Year Awarded: 2012
College of Sciences
As a teacher, I believe my role is to generate excitement and interest in the classroom and to challenge students by providing a dynamic and experiential learning experience. Experiential learning not only increases student interest by building a learning community in the classroom, but also increases student understanding and retention of the material. To be an effective teacher that emphasizes experiential learning, it is essential to incorporate multiple modes of instruction and activities in the classroom. For example, in my undergraduate classes this diversity of instruction includes lectures, hands-on laboratory activities analyzing skeletal material, small group activities encouraging collaborative learning, videos (case studies and news stories), and outdoor field activities simulating crime scene documentation that foster a group work environment. I also incorporate class discussions emphasizing critical and creative thinking and essay assignments focusing on critical thinking and writing skills.
With the continued growth of student interest in forensics, undergraduate students from numerous disciplines enroll in my forensic courses. Therefore, I feel the classroom material must be relevant to varied student interests and include real-life examples that communicate across the curriculum. As a consulting forensic anthropologist, I am fortunate that I can provide students with real-life examples by discussing my death investigation experiences with various law enforcement agencies and medical examiners. These case examples constitute an informative and essential bridge that transcends traditional classroom concepts.
I also believe that student learning occurs outside the classroom. Involving undergraduate students in my forensic archaeology research activities expands their knowledge base beyond classroom concepts. In addition, mentoring undergraduate students as they design and implement their own original research projects provides an opportunity for hands-on learning. Overall, I strive to foster a dynamic and enriched learning environment for students that will be informative, memorable, and challenging.