Teaching Philosophy

Teaching is stimulating because it allows me to continue participating in the learning process. Every day I am amazed by the observations of students, challenged by their queries, and inspired by their insights. As a result, I feel that teaching is integral to my personal and professional development. My pedagogical approach incorporates a variety of educational elements that seek to inspire students to embrace learning and to become active participants in their development as educated individuals, prepared professionals, and concerned civic stewards. It is my hope that students will learn skills in my classes that will enable them to effectively evaluate any argument or explanation in order to develop informed attitudes, beliefs, and perspectives.

As an applied field, Criminal Justice spans many social scientific disciplines. As such, I incorporate information from Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, and many other related academic areas into my curriculum. This approach, based on the liberal arts model, allows students to view issues through a wider lens, and prepares them for employment in a variety of settings.

In each of my courses, I seek to provide students with both breadth and depth of knowledge in the respective areas. For example, I commonly employ a general text that broadly covers the important issues and controversies of an area. This text will be used to give students a basic level of knowledge regarding what is currently known on the subject matter at hand. Often, this information is presented in lecture or discussion format with the opportunity for students to ask questions, voice concerns, or present personal experiences that relate to the issues under consideration. Additionally, I incorporate supplementary work so that each student is able to become intimately familiar with a specific issue. Depending on the course, this may take the form of an additional book to read, a paper to write, or a presentation to the rest of the class. For example, students in a criminological theory class may be divided into groups representing the dominant perspectives-each to present their arguments and propositions to the rest of the class. Furthermore, in many of my courses students can choose a topic that is of interest to them to write a comprehensive research paper.

Because reading, writing, and public speaking are important in any context, they are also stressed in each of my courses. Students are required to complete daily readings and at least one writing assignment throughout the semester. In addition, in-class discussions are encouraged in every class, and formal presentations are incorporated into many upper-level courses.

Because I maintain an active research agenda, I seek to integrate what is learned through these projects into classroom activities to inform the next generation of criminal justice professionals. As a result, students are exposed to information from up-to-date research endeavors and are thereby familiarized with cutting-edge criminal justice knowledge.

The Internet is an invaluable resource for students and computer skills are increasingly becoming a requisite for criminal justice professionals. For example, most patrol cars have computers in them, and many departments utilize geographic information systems technology to track crime patterns and identify "hot spots" of criminal behavior. Similarly, probation officers use court databases to track their clients and word processing programs to write pre-sentence investigations. Because electronic resources are available to all students, and because the level of computer knowledge demanded of them when they graduate has increased exponentially in recent years, technology is utilized in every class I teach. For example, I regularly make use of PowerPoint to present material to the class, and maintain a webpage that organizes all of my teaching resources for each course. Students are able to access syllabi and lecture outlines online, as well as review their scores for all assignments and exams.

To summarize, I seek to provide students with an environment which fosters learning, cultivates personal growth, and challenges them to think critically about issues of crime and justice. I also aim to be accessible outside of the classroom to all students who wish to further enhance their understanding of specific issues. Students are always encouraged to approach me if they have questions about course material or criminal justice in general. My overall goal is to be a resource to all who are considering a career in criminal justice, or simply interested in learning more about certain aspects of the field.

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