A large part of teaching, for me, is leading a collective endeavor. In the classroom, I have learned that transparency – both about the leader’s expectations and assessments of progress, and from the classes. self-determination of the group’s direction, and a sense of community all tend to improve individuals’ effort and commitment to the collective effort.
Self-determination: I have observed that students are likely to be more committed and engaged if they have significant input into the topics covered in the course. Thus, my students as a group, often have input into the topics we cover in class. For my Introduction to Philosophy, and my Political Philosophy courses, students can choose (from a shortlist I have prepared) some of the topics we study. Participation in discussions tends to be very high in these student-chosen topics. As individuals, I ensure students have opportunities to shape formal assignments in ways that can complement their interests and goals.
Transparency: In my classes, students follow clear grading rubrics and can review sample versions of particularly good assignments. Students have specifically mentioned the quality of my feedback on draft work, describing it as “quick” “generous” and “very willing” and “clear”. One student called discussion of their draft paper “one of the most enriching conversations I have had at Princeton”. Students also give me formal feedback throughout the course: at the beginning about their goals and background, and during the course through a mid-course evaluation, and a running anonymous “suggestion box”.
Community: Students in my classes practice the skills of philosophical arguments together through frequent group discussions. Students in my classes learn each-others’ names early in the semester, so that they can refer back to points raised by each other more easily, which deepens discussion. I use small groups regularly to allow all students to try out their ideas in safer settings than full-class discussions. Students have said that I am “amazing at helping students articulate their thoughts” and that discussions are “well moderated”, the classroom is “active and friendly” and “comfortable”.
I have reflected on my teaching as part of three formal programs. Participating in the American Association of Philosophy Teachers’ Workshop on Teaching and Learning sparked a commitment to “backwards” course design that is truly focused on skills that students will learn before the “material” is even selected. Duke’s Certificate in College Teaching has helped me become more accurate in my outlines at the beginning of class, and improved my slide design in line with research about the cognitive load of busy slides. Duke’s Writing in the Disciplines program impressed the importance of being selective in the skills one assesses in each assessment, and carefully scaffolding those skills before students are tested.
My hope is that I will continue to learn how to best foster transparency, self-determination, and community in my classes. I am also committed to reflect on further values that will continue to help me grow as a teacher and benefit students even more.
Courses designed and taught
- Business Ethics (co-taught with Kobi Finestone, Summer 2019) [syllabus and course map]
- Social and Political Philosophy (Spring 2018) [course outline]
- Introduction to Philosophy (Fall 2017, Summer 2018) [course outline]
- Logic (Fall 2018, Spring 2019) [course outline and course map]
Other courses I can teach
- Environmental Ethics (see below)
- Applied Ethics
- Asian Philosophy [course outline]
- History of Modern Philosophy
- History of Ancient Philosophy
- Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
- Political Philosophy through Science Fiction.
Other Teaching Experience
I am a Preceptor for an interdisciplinary environmental studies course at Princeton called The Environmental Nexus. I assist with course design and lead small group discussions in the ethics stream.
I was co-Instructor for the Climate Change Practicum (with Emily Pechar, supervised by Billy Pizer and Jonathan Weiner). (Fall 2016)
I have been a guest lecturer for several courses on the topics of climate ethics, distributive justice and the history of logic
Teaching Assistant experience
1. Intro to Philosophy, Instructor: Alex Rosenberg
2. Philosophy of Entrepreneurship, Instructor: John Fjeld
3. Chinese Philosophy, Instructor: David Wong
4. Business Ethics [online course], Instructor: Vanessa Scholes
5. Contemporary Ethical Issues. Instructors, Ramon Das, Nicholas Agar, Richard Joyce
This evaluation gave me confidence that students were appreciating the overall design of my course and my teaching style. It led me to realise that improving the quality and participation in discussion was something I could work on.
This evaluation really impressed on me the importance of setting clear and public learning objectives. I was also led to reflect on ways I could make my classroom more inclusive and welcoming for foreign students.
This evaluation from a rather small class gave me confidence that my passion for the subject area paid off. A student emphasized that my course design need to incorporate incentives to attend and participate in discussions.
This was the first time I taught logic, and a slight dip in my evaluations reflected my coming to grips with the way to teach this very different subject. It spurred me to reflect on how to best approach a class mixed in terms of class level and background in formal vs discursive disciplines. I responded in Spring ’19 by preparing more in-class excercises, as well as a more extensive entrance survey to gauge more carefully the aims and backgrounds of the students and create study teams accordingly.
My efforts to utilize the expertise of the different students in class by forming balanced teams to work on problems in class, and more detailed preparation contributed to great improvements in my evaluations.
This course was co-taught. Evaluations, especially of the course overall were lower than normal. From the written comments it appears that some students struggled with the theoretical readings. In future I intend to provide more scaffolding for the philosophical readings in the syllabus, and highlight for the students the most important passages in the theoretical readings.
Environmental Nexus, Fall ’19 (Preceptor) Numeric and comments
The students especially appreciated the discussions, and office hours. One student mentioned that they would have welcomed more accountability for doing the readings. In the future I will consider providing this accountability through pop quizzes.