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Teaching

 

I take to heart Dorothy Parker’s remark, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” In an increasingly accessible world where students are able to access any number of resources distilling a staggering number of facts, information, and viewpoints, I believe higher education provides an even more vital opportunity to facilitate active learning rather than passive consumption. This is a tall order and creating a dynamic environment is an ever challenging and evolving task. My approach toward teaching centers on my commitment to foster intellectual curiosity and to encourage more critical thinking. I continually strive to impart a sense of responsibility in my students. That is, I view them as partners in the learning process rather than simply consumers of course material. I have high expectations for students but I appreciate that students enter the classroom with a myriad of background experiences, values, and goals for their own education. So, in turn, I maintain dual high expectations of myself as an educator: to make the classroom academically rigorous as well as relevant to their multiple perspectives and expectations. I seek to connect the central concepts and analytical skills of sociology to their own lives rather than having them view the course content as an abstract set of facts to be memorized. I have gained teaching experience in a variety of settings and have developed three courses at Indiana University.

Please contact me for a copy of any syllabi or for more information about these courses.

 

Instructor, Research Methods
Department of Sociology, Indiana University (Spring Semester 2013)

  • An upper level required course for majors that outlines the core of social science methods with a lab session for all students. Coordinated graduate assistant for additional lab section. Approximately 60 enrolled students.
  • Course Description: Reporters, radio and television talking-heads, politicians, friends, and our families alike often throw around statements like ‘this recent study said…’ all the time, because research can be very persuasive. But, it can also be misleading or unclear as to just what was ‘found,’ often requiring some effort and knowledge to unpack in order to fully understand. In this class you will be introduced to many methods—such as participant observation, qualitative interviewing, content analysis, survey design—so that you will have the basic skills needed to critically evaluate the research of others and to conduct research of your own. Throughout this process, we will also discuss the variety of methods that are typically employed in sociology in terms of their relative strengths and weaknesses, when the use of one method is appropriate or inappropriate for the research question, and how to design research to more closely answer those remaining questions we have about the social world. This class, then, focuses primarily on how to design and collect compelling social science data and will introduce you to very simple ways of analyzing data, once collected. Whether you plan to continue your work as a sociologist in graduate school or to find a full-time job, knowledge of these methods is a valuable (and marketable) skill that will be of use to you in many different settings.

Instructor, Charts, Graphs, and Tables
Department of Sociology, Indiana University (Spring Semester 2012, eight week course)

  • An introductory level course to quantitative reasoning and depiction. Course is approved for the University’s general education requirement in natural & mathematical sciences. Approximately 60 enrolled students.
  • Course Description: “Happy people reduced their risk of premature death by as much as 35 percent.” “One out of four Americans will experience mental illness at some point in their lives.” “7 Billionth Person Born (Or Maybe More. Or Less. Who Knows?)” “We are the 99 percent.” Reporters, radio and television talking-heads, politicians, friends, and our families alike often throw around statistics like these all the time, because numbers can be very persuasive. But, they can also be misleading or unclear, often requiring some effort and knowledge to unpack in order to fully understand. In this course we will become critical consumers of social statistics and their presentation in our daily lives. In doing so, we will also become familiar with the field of sociology, the production and interpretation of social statistics, and the concepts, measures as well as methods that sociologists use to understand our society. In short, this course is an introduction to “fact-making,” behind the scenes; it will leave you never looking at a chart, table, or graph in the media again in the same way.

Instructor, Medicine in America: Physicians, Patients, & Their Problems
Department of Sociology, Indiana University (2009-2011, 4 semesters)

  • An introductory level Social Problems and Policies sociology course. Course is an approved requirement for the interdisciplinary Minor in Social Science and Medicine. Average enrollment of 70 students.
  • Course Description: This course explores basic questions on a wide range of topics dealing with the providers of care, the recipients of care and the larger context in which both face problems of health, illness and disease. What is “sickness?” Who is most likely to fall ill? What is all the “hype” about stress or pandemics? Is mental illness a myth? Whom does the physician act as a “gatekeeper” to for medical care? How do individuals seek care and to what extent are they coerced into care? How are these decisions shaped by the society in which we live including past and contemporary societies? What is the history of the contemporary medical profession in the United States? What are”alternative” medical systems (e.g., acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy) and why do people use options outside “mainstream” modern medicine? What are the health problems that will face us in the future? Despite the primary focus on the United States, this course will draw upon comparisons to other countries as well. Although the range of topics we will draw from in this course is vast and not unique to sociology, the goal of this course is to introduce you to the sociological perspective which examines how health, illness and healing are shaped by social factors – culture, community, organizations. We will ask how these factors shape the medical problems that people face and the societal solutions that are brought to bear. We need not ignore nor reject the importance of genetics, biology, individuals’ psychology or any other factors—society and individuals are very complex. But this course’s goal is to provide you with yet another unique lens with which to view physicians, patients and their problems.