Reflective Essay

The college teaching certificate (CTC) has been an invaluable experience that has influenced my career in many ways. First, I have greatly from the coursework in this program. Taking these classes has allowed me to learn empirically based teaching methods from current instructors at NDSU. One class in particular that I found to be beneficial was a class centered around teaching classes online. As our technology continues to advance, online classes will become more common each year. Thus, it is important to develop methods of teaching online, facilitating greater learning for all online students.

In general, the classes have taught me to shape my teaching style based on empirical literature, not on what I think is best. Even though I am done taking teaching courses, this is something I still practice to this day. For instance, I am continuously updating and improving my classes. Before I implement a new policy or teaching style, I read the literature on that issue, which helps shape if and how I incorporate into my class. For example, I have been greatly interested in two teaching related topics. The first is active learning. This is something we discussed in great detail in our teaching courses, and something I hoped to implement into my own classroom. Active learning does in fact appear to improve learning in college students (Cherney, 2008), thus I have incorporated this into my teaching philosophy and classroom structure. The second topic is feedback. I am interested in this topic not only for its influence on student learning, but I view it as a way to increase my social presence in the classroom. Feedback has been shown to be a critical component of student learning, and I have incorporated many effective feedback mechanisms into my classes (Higgins, Hartley, & Skelton, 2002).

Throughout the CTC, I have also had the opportunity to observe and learn from a teaching advisor. My CTC advisor has a tremendous amount of teaching experience, including a class that I teach as well. During my observations, I was able to see how he implemented his own teaching philosophy into his course. There were many things that I really liked about his class, and have adopted them into my own classroom. Since then, I have continued to adapt these policies to make them fit with my own teaching philosophy. While the CTC experience is nearly at its end, I have not stopped learning from other instructors at NDSU. I recently started a teaching brown bag in my department, and once a month we meet to discuss the latest research in teaching and how we can use those findings to improve our own classrooms. Starting this fall, we are adding more opportunities for classroom observation. This experience has allowed me to continue learning from others, and it is something I hope to practice for many years to come.

 During the CTC I have also had many opportunities to teach. More specifically, I have taught four different classes. Throughout this time, I have continued to develop the efficacy of my classes. One way I have done so if having my classroom observed by my teaching advisor. After each observation, we met and discussed his notes of my class. This experience has been critical to my development, in that he was able to identify areas for improvement that I never would have thought of without being observed. For example, in one observation he noted that I could make the students more involved in the lectures, such as posing more questions to the students. This is something I have been working to improve, and it is clear to me that this enhanced the quality of my teaching. I have also had the opportunity to teach several different kinds of classes. For instance, the first class I ever taught was an online course. This was a great experience, and helped me apply what I had learned during my online teaching course. I have also been able to teach a large, lower level course, and a small, upper level course. These are two completely different classes, and I have been able to fine tune my approach to each class.

 In conclusion, the CTC has benefited me in two different ways. First, it allowed me to participate in many different learning opportunities, which helped develop my teaching style. But perhaps most importantly, the CTC has shaped how I view instruction in higher education. It has taught me to consider empirical evidence when developing a class, and has also engrained in my head to always be looking for ways to improve my class. The latter is an exceptionally important skill I have taken from the CTC, and it is a cornerstone of my teaching philosophy.