In the summer of 2015, I taught Animal Behavior (BZ300) at Colorado State University. We used case studies, discussions, group activities, clicker-based polling, Skyping with active researchers, and daily mini-quizzes to dive deep into the material and relate it to issues and topics relevant to today’s world. Students also each presented a journal article, unpacked and analyzed various abstracts and figures from other articles, and wrote and edited proposals (NSF GRFP style) with the goal of gaining practice in communicating like a scientist and thinking critically about how to test hypotheses. I truly loved teaching this course, and many students let me know informally and on formative and pre/post assessments that they enjoyed being a part of it and learned a lot, too.
In 2014, I stepped in (from my then ongoing role as Director of Undergrad Programs) as a Resident Professor of the Research Practicum course as part of the Global Health Undergraduate Semester Abroad Program with the Organization for Tropical Studies. Students designed and carried out semester-long research projects in public health in the community in southern Costa Rica. My role was to train them in experimental design, data analysis, and writing/presentation skills and to help shape their projects into relevant, feasible, and ethically sound experiments, including obtaining IRB approval from Duke University and collaborating with partners in local clinics and indigenous areas during the data collection process. Many of these students are now applying to medical school, and it is wonderful to hear how their research experience in this course impacted their path of a career in medicine.
In 2006-2007, I acted as a teaching assistant the University of Miami for labs in general biology and ecology. During the Ecology Lab, I had the freedom to design the labs as the other TA and I saw fit. We created numerous outdoor laboratories on a weekly basis from hands-on exploration of the ideal-free distribution concept at a monkey rehabilitation center (“Monkey Jungle”) to mark-recapture with butterflies in a city park to understanding the ecomorph concept while noosing the 7 species of anole lizards present on campus (mostly non-native species). We mentored our two classes of 25 students each through a semester-long project in the pond behind the Cox Science Center looking at microinvertebrate diversity under different treatments of shade and cover. Students had to practice their manuscript writing and editing, and got a taste of hypothesis development as well.
I have also twice taught a grant-writing course for advanced undergraduate students enrolled at Duke University and both English and herpetology classes for naturalist guides in training at La Selva and at Selva Verde Lodge.
While at the University of Miami, I participated in year-long series of workshops on teaching that covered issues such as visual/verbal/kinesthetic learners and the role of diverse student backgrounds in student/teacher relationships. Also, in 2013, I attended a workshop on rubric development and assessment at Duke University in association with the Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCES) from the American Museum of Natural History.