Christy Price - Passion for Teaching Statement

As a result of numerous camping trips during my youth, I learned a valuable life lesson that has guided me both personally and professionally.  The basic rule was always to leave the campground looking better than we found it. The bigger picture here, of course, is the planet and those on it should be better off as a result of the contributions we make. If we truly wish to make a significant difference, we are most likely to achieve such aspirations with an underlying philosophy of continuous improvement.

I believe this is the philosophical foundation that has most influenced my teaching and scholarship on teaching and learning. Although our most obvious directive as educators is to assist students in achieving learning outcomes, I believe the true measure of a teacher's effectiveness is the transformative impact he or she has on students' lives and learning. I also believe the courses we teach and the interactions we have with students should inspire them to be better citizens who strive to have a positive impact on social change and issues of global importance. 

A pivotal moment occurred in my teaching while collecting data on millennial learners. I heard students describe their agonizing survival through courses in which they memorized insignificant details to regurgitate them on a test only to forget them. From that point on, I vowed to structure my courses in a way that would have a lasting, meaningful impact on those who experienced them. I have since completely revamped my syllabi and restructured all of my courses to include even more active learning and frequent formative assessment. 

In order to employ a scholarly approach to teaching, I apply the latest applicable research in both cognitive and educational psychology. This research suggests that learning and memory processing is facilitated by beginning with a question, a mystery or a problem to solve. Memory processing is particularly facilitated by the use of visual cases that are relevant and evoke emotion.

I apply these findings in planning my courses, using problem-based learning strategies and fascinating real-life cases that require students to engage in authentic application. These methods create significant learning experiences that can have a lasting and even life-altering impact as students learn to think more critically, analyze issues, evaluate research evidence and tackle both global and social justice issues. 

Research from the literature on effective teaching and learning also suggests that we facilitate an educational experience in which learning is active, not passive; therefore, students are motivated, engaged and involved in the learning activities of the courses I teach. I utilize a variety of methods and engage students with brief, digitized video clips, application exercises, case studies, group activities, demonstrations, role plays, computer simulations, online review games, social media and classroom responders.

In summarizing my research findings, I focus on the five "R's" for engaging millennial learners.  Information-savvy millennials expect content to be connected to the current culture so that it is "relevant" to them and their future. As educators, we need to provide "relaxed" learning environments by utilizing a variety of "research-based" teaching methods.  And millennials also expect professors to show interest in them and build positive "rapport" as well as provide a "rationale" for assignments and course policies so they can understand their purpose and see their benefit.

As a result of my research on teaching and learning, I have had the opportunity to contribute beyond my institution and collaborate with colleagues across the country to work toward improving teaching and learning nationally.