Learning is the goal of education. For education to result in meaningful learning for students classes should not merely be a series of facts to be included in a test and forgotten soon after; rather, education should provide students with tools to be used both in the classroom and the real world. I believe learning should relate the concepts taught in the classroom to practical examples, foster critical thinking, and facilitate the development of problem-solving skills. Being able to generate independent ideas to solve problems is a skill students can use in as well as outside the classroom. Additionally, utilizing learned ideas and processes in new situations is important. Such transfer of learning allows the teacher to ascertain what has been learned. For example, one of the classes I am a graduate teaching assistant for, requires students to design a training needs assessment. The assignment must be based on a real company and I encourage the students to select their own company (the one they are working for), for the assignment. This allows them to see the benefits they can gain from the assignment, beside the grade. If the project is well done, the students might uncover some information of practical importance to their employer.
In order to assist them reach these learning goals, students should be challenged, should become personally engaged with the class material and find the subject matter relevant to their lives. In achieving this objective, it is important to take into account the various learning styles and allow students to think for themselves. To accomplish these goals, I believe a mix of traditional lecture, and active learning such as classroom discussion, case studies, and problem-based learning would be appropriate to sustain the students’ interest and accommodate different learning styles. Active learning provides the students with opportunities to verbalize and synthesize their knowledge. The best classes I ever took as a student were those in which the teacher provided various opportunities to contribute to the class and give a balance between different learning styles. Teachers would break the session into lecture to present the main concepts, generally followed by some type of in-class activity (case study, role-play, presentations to the class, or video) to apply the concepts, followed by a group discussion to relate the concepts to the real life examples presented via the class activities.
The teacher should also be able to integrate various forms of technologies with different instructional methods in order to provide students with the best learning experience. Learning objectives should guide the use of technology. In the classroom, I would use different technologies (e.g. power point, internet sites, Second Life, video) to deliver my course when appropriate to support both teaching and learning. As a graduate teaching assistant, I have taught several classes online. To engage students online, it is critical to make learning easily available. Additionally, I believe that online courses need more structure than traditional courses if students are to understand and complete the requirements. I ensure I provide constructive feedback to my online students, strive to make them feel comfortable and reinforce the fact that they should feel free to ask any course-related question.
I believe the assessment of student should be consistent with learning goals, curriculum, instruction, and current knowledge of how students learn, and go beyond the simple recall of knowledge. Instead, higher-level cognitive skills (comprehension, application, analysis and synthesis) will be emphasized. For instance, to develop problem-solving skills, I will construct a problem for the students to solve incorporating the lesson’s objectives.
Finally, I love teaching and will seek to communicate to my students appreciation of the courses taught and the knowledge that education opens doors. I want to share with students what I know and will continue to learn.
In conclusion, my philosophy is one that strives to create a positive learning environment where students can develop critical thinking skills. I want students to gain knowledge and skills from my courses that they can use in other personal endeavors.