Teaching

I have experienced significant teaching growth since promotion in four ways. First, I have designed and redesigned a highly-rated Crisis Informatics class that perfectly blends my teaching, research and outreach activities. This class was a key element in the two engaged scholarship awards I received. Second, I have successfully advised 8 Ph.D. students (6 more in process) and 6 M.S. students through graduation and all have taken excellent positions in academia, industry or government.  Third, through my Fulbright award, I became an instructor at the University of Costa Rica and have offered a graduate class four times, completely taught in Spanish. Lastly, I created and led the Crisis, Community, and Civic Informatics Center (3C Informatics), which creates an actively engaged learning environment for our students.

Through teaching I help students develop into life-long, life-wide, and life-deep learners who are engaged, critical thinkers. In order to achieve this goal, I adopt three basic strategies in my approach to teaching: (1) establishing relevance, (2) using innovative, hands-on learning experiences, and (3) challenging students to think critically and creatively. Over the years I have developed what I like to call the “pick it up” teaching philosophy in which the student is encouraged to ‘pick up’ a new concept, theory, method or tool and actively use it, even as a novice. This act of use creates an experience for the learner, which grants ownership, connection, and relevance to the user. Behind this overt practice, is the intention to create more interdisciplinary thinkers. As I send my graduates out into the world they will not be confronted with problems that fall neatly along disciplinary lines. They will be challenged with global problems, which will require technical, social, and contextual solutions.

My passion for impactful teaching is showcased in the breadth of courses I have led over my fifteen years at the College of IST. This includes 14 different courses in two of our four majors, IST and SRA, and in both our undergraduate and graduate program. Most rewarding of all, are my advising activities and my guidance of student research activities. In all, I have sat on forty-five graduate student thesis committees and five undergraduate Honors thesis committees.  I have been chair of 21 graduate student committees. Significantly, during the time I have been part of the College of IST, I have met and taught almost every graduate student at the College of IST. I have touched their careers at a formative point, and influenced them to think and act as an interdisciplinary scholar seeking to change both science and practice as they move into their own careers.

I am the Director of the Crisis, Community, and Civic Informatics Center (3C Informatics), an applied research center. 3C Informatics is comprised of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students who are directly engaged with organizational partners. The goal of our research is to help communities make use of large amounts of data already produced by community-members that potentially improves the speed, quality, and efficiency of governmental and organizational response. A defining component of the 3C Informatics is the abundance of immersive learning experiences for undergraduate and graduate students. 3C Informatics partnership projects are often multi-year endeavors with students participating in all phases of project development–meeting with communities to understand contextual factors, partnering with them to develop solutions to problems, designing applied research studies, executing projects, and evaluating outcomes. Students are also provided many opportunities to develop their scholarship skills by contributing to the creation of learning products for communities, briefing reports, manuscripts, and conference presentations. This beginning-to-end involvement of students promotes in­-depth understanding and appreciation for public serving institutions and their unique need. It also engenders more accurate problem­ solving, improved confidence, more permanent, lifelong commitment to high-quality social service provision through the pursuit of advanced degrees and altered career paths.