I believe in the power of education to transform students into successful professionals. I also think that anyone, regardless of personal background and experiences, can achieve and exceed personal and career goals when provided with an equitable learning experience. Therefore, I see my role as an individual consultant that helps each student identify their weaknesses and recognize their strengths. After which I facilitate students to use this knowledge to attain their educational and early career goals. As I have hired and managed teams throughout my professional career, I feel that I can prepare students for a successful career entry and guide them toward prompt career advancement.
I have over twelve years of undergraduate and graduate-level teaching experience from four unique learning institutions: Middle Tennessee State University, University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and ITT Technical Institute. I also gained significant insight into effective teaching practices when I served as the Director of the Educational Technology Center at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. Recognizing the value of providing knowledge through multiple channels, I am comfortable teaching in various modalities, including traditional, hybrid, remote, and online. As an educator, I rely on four primary guiding principles: fostering mastery, establishing relevance, embracing diversity, and participatory learning.
I often find that students seem overwhelmed and frustrated because they did not have the foundational knowledge to be successful. Not being able to provide an example of why someone would want to organize data would turn data management activities into mundane and meaningless busywork. However, once a student recognizes the powerful implications of organizing data, they are motivated to build on their foundational knowledge. To prevent students from missing the importance of each learning component, I introduce knowledge and skills in a precise progression so that the learner can achieve mastery before moving on to more demanding learning components. Not only will they have attained the foundational knowledge, but they will have confidence in their ability to learn the material. To help students identify and achieve mastery, I clearly state expectations and rely on frequent low-stakes assessments that evaluate their learning progress fairly and effectively. Once students are comfortable with a topic, they become more self-confident and willing to explore the issues in-depth.
As a student I frequently encountered lectures covering topics that seemed to have little relevance to my academic and career goals. Therefore, I strive to establish the importance of materials and activities. I frequently initiate discussions with relevant examples from my professional career. Establishing relevance motivates students to explore the material and pursue further self-initiated learning. As most students in information systems courses seek business or information technology-related careers, real-world examples to help students connect with what they are learning and what they will need to be successful professionals. My prior professional and entrepreneurial experience provides me with an opportunity to draw upon relevant examples. Finally, I encourage students to recognize the specific knowledge and skills they have attained and to include these on their resumes. Moreover, establishing relevance motivates me to ensure that the knowledge and skills I teach are genuinely pertinent. For instance, I remain mindful of encouraging students to not focus on learning specific tools but rather how to accomplish relevant tasks using the tools. While teaching, I frequently ask myself what particular skills employers expect of their job candidates and what I can do to ensure that students are well-prepared for such opportunities.
I feel that diversity is much more than accommodating diverse leaners. Therefore, I go beyond simply accommodating differences by also emphasizing individual differences in the course materials and encourage students to realize the benefits of diversity. In regard to accommodating diverse learners, I am mindful of individual differences and make frequent adjustments to ensure equitable learning experiences. For example, recognizing that many students are not native English speakers, I provide course notes and share transcribed presentations allowing for later playback. To emphasize individual differences, I include activities and assignments with diverse viewpoints and apply purposeful internationalization throughout the course materials. For instance, I compile group projects focused on problems in other global regions. And even names in multiple-choice questions may refer to ‘Raj’ and ‘Paola’ instead of ‘John’ and ‘Sally.’ Finally, I encourage students to reflect on how diverse perspectives can lead to better organizational and team performance.
Just as students bring valuable individual differences to their learning experiences, I encourage students to embrace their own experiences and skills to solve problems. While I often perform demonstrations or provide recorded content, I urge learners to apply their own interpretations of the materials. Therefore, whenever possible, I practice participatory learning methods such as encouraging students to discuss topics from their own viewpoints, practice skills by doing, and even train and mentor each other. Beyond the classroom, I locate opportunities for students to gain broader knowledge and experiences relevant to their future as information systems professionals and encourage them to take advantage of such opportunities. For instance, I encourage students to enter student competitions, publicly share their work for feedback from professionals, or submit their materials to academic conferences. To do this, I share conference submission requirements along with instructions for writing assignments. Or I structure technical project assignment requirements to align with student competition requirements. I have found that students become immensely motivated to succeed when they can overcome course challenges using their unique problem-solving approaches.