new forms of technology into my classrooms to facilitate new forms of student creativity—a mobile podcasting studio which will allow students to record five-person audio roundtables, or broadcast live with Skype call-in capability. With the support of my department and through my experiences working with Arcadia students, I believe I am a much better teacher now than I was in 2010, when I first arrived in Glenside. I have become more deliberate in my class-planning, more transparent in my evaluation criteria, and more attentive to the ways that my classes can build upon and flow through each other. As my teaching materials show, this has helped me establish a reputation as an instructor who is energetic, organized, supportive and challenging.
|ALL COURSES||FALL 2010||SPRING 2011||FALL 2011||SPRING 2012||FALL 2012||SPRING 2013||FALL 2013||SPRING 2014||FALL 2014||CAREER AVERAGE||ARCADIA AVERAGE||NATIONAL AVERAGE|
|Organization / Planning||4.48||4.47||4.58||4.62||4.80||4.78||4.76||4.59||4.65||4.64||4.38||4.31|
|Faculty/ Student Interaction||4.46||4.54||4.57||4.57||4.75||4.68||4.79||4.74||4.67||4.64||4.49||4.37|
|Assignments, Exams, Grading||4.22||4.20||4.32||4.35||4.62||4.55||4.56||4.34||4.31||4.39||4.23||4.17|
While multiple-choice student evaluation surveys are an imperfect instrument, the data collected from them does suggest that my efforts have registered with students. Even as my responsibilities in scholarship and service increased, my ratings in key evaluation areas have increased to levels well beyond national and campus averages. I am particularly proud that while students increasingly identified my course as “challenging,” this did not result in any significant reduction in reported clarity of communication or willingness to listen to diverse viewpoints. Teaching is a recursive process and I am committed to improving students’ classroom experience without sacrificing intellectual rigor. This commitment is reflected in the selected student comments I have included in this dossier. I take a great amount of pride in my work as a teacher, and gain great satisfaction when students describe my class as “intellectually stimulating,” “relevant,” and “engaging.”
Years ago, a faculty mentor impressed upon me the notion that universities should not be teacher-centered, nor student-centered, nor content-centered, but rather, learning-centered. In my teaching, I strive, by whatever means available to me, to foster spaces wherein the shared process of learning is the first priority. I want to challenge my students not just to master their textbook but to understand its underlying principles and recognize how those principles play out in their everyday life. I work to encourage students to understand the power and potential of new technologies, not only to finish their papers or do more research, but also to pursue their professional goals. Finally, I model the practice of revision that I teach in my writing courses, constantly seeking student input, and using their feedback to adjust and update my assignments, reading assignments, and lectures. Developing as an instructor has been a major focus of mine since arriving at Arcadia, and though I remain a work-in-progress, my interactions with students as well as the feedback evidenced through evaluations has indicated I am moving in the right direction.
Arcadia rightly touts its commitment to “personal attention” as a key part of the university’s mission. This is used as a “selling point” for students, but over the course of my time here I’ve also come to understand it as a job benefit. Prior to my hire here, my experiences had always been with large, research-oriented institutions. While I had good relationships with my professors as an undergraduate, I never felt as if any of them knew me in any significant sense. When I began working at Arcadia, I realized almost immediately how different a model of education was in operation here. The personal rapport I build with students, I found, was as valuable outside the classroom as it was inside. Because I teach courses at every level of my department’s curriculum, I’m able to work with students throughout their academic career, and get to build real relationships with them that extend beyond the boundaries of the campus and the semester.
After and because I established myself with students as trustworthy, invested in their development, and willing to work with them to pursue their personal and professional goals, I am more able to nudge students toward starting their own radio show, writing for Loco Mag, or filming their own web series. I now have students that schedule meetings with me to discuss revising their papers–not for “extra credit,” but for publication. Students send me video projects they’ve made to ask if I have suggestions for festivals that they might enter. Because I have their trust, I can challenge students to begin their professional development from day one. An example: In 2013, Larry Platt and Tim Baldwin, former editor and creative director of Philadelphia Magazine and Philadelphia Daily News came to campus to give a workshop. When I saw a group of my CM120 students there, I told them that they were “not allowed” to leave until they introduced themselves to Platt and Baldwin, mentioned a specific piece of work that they had done, and asked for advice on how to make it better. Though they were bashful at first, I stood in the back of the room and watched the entire editorial board of Loco Mag walk up, one by one, and interact with influential professionals in Philadelphia journalism and publishing. These are the sorts of practices that will serve our students well in the future.
Additionally, it is important to note that these relationships don’t end when the semester does. For example, during the welcome session for our new majors in Fall 2015, I put out a call on social media asking our recent alumni for any advice they’d offer our incoming class of 2019. Within the hour I had twenty different alums respond with words of wisdom, best wishes, practical advice, and offers of support. Building inter-generational mentorship relationships among students and alumni is one of my goals for the next stage of my career.
My arrival at Arcadia coincided with the establishment of Media and Communication as an independent department. As a result, I’ve had the opportunity to revise and develop curriculum from a very early stage in my career here. One of my first major contributions to the department’s curriculum was a revision of the department’s writing course—CM213—and an ensuing petition to acquire a RW designation for the course. The following summer I spearheaded a departmental research effort that culminated in a report, “Recommendations for University Support of Student Media,” that was circulated among the Dean of Student Affairs, Provost, Chief Marketing Officer and University President in Fall 2011. Within the department, the process resulted in the creation of a space for Loco Mag to develop, and advising those students continues to be one of my proudest achievements as a professor at Arcadia. More recently, I have taken an active role in curricular assessment and departmental review processes, and anticipating ways that the department can adapt to a changing media landscape, opening spaces for podcasting, video essays, and multimedia publishing.