Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2017

Faculty Award winner

Amanda Koontz Anthony

 College of Sciences

 Sociology

I base my teaching philosophy on the core values and structure of mentoring. I consequently define my role to be that of developing students’ abilities as independent scholars and engaged citizens. I share my enthusiasm and expertise on subjects with students, and in turn guide their applications of class concepts to new contexts, lived experiences, and subjects about which they are most enthusiastic. I structure my teaching approach around two primary goals: 1) supporting students’ development of critical thinking and communication skills, fostering students’ independent and individualistic learning; 2) students’ gaining more comprehensive perspectives of the social system and their place within it, through the evaluation of knowledge and media messages from multiple perspectives.

I aim for students to see how their professional and civic engagement can benefit from understandings of how social structures and categories influence inequalities, personal decisions, and life trajectories.

To foster critical thinking, communication skills, and media literacy, I frame sociology as an ongoing conversation students are entering, encouraging them to see concepts as a language by which to discuss current issues, address interpersonal relations, and critically consume and produce media. I require students to read empirical research and sociological theory firsthand, enabling their own interpretation and synthesis of course materials. I consistently update assignments to ensure they are current and allow students to train for their own worlds, creating an interactive space to engage contemporary popular culture and social media.

A mentoring approach additionally contributes to nurturing a supportive, academic environment. I consistently teach in multiple modalities, embracing this opportunity to reach the diverse UCF student body. Accordingly, I consider students’ diverse standpoints as strengthens within our class participation. I advocate students as experts in their own right, encouraging them to adopt their own life experiences as a part of their subject material within the course. I promote their integration of deliberation of new concepts and respect of differing viewpoints, including how they can carry such understandings into their careers. I provide individualization within assignments, scaffolding students’ strengths and interests while creating a supportive space for skill development.

I also understand the basis of a supportive environment derives from my own example. I therefore integrate my service and research with teaching for ongoing growth and improvement. Show respect for students’ efforts and challenges, drawing from student feedback and instructional improvement programs to consistently update courses by integrating new teaching styles and media. Mentoring undergraduate students allows me to offer a hands-on application, sharing research and teaching opportunities with my students.

Ultimately, I look for my teaching to serve as a form of mentoring that creates connectivity across subjects and social realms, so students realize their ability to engage any experience in a critical, thought-provoking fashion.