Tess: Online

Research and Teaching Philosophy

My Research:

My scholarship and research focus on the implications of digital technology and the ways in which people negotiate their cultural identities in order to resolve complex situations when online. The central theme of my research is the production of meaning in every day life. This research agenda expands my dissertation where I investigated how women intentionally change their language styles and narratives from private conversations into a public exchange of ideas, and the Internet’s role in how the language styles and narratives are unintentionally changed when they occur online. Three major projects are now under development.

Teaching Philosophy:

As an educator, it is my responsibility to encourage critical thinking and writing, promote discussion, and introduce the roots of communication and feminist theories so that students can envision a world where new forms of inquiry enable them to sift through diverse worldviews. The future of communication and women and gender studies lies in visionary methods that incorporate technology with the fundamental assumptions of ways of being and knowing. Three principles, inclusion, interaction, and innovation, shape and direct my teaching.

I ground my teaching philosophy in an ethics of inclusion that balances theory, and pedagogy. The courses I teach honor the scholarship from multiple disciplines to prepare students for a world where critical thinking and evaluative techniques are essential for success. The principles of safety, freedom, value, and openness provide the foundation for my teaching philosophy. By using these tenets in my classroom, I provide a secure environment where we have the freedom to change while valuing one another's intrinsic worth. An openness to change encourages participation in classroom discussions, community service, and curriculum development.

This cooperative and collaborative approach to pedagogy is productive and promotes deeper understanding. It also requires the art of active listening. In my classroom, I strive to create a climate where everyone learns from each other, not as part of a persuasive monologue, but as active participants in transformative dialogues. Within transformative dialogues, understanding values and perspectives different from our own are vital to bridging cultural gaps and promoting social change. This results in personal growth on many levels, including transformations between the teacher and herself, the teacher and her students, and the students and their communities. Interactive learning environments also include community involvement and activism and, to this end, I am interested in developing service-learning components to my courses.

Finally, because of my interests in digital technology, I am committed to developing interactive pedagogy for both the in-class and distance learners. I also try to include teaching techniques that support diverse learning styles. For example, some students learn best by observing physical examples of the concepts. To this end, I often take my students on field trips or use scavenger hunts. I also encourage team projects and collaboration between students in my courses with students and instructors from related courses.

For me, teaching is a life-long journey that includes students, other faculty, non-academic professionals, the community, and family. I find that, when I depart from relying on instructor-centered teaching models, a more dynamic and meaningful learning experience emerges that situates communication studies in the “real” world. These interactions will lead to innovative ideas that benefit us all.