An Important Element In My Academic Career Education Essay

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Teaching is not something I have always wanted to do. As an introverted person, I was terrified at the thought of spending my career in front of an audience. In fact, when I received my first teaching assignment at the University of Colorado at Boulder I grew nervous and anxious just reading the letter and envisioning what would be required of me. But once I began teaching classes I found it ignited something within me I had not encountered before. Being able to witness students as they struggle with material and meet with failure and success is an experience that is dynamic and comparable to no other experiences I have had. While instructors face potential obstacles every day in the classroom, I have gained rewards that far outweigh my own roadblocks. Teaching, rather than something to be dreaded, has become something I look forward to each day and is now an important element in my academic career.

My background and experiences inform four specific objectives that frame my teaching philosophy. First, I assist students in developing their sociological imaginations in ways concretely tied to their lives outside the classroom. Second, I encourage students to be active in the educational process by promoting and rewarding critical thinking. Third, I foster intellectual development through the incorporation of a variety of creative teaching strategies and the creation of a learning community. Finally, I provide a classroom experience that encourages students to develop civic maturity.

Fostering a Sociological Imagination

My primary objective in teaching is to provide students with the theoretical and conceptual tools that will allow them to examine virtually any topic from a sociological perspective. It is my hope that students will gain a fundamental sense of what the discipline of sociology is and what sociologists do, as well as develop an understanding that the classroom is not divorced from reality. I feel that many students approach learning in a way that creates a chasm between what they are learning in the classroom and what they experience in their lives. To address this issue, I utilize assignments such as "In The News" (see Appendix B) in which students practice the art of sociological analysis using contemporary, real world events. By bridging this chasm I hope students will enjoy learning more and therefore take more away from their classroom experiences.

Promoting Critical Thinking

I am highly critical of the "sponge" method of learning in college classrooms. Rather than requiring the rote memorization of concepts, I encourage students to take an active role in their education. I rarely use textbooks in my classes and instead rely upon primary sources for reading materials. Participation is a required component in almost every class I teach (see Appendix B), and I encourage students to ask questions, offer comments, and raise concerns throughout the entire class period rather than wait until the conclusion of our time. I tailor assignments to develop students' analytical abilities, asking them to compare and contrast readings or evaluate an author's claims. I find that students are better social scientists as a result, skilled at empirically assessing information and evaluating the veracity of arguments.

Cultivating a Learning Community

As students represent a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives, I make an effort to positively showcase these differences in a way that encourages all students to learn. To achieve this I emphasize collaborative learning and student-to-student interactions in the classroom. Working collaboratively, students reinforce their own learning and strengthen their ability to develop arguments and articulate those ideas clearly to others. I typically begin my classes with a reflection question drawn from students' reading. Often this starts as an individual free write, followed by small group sharing, and concluding with a large class discussion. I take notes during these discussions so that, as a class, we can refer back to these ideas and incorporate them into future lessons. In this way, students are not only learners but teachers as well. This is an important facet of creating a classroom community, in which there is not one teacher but many.

Developing Civic Maturity

While recognizing the complexity of social issues and injustices, I believe that it is possible to positively change our world. If college students are to be agents of positive change, they need not only to possess knowledge and intellectual capabilities but also to see themselves as members of a community. Through readings, lectures, and assignments I strive to promote the development of a civic identity, one that is committed to conscious and responsible participation in the community. I challenge students to think about how they as individuals and as members of groups participate in their local and global communities and to reflect upon the consequences, intended or otherwise, of this participation.

TEACHING BIOGRAPHY______________________________________________________

During my time at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I have been fortunate to have a wide variety of teaching experiences (see Appendix A). Teaching first as an assistant then as an instructor has been an essential part of my academic career throughout graduate school. These experiences taught me about the importance of personal connections with students as integral for material comprehension and retention, as well as encouraged me to continually experiment with a wide variety of teaching techniques and strategies.

In the summer of 2003, after being accepted to the University of Colorado doctoral program, my appointment was to assist with a one hundred student Social Statistics class. Coming from a small university, this was my first experience with a large lecture class and recitation sections. I attended all classes and took detailed notes which helped me answer student questions and conduct exam reviews. I also graded exams and homework assignments and gave guest lectures during the semester. In spring 2005 I was appointed as a teaching assistant for Deviance in U.S. Society. With five hundred students in the course, I was one of five teaching assistants and ten undergraduate assistants. We met weekly with the professor to discuss teaching issues and concerns, develop exam questions, and brainstorm our weekly lesson plans.

At the end of my second year of graduate school, I was appointed as an instructor for Continuing Education. Since that time I have been an instructor for courses in the Department of Sociology such as Social Problems, Introduction to Sociology, Deviance in U.S. Society, and Juvenile Delinquency. These varied from small, seminar-style courses to large lecture courses which I taught with a graduate teaching assistant. As the instructor, I had sole responsibility for developing course syllabi, selecting course texts, teaching course material, and evaluating the students. Though each course required different strategies and skills, I made a conscious effort to engage in creative teaching methods, taking students on field trips, scheduling guest panels on special interest topics, and moderating online discussion forums, among other activities. Because I have had such a wide variety of experiences, I am adept at developing and refining courses, as well as managing the time involved in academic teaching.

ACADEMIC PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT__________________________________

The University of Colorado hosts an award-winning and highly respected Graduate Teacher Program. This is affiliated with the Graduate School and ensures that workshops and pedagogical training are afforded to all graduate students in every department across campus. To recognize and reward graduate teachers who devote time to improving their teaching, the Graduate Teacher Program offers a Graduate Teacher Certificate. Through participation in teaching enhancement activities, I was able to achieve certification, which recognizes my investment in my pedagogical development.

The Graduate Teacher Program also offers paid positions for Lead Graduate Teachers. This entails selecting one graduate student representative to develop and maintain a consistent, quality degree of instruction for the remaining graduate students within the department and to act in a liaison capacity. My department selected me to be the Lead Graduate Teacher for the 2007-2008 academic year. I attended a full week of training that addressed academic management, academic leadership, general pedagogy, interdisciplinary team work, discipline-specific pedagogy, and teacher-centered methods of consultation. In my professional capacity as Lead Graduate Teacher, I presented two workshops. One was specific to Sociology and entitled "Fostering a Sociological Imagination." The second workshop was targeted towards the social sciences and entitled "Pop Culture and Social Science: A New Twist on an Old Problem." I was also responsible for leading orientation for the incoming cohort of Sociology graduate students. In this capacity I constructed a resource guide addressing a variety of teaching issues such as balancing teaching and coursework; the use of office hours; the first day of class; and effective lesson planning. I also organized panels on topics such as culture and control in the classroom; problem situations in the classroom; and dealing with conflict.

Finally, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a nationwide program, Preparing Future Faculty (PFF), funded in part by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The goal of this program is to improve the preparation of graduate students for roles in postsecondary institutions through mentorships with faculty, collaborative projects, and the annual PFF Forum. Through this program, I was given an opportunity to explore teaching at other institutions and to think about and refine my own teaching philosophy and goals as a teacher. Through the PFF program, I have received a Professional Development Certificate.

EVALUATION AND PLANS FOR IMPROVEMENT_______________________________

Students' responses to my teaching generally suggest that I successfully engage students in academic thought and discussion (see Appendix C). The comments I regularly receive from students include the comfortable atmosphere of my classrooms, the inclusion of a variety of teaching strategies, and the clarity with which I present course material. I have also been recognized at the university and national levels for my commitment to teaching, receiving the Alpha Kappa Delta Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Service Award in 2005, the University of Colorado at Boulder Best Should Teach Silver Flame Award in 2007, and the University of Colorado at Boulder Graduate Part Time Instructor of the Year Award in 2008.

I continually try to incorporate more technology into my courses. The University of Colorado at Boulder offers a supplementary technological website to instructors, and students have indicated how helpful this is in their learning. For that reason, I have slowly incorporated more web-based instruction into my classes. This is significant because it allows students to engage with course material in a variety of ways and to experiment with learning through alternative means. In particular, many students take advantage of the online discussion questions I post throughout the semester. I stress active participation in all of my classes and online discussions offer a forum for students who have difficulty speaking up in class to comfortably meet this requirement. I also find that many students wish to share video clips they have discovered and which they feel relate to our subject matter. I try as much as possible to provide opportunities to share these through our website or during class. In my experience, these cases stimulate the most animated discussions and deepest insights, so I continually look for ways to incorporate such uses of technology in the classroom. I was recently introduced to Citizendium, a web based platform for key terms pertaining to a number of disciplines. Similar in form to Wikipedia but peer reviewed, Citizendium offers students the opportunity to publish and contribute to their respective field. This is an excellent opportunity to introduce students to our discipline and profession in a user friendly format.

The next goal for my course development is to incorporate a service project which requires students to become personally involved with an organization of their choosing. I was fortunate enough as an undergraduate to enroll in a course with a service component which I fulfilled by volunteering in an after-school tutoring program. This activity cemented my in class learning while providing a beneficial service to the community. I believe that such projects are tremendously important in demonstrating to students the real world application of class material while encouraging civic engagement.

I envision service projects to be collaborative efforts between myself, students, and organizational liaisons, with students volunteering approximately fifteen hours of their time per semester. Students would be required to journal about their activities, reflecting on these experiences and incorporating course content. Additionally, class time would be allotted to discuss these experiences in a group setting. At the end of the semester, students would be required to turn in their semester journal as well as reports summarizing their experiences and learning.

APPENDIX A: TEACHING EXPERIENCE________________________________________

Term Position Course Class Size

Spring 2010 Instructor Deviance in U.S. Society 65

Summer 2009 Instructor Social Movements 15

Spring 2009 Instructor Social Problems 100

Fall 2008 Instructor Social Problems 65

Spring 2008 Instructor Social Problems 65

Fall 2007 Instructor Social Problems 65

Summer 2007 Instructor Juvenile Delinquency 35

Spring 2007 Instructor Social Problems 65

Fall 2006 Instructor Social Problems 65

Summer 2006 Instructor Deviance in U.S. Society 35

Summer 2005 Instructor Introduction to Sociology 15

Spring 2005 Teaching Assistant Deviance in U.S. Society 100

Fall 2004 Teaching Assistant Social Statistics 100

Spring 2004 Teaching Assistant Social Statistics 100

Fall 2003 Teaching Assistant Social Statistics 100

APPENDIX B: COURSE MATERIALS___________________________________________

1. Syllabus

SOCY 2031: 002 Social Problems

Fall 2008

MWF, 10:00-10:50AM

Instructor: Allison Hicks

Office: Ketchum 35

Email: Allison.Hicks@colorado.edu

Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays 8:00-9:00AM

Phone: 303-817-0040

Email is the best way to contact me.

The instructor reserves the right to modify this syllabus as necessary. Any changes will be communicated to students in a timely manner.

Textbooks:

Hallinan, Joseph. Going Up the River. New York: Random House.

2001. Ehrenreich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. New York: Metropolitan.

There will also be a number of short readings during the semester, marked in the syllabus as 'e-reserves.' You can access these readings through CULearn.

Course Description and Learning Objectives:

Sociology is the study of society and human interaction. We all have considerable experience living in society and interacting with other people. Sociology, however, is an unfamiliar way of looking at the familiar. The primary objective of this course is to help you develop your sociological imagination - that is, to provide you with the conceptual and theoretical tools that will allow you to examine virtually any subject from a sociological perspective. In this course we will be devoted to examining the relationship between individuals, communities, and social problems within a sociological framework.

My hope is that you will gain a fundamental sense of what the discipline of sociology is and how it approaches contemporary issues in U.S. society. In addition, I hope that you will come away from the course with an understanding that the classroom is not divorced from reality, and the ability to see the relevance of sociological inquiry to your own life.

Grading and Evaluation:

Your final course grade will be calculated as follows:

Assignment Date Due Percentage of Final Grade

Attendance In Class 03%

Participation In Class/Online 15%

Reading Assignments (3) See Schedule 15%

In the News (3) See Schedule 18%

Group Project See Schedule 12%

Exam 1 Monday, October 13th 10%

Exam 2 Friday, November 7th 12%

Exam 3 Monday, December 15th 15%

(10:30AM-1:00PM)

NO EXTRA CREDIT WILL BE OFFERED IN THIS COURSE

Grades will be assigned based on the following (approximate) ranges:

A: 100- 90% B: 89-80% C: 79-70% D: 69-60% F: 59% or below

NOTE: Do NOT email me for your course grade. If you would like to discuss your performance in the course please make an appointment to come and talk with me.

Attendance:

Several times during the semester I will take attendance by role call. This will take place at the very start of class and students must be present at the time of the role call to earn points. Students who arrive after their name has been called will receive no points for the day's attendance.

Participation:

Teaching and learning are reciprocal processes. You should expect to do more than occupy a chair; please come to class energized and prepared to think, speak and do. The success of this course hinges upon students meeting this expectation, therefore so does a portion of your grade. Opportunities to positively impact your participation grade include: small group activities, active listening, constructive discussion in class, and postings to CULearn.

Reading Assignments:

To facilitate critical thinking and reading comprehension, students will complete short written assignments based on the assigned readings. These assignments will be announced in class as well as posted to CULearn. Assignments should be typed and turned in at the beginning of the class due date.

In The News (ITN):

One of the goals of this course is to help students develop into more informed citizens. To do this, you need to be able to connect our class materials and discussions to everyday life. The 'In The News' (ITN) assignment is a chance for students to demonstrate this link. For this assignment, students should choose one article from the news which relates to the topic we have been discussing in class. You will turn in a total of three ITN assignments. For each write up, you will turn in a 2-3 page (typed) short summary and analysis of the news article you have read. Please print out your ITN and turn it in at the beginning of class. I will not accept emailed or late assignments. We will discuss ITN assignments in class, so please come prepared to talk about your article.

Group Project:

The group project is an opportunity for small groups of students to explore possible solutions to the social problems we discuss in class. Students will share the information they find with the rest of the class, so we can all better understand different perspectives on similar problems and evaluate different proposals for remedying social problems.

Each group will consist of four or five students working collaboratively to examine a proposed solution. During the first week of class, we will determine the groups and assign a social problem to each group. Each group will then identify a unique solution that has been proposed to remedy their chosen social problem. Each group will be responsible for creating a two page document representing their solution. I will make available to the class each group's document, and each group should be ready to speak for a few minutes about their solution and to answer any class questions.

Exams:

Students will be tested on their comprehension of reading and lecture material. Exams will be objective in nature and consist of multiple choice, fill in the blank, and diagram questions. There will be no essay questions. No exam will be comprehensive; however, several introductory concepts will be used throughout the course and will be potential test material. These concepts will be identified in the beginning of the course as well as during exam reviews.

Grading Concerns:

If you feel an error has occurred in the grading of your assignments, please set up an appointment to come in and discuss your concerns with me. I am willing to re-examine your grade so long as you meet with me within one week of receiving the grade. In addition, you must bring to the appointment one page explaining why you feel an error has occurred. After one week, all grades are FINAL and will not be reconsidered.

Students are responsible for keeping all graded work they receive. In the event a student wishes to dispute a recorded grade, it is the student's responsibility to provide the graded assignment for evidence. If the graded assignment cannot be produced by the student, the recorded grade will stand.

Illness and Late Policies:

Students are responsible for turning in all work on time. You may turn in work early or ask a classmate to turn an assignment in for you in case you must miss a class. Please plan ahead and anticipate those minor crises that interfere with turning assignments in - I do not accept late work.

I do not give out my lecture notes to students, though I do post a skeletal outline on CULearn. When you are ill and miss class you should obtain notes from a classmate and use office hours to clarify ambiguities.

In certain circumstances (serious illness or family emergency) a student may petition for an extension, however adequate documentation must be provided. If you fall in this category, you must petition no later than twenty-four hours before the due date. You may petition for an extension only once during the course of the semester.

Class Conduct:

Students are expected to conduct themselves in a civil and appropriate manner at all times. Hate speech and defamation of any individual or group will not be tolerated, and will result in a serious diminution of a student's grade in the class.

Any student who believes s/he has been sexually harassed should contact the Office of Sexual Harassment (OSH) at 303-492-2127. Information about the OSH and the campus resources available to assist individuals can be obtained at: http://www.colorado.edu/sexualharassment/.

Students are also expected to follow the mandate of the University of Colorado's Honor Code: http://www.colorado.edu/policies/acadinteg.html. Academic misconduct will not be tolerated, and dealt with in the most serious manner possible under the guidelines of the Honor Council.

Religious Accommodation:

Please notify me no later Monday, September 15th if you recognize any conflict with exam or assignment dates that will occur as the result of a religious observance.

Disability Accommodation:

If you qualify for accommodation as a result of a disability, please schedule an appointment with Disability Services at 303-492-8671 or http://www.colorado.edu/disabilityservices. I will need your official letter documenting your accommodation no later than Monday, September 15th in class.

APPENDIX B: COURSE MATERIALS___________________________________________

2. Written Assignment

Students are assigned to write short papers in which they practice using their sociological imaginations to analyze current news events. Below is the handout I pass out to students, as well as post online, detailing the assignment. As a class, we spend one week discussing what the sociological imagination is and how it connects with our study of social problems. We then extensively practice using our sociological imaginations - I bring in several cultural objects and news clippings which are examined and discussed. I also provide students with ITN examples from previous semesters and we grade them using the criteria I provide in the assignment handout. All this occurs well in advance of the first assignment's due date.

IN THE NEWS (ITN)

Assignment Description:

For this assignment, you should choose one article from the news which relates to the topic we have been discussing in class. A "current" news event will be defined as any event that occurred within the last six months and was reported on by at least one reputable news source. Please stick to print media (newspapers and magazines) although web based news will be accepted. The source needs to be primarily or exclusively dedicated to reporting fact-based news; in other words, tabloid media does not count as a reputable news source for the purposes of this writing assignment.

You will turn in a total of three ITN assignments. For each write up, you will turn in a 2-3 page (typed) short summary and analysis of the news article you have read. Your primary goal is to practice using your sociological imagination and to demonstrate mastery of this skill. You may choose to accomplish this goal in a variety of ways; I have purposefully left this assignment ambiguous to allow you to be as creative as you wish - see me as soon as possible if this presents a serious obstacle for you. Please print out your ITN and turn it in at the beginning of class. I will not accept emailed or late assignments.

You DO NOT need to staple a copy of the article to your paper, but you must include the citation or web link!

The Grading Process:

Is there a summary of the article? Is there an analysis of the article?

What is the length of the summary? What is the length of the analysis?

Summaries should be short-three or four sentences is preferable

Analysis should be the bulk of the paper

How many topics/themes/ideas are present in the analysis?

Restrict the number of themes to be commented on to, at most, two

Are topics/themes/ideas explored superficially or in-depth?

Are connections made between class material and news article?

Are connections made to student's experiences?

Are underlying assumptions examined?

Does student examine their own reaction to this news article?

How well is the sociological imagination utilized?

What rationale, logic, or supporting evidence is used?

Basic Letter Grades:

F/D Range: Not Doing the Required Assignment

Missing either summary or analysis

Incoherent summary or analysis or lack of connection to class topic

C Range: Meeting the Assignment Requirements (Average)

Includes both summary and analysis

May suffer from one or more of the following:

Too short analysis and/or overly long summary

Too many ideas/topics in the analysis

Superficial analysis and/or regurgitation of lecture material

Lack of supporting evidence

B Range: Meeting the Assignment Requirements (Good)

Includes both summary and analysis

Analysis is typically longer than the summary

May suffer from one or more of the following:

Too many ideas/topics in the analysis

Superficial analysis and/or regurgitation of lecture material

Lack of supporting evidence

A Range: Meeting the Assignment Requirements (Excellent)

Includes both summary and analysis

Analysis is the bulk of the paper

Analysis is restricted to one or two, related, themes

Themes are discussed in depth and with supporting evidence

Lecture material is used thoughtfully and/or creatively

APPENDIX B: COURSE MATERIALS___________________________________________

3. Discussion Activity

The following is an activity first described by Peter Kaufman in his 1997 article, "Michael Jordan Meets C. Wright Mills: Illustrating the Sociological Imagination with Objects from Everyday Life" published in Teaching Sociology. I utilize this activity during the first or second week of the course when we discuss the sociological imagination and practice using it as an analytic tool. For this discussion I bring in a cultural object which serves as our topic - in previous semesters I have used a McDonald's hamburger meal. Students are given a chance to examine the object and then answer a series of questions about it individually and then as a large group. I record answers on the blackboard so students can visualize what has been said and from there we cluster and analyze groups of responses. The goal is to identify patterns within students' responses and construct summarizing statements which incorporate the key elements of the sociological imagination. In previous semesters we have discussed the stigma and vocabulary of attribution associated with obesity as well as the culture of mass consumption in America - all based on student responses to the McDonald's meal.

Step One: Description

What is the object under consideration? How would you describe it in detail? What do you call it? How is it referred to?

This first step demonstrates to students that to embrace the sociological imagination they must be able to clearly and exhaustively identify and describe the object under consideration.

Step Two: Local Analysis

How does the object relate to other aspects of social life? How is it used? How is it bought and sold? Who buys and who sells it? Who benefits from it? Who suffers because of it? Why does it appear the way it does? How does it directly relate to your life?

In the second step, the class begins to analyze what the object means in the context of their social reality and recognize that because of the differences in their personal biographies, the answers to these questions may be surprisingly different.

Step Three: Global Analysis

Does this object exist in other countries? How is it used? How is this use different than use in the

United States? Is it altered in any way when used elsewhere? Does it affect life on the planet in

any significant way?

This step allows students to experience the object in other contexts which they have likely never done before and to develop a firm understanding of how the meaning of objects can change depending on the locality in which it exists.

Step Four: Historical Analysis

When did the object come into existence? Why did it appear at this time? How has the object

changed over time? What other aspects of social life have changed as a result of this object? Has

your use of this object changed over time? What will this object be like in the future? Will it still

exist?

This final step illustrates to students the need to situate their values, beliefs, and behaviors in a particular historical context.

APPENDIX C: TEACHING EVALUATIONS______________________________________

1. Quantitative Summary

The following information reflects the quantitative summaries of course evaluations where I was lead instructor. I have included campus averages in parentheses for comparison. My ratings rank above average on almost every item when compared to other instructors on the University of Colorado campus. Items are ranked on a six point scale, with six indicating the highest score possible. Prior to Fall 2006, instructors were graded based on a four point scale, with a four indicating the highest score possible.

Social Problems

Spring 2009

Social Problems

Fall 2008

Social Problems

Spring 2008

Social Problems

Fall 2007

Juvenile Delinquency

Summer 2007

Social Problems

Spring 2007

Social Problems

Fall

2006

Deviance in the U.S.

Summer 2006

Introduction to Sociology

Summer 2005

Encouraging Interest

4.8

(4.8)

5.1

(4.8)

5.4

(4.8)

5.2

(4.7)

5.1

(5.0)

5.2

(4.7)

4.5

3.42

(3.18)

3.55

(3.39)

Availability for Assistance

5.2

(5.1)

5.4

(5.0)

5.6

(5.1)

5.4

(5.1)

5.7

(5.3)

5.4

(5.1)

4.8

3.87

(3.56)

3.71

(3.61)

Intellectual Challenge

4.2

(4.4)

4.2

(4.4)

4.6

(4.4)

4.4

(4.4)

4.7

(4.7)

4.4

(4.4)

4.0

-----

-----

How Much You Learned

5.1

(4.7)

5.0

(4.7)

5.2

(4.7)

5.2

(4.6)

5.0

(4.8)

5.2

(4.6)

4.5

3.67

(3.32)

3.43

(3.22)

Treatment of Students

6.0

(5.8)

5.9

(5.7)

6.0

(5.7)

5.9

(5.7)

5.9

(5.8)

5.9

(5.7)

5.6

4.0

(3.87)

3.86

(3.86)

Course Overall

5.0

(4.7)

5.2

(4.7)

5.4

(4.7)

5.1

(4.7)

5.1

(4.9)

5.1

(4.7)

4.6

3.54

(3.0)

3.43

(3.28)

Instructor Overall

5.1

(5.1)

5.5

(5.1)

5.6

(5.1)

5.4

(5.1)

5.4

(5.1)

5.4

(5.1)

4.7

3.63

(3.28)

3.71

(3.45)

APPENDIX C: TEACHING EVALUATIONS______________________________________

2. Student Response

The statements below were selected from handwritten student evaluations. I have refrained from correcting grammatical and syntactical mistakes.

Every lecture was well planned and discussed very well with room for discussion. The assignments in class were perfect for accounting attendance and allowed me to creatively think. All in all the class was great and I learned a lot.

I loved this class. The lectures were interesting, straight-forward, and facilitated class participation.

The instructor presented clear, organized material. The films were helpful in getting a perspective on the course material. Also, the instructor learned a lot of names, this made the lectures less impersonal. She was great when relating the material to real life experience. I enjoyed the instructor and the class!

She was very accessible and always would help until everyone understood. I'm doing this class over and I think if she was my teacher the first time I would have done a lot better.

I really, really, really enjoyed this class because you have a great personality and made class interesting every day. The course topics are all fascinating and it is fun and interesting to see how they apply to daily life. I was raving about it all semester to my friends and family. THANK YOU!

I liked this class and the material covered. You opened my eyes to a lot of things I never thought of before. I liked how you cared about our thoughts and took what we said to heart.

The learning environment was comfortable, which made the material easier to take in. I could always get my questions answered and that was great. I feel well informed.

The class atmosphere was casual and comfortable, encouraging participation, but at the same time we covered a lot of material. Allison was great! Her enthusiasm sparked my own interest and I even changed my major to sociology. I found something I love to learn about, and I credit much of that to this class.

APPENDIX C: TEACHING EVALUATIONS______________________________________

3. Faculty Evaluation

University of Colorado at Boulder

Graduate Teacher Program

ATLAS 201

362 UCB

Boulder, Colorado 80309-0362

Phone: 303-492-4903

Fax: 303-492-4904

Email: gtpleads@colorado.edu

25 February 2008

Re: Allison Hicks

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to acknowledge the superior teaching abilities of Allison Hicks, the Lead Graduate Teacher in Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder for 2007-08. As the Lead Coordinator for CU's Graduate Teacher Program (GTP), I have supervised Allison's lead work since September 2007, and I attended her workshop entitled "Facilitating Effective Classroom Discussions" on 4 February 2008. I also attended the Social Science Lead Team collaborative workshop entitled "Common Sense and Popular Culture: What Are They Good For?" on 24 January 2008, at which Allison was one of the featured presenters. I found her presence in the classroom extremely professional, authoritative, and warm. Allison has worked hard to develop her pedagogical skills, and it shows.

The Graduate Teacher Program is a national award-winning program that helps graduate students improve their teaching and leadership skills for immediate use as TAs and instructors, and for long-term application to professional careers. The Lead Network consists of carefully selected graduate students from 48 academic departments who develop discipline-specific activities in this vein and act as peer consultants. Allison participated in a week of intensive professional training in May 2007 to prepare for her role as Lead Graduate Teacher. She created an innovative and interactive workshop for Sociology graduate student teachers called "Fostering the Sociological Imagination," for which she received outstanding evaluations. She has done an exemplary job applying the GTP training to the particular needs of the Sociology Department, and in service to the Graduate Teacher Program itself.

Allison does an exceptional job preparing for her workshops, a conscientiousness that translates to the work she puts into her classroom teaching. Her PowerPoint presentations and handouts are clear and well-organized. Allison incorporates a diversity of pedagogical strategies into her workshops and classes, including small group work, class discussions, reflective worksheet and writing activities, and lecture. These methods target a range of learning styles and increase the likelihood that students will be able to personally engage with and assimilate new material. Inspiring this type of pedagogy is one of the central goals of the GTP, so Allison serves as a model Lead Graduate Teacher.

Please contact the Graduate Teacher Program with any questions regarding the pedagogical training and experience of Allison Hicks. I would enthusiastically recommend her for any teaching position.

Sincerely,

Caroline S. Conzelman, Ph.D.

Lead Coordinator, Graduate Teacher Program

Lecturer, Department of Anthropology

University of Colorado at Boulder

Graduate Teacher Program

ATLAS 201

362 UCB

Boulder, Colorado 80309-0362

Phone: 303-492-4903

Fax: 303-492-4904

Email: gtpleads@colorado.edu

Allison Hicks

Former Lead Graduate Teacher

Sociology 327 UCB

Thank you for taking the time to present at our Fall Intensive 2008. Your workshop with Les Sikos, Ryan Soderquist, and Jennifer Armstrong, "The Best Do Teach: Outstanding Lead Graduate Teachers," was an integral part of the event's success. The Graduate Teacher Program is one of the finest preparing future faculty programs in the nation because of great presentations like yours. Thank you once again for your assistance and we hope that you will be willing to participate again in the future.

Laura L. B. Border, Ph.D. Director

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