Michelle Amaral, University of the PacificFollow
Courtney Jensen, University of the PacificFollow
6-2-2018 12:00 PM
6-2-2018 1:00 PM
Michelle Amaral's Bio: I believe that quality economics instruction involves more than simply having a command of the subject matter. It involves developing a feel for the interests and backgrounds of the students in order to convey the course material in ways that are familiar to them. It involves developing a rapport with students so that they are comfortable asking questions. It involves thinking quickly so that most of these questions can be related to the topic under discussion in a meaningful way. In short, it involves encouraging students to ask more questions. I also believe that quality teaching of economics requires the instructor to make the subject timely and relevant to the students' lives. This requires constantly monitoring the news to show the relevance of the topics being taught. It also requires the instructor to be enthusiastic about what he or she is teaching. I was always more interested when my instructors took the time to do these things, and this is why I believe the best teaching requires them all.
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Courtney Jensen's Bio: I have spent the past decade delivering lectures and presentations on physiology, medicine, and research methods, tailoring these talks to a variety of audiences. Throughout this time, I have come to appreciate how most scientific thought and information is communicated: poorly. I have seen too many presenters lose their audiences through over-reliance on jargon, acronyms, and memorized bromides rather than clarity, insight, and empathy. Not surprisingly, many people, students included, have an uncomfortable relationship with "science".
I believe that a professor's greatest challenge is to reach the student who not only lacks knowledge of a subject, but also lacks interest in it. While many students may be genuinely interested in learning, others treat college courses like requisite obstacles on the way to a degree. For them, a class is a hurdle, not an opportunity. To be a successful professor is to connect with both of these groups, inspiring the former and converting the latter. Failure to achieve either goal (owing to complexity of the material or student disengagement) is, to me, the fault of the teacher far more than the student. There is a tone, a cadence, and a degree of simplicity that can speak to both groups. In this sense, teaching can be likened to music. A good musician never makes the simple seem complex (or even the complex seem complex). He makes the complex seem simple and the simple seem bold. A good educator should be able to do the same. Accordingly, my method in the class room is to instruct with clarity, enthusiasm, and, wherever possible, humor. When I stick to this approach, the responses are encouraging, and hearing "this is the first time I've ever understood science" is, for me, what makes teaching worthwhile.
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