Courses I Teach

ESS 101
ESS 302/433
ESS 315
ESS 590

ESS Hompage
My Teaching Philosophy
As a faculty member in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, teaching is the most important aspect of my campus life. I teach six different courses within my department that attract a diverse group of students, ranging from non-major undergraduates to advanced graduate students in my instructional development seminar. I believe that my enthusiasm for my subject matter is as important as the subject matter itself in facilitating student learning. I also believe that this enthusiasm in the classroom is contagious and itself promotes learning amongst my students. I do not know if enthusiasm and passion really constitute a teaching philosophy, but in truth, it is these two attributes that I believe have had the biggest impact on my student's education. Most of the content is forgotten over time, but the passion and the excitement of the science remains for life. I have now been teaching at the University of Washington long enough to see children of my previous students entering the lecture hall with expectations that the passion for learning that I shared with their parents is still there. I am proud to say it still is.

I know I am supposed discuss all the new innovative pedagogical approaches I bring to the classroom, and what makes my teaching special. I believe that the letters from my past, and current students, as well as my colleagues best express what I bring to classroom and how my teaching has impacted student's lives at the University of Washington. To be honest, I think that my biggest innovation, whether it really is an innovation, is coming to the realization that undergraduates with limited science background are capable of being involved in independent scientific research. Stratigraphic relationships, geologic history, landform evolution are intuitive concepts that all students can understand and often form the bridge from a passive learning environment to one of engagement and inquiry. Over the past ten years, I have used my upper division non-major courses to engage my students to become involved in independent research. The excitement and challenge that these research experiences bring to each student is the highest form of undergraduate education and by far the most rewarding to the student. The outcome of such inquiry-based research projects is that students can see the relevance of earth science education to their lives and their environment.

My teaching is not limited to the campus of University of Washington. For the past fifteen years I have been involved with community outreach that involves NSF-sponsored K-6 instructional development training, K-12 classroom visits and fieldtrips, University and Departmental tours of our laboratories and the Burke Museum, community lectures providing earth science education to the general public. As a student myself who was educated relying on public-funded student loans and grants, and state-funded teaching assistantships, I believe I owe a great deal to my community. Consequently, community outreach is a major part of my off-campus life.