Teaching Philosophy / Statement

version 14 January 2019

Fungi, despite their ubiquity, remain underappreciated in education, where most universities lack even a single general mycology course. This underrepresentation in education stymies fungal literacy, perpetuating mycology to remain far too hidden from societal views on the environment, and especially concerning protection and policy, despite its ecological importance.

I will equip students with contemporary knowledge and techniques to build career-relevant expertise while increasing their analytical skills – so they find their education useful for academia as well for society as a whole.

With experience in teaching seven biology courses plus beginner R/RStudio (a statistical program) workshops, I am prepared to teach a range of topics. For biology majors, I have taught ecology, general biology (the organismal, ecology and evolution portion) and mycology. For non-biology majors, I have taught environmental biology, general ecology, introduction to biology, and mycology. For all courses, I was responsible for preparing the lecture, discussion and lab material. Most recently, I helped teach workshops on basic R/RStudio skills and have previously been involved in Software and Data Carpentry initiatives, volunteer-based organizations that teach basic computing and data skills.

I am interested to teach any of the topics I already have experience with, as well as other topics in global change biology, environmental science, forest ecology, restoration and conservation biology. I am keen to develop courses that focus on contemporary environmental issues, both in terms of ecological and societal implications, and their relevance in applied ecology (e.g., forest science, restoration and conservation). I would also like to develop data and statistical analyses courses for ecologists (emphasizing R/RStudio).

My teaching philosophy can be summarized into three components:

First, education should be combined with research to engage students and help them forge a career path of interest and success. If I can help to build a strong foundation in their field(s) of biology, then this will accomplish my first goal.

As techniques and methodological innovations in science are what help us move forward in research and education, I believe that providing applied skills to students is necessary for their success. This includes in the field (ecology; botany; mycology) as well as the lab (microscopy; molecular; computational), spanning the breadth of potential career paths. It is best if this can be coordinated across departmental classes and instructors, optimizing opportunities to introduce new technologies. Standard and novel techniques should complement classroom topics and help build the skills necessary for a positive transition into future research and other jobs in the workforce.

Finally, it is important to me that students flourish intellectually through exploring new concepts and developing strong analytic skills, in an open-minded atmosphere. They will be challenged to explore concepts and topics of societal importance in varied perspectives, and to understand that often there is no right or wrong concerning an issue, rather different views and ways to measure the importance(s). In emphasizing critical thinking, students will be challenged to form individuality in thought that should build strength and confidence in their own skills and knowledge. Thus, when I motivate, as I hope to do, it should be as a catalyst to their own drive in learning and academic pursuit.

In summary, I will striveto maintain a high level of educational learning, promoting academic excellence to capture the attention, scholastically motivate, and challenge the levels of learning across an array of students.

In their words

 

Approach and personality

‘Extremely professional’
‘Friendliness, forwardness, and openness’
‘Respectful attitude and a genuine interest in wanting to help us help ourselves’
‘Professor was always prepared and on time’
‘The teacher always had an open mind to answering our questions’
‘She is very respectful and never makes anyone feel less than her. She communicates with us with professionalism and honesty’
‘She talks to all of us’
‘She is fair, honest, knowledgeable and a great instructor’
‘The BEST, most easy-going professor I have had in college. She is very open and easy to talk to’
‘Very understandable and explains concepts very efficiently’
‘Dr. Andrew was always positive and respectful’
‘Polite, flexible, respectful, fun’
‘Very kind and patient…. Especially with some classmates who were very annoying. She always listens first and very kindly diverts conversations to the real topic’
‘Dr. Carrie is interesting, fun, knowledgeable, and respectful’

Communication and availability

‘Easy to understand for everyone’
‘Direct, very easy to talk to, and knew a lot of subject matter’
‘Always available to students, in person and via email, always easy to talk to and friendly’
‘Answered any and all questions all students had’
‘Always responded to emails immediately and was available before class’
‘She explains things well, if it still does not make sense she can explain things differently until for the student, it does’
‘She was very easy to talk to and communicate any concerns or questions we had. Very approachable and always was available to listen to us’

Knowledge, presentation and the classroom environment

‘Amazing lectures’
‘Very detailed and knowledgeable’
‘Lectures were informative and thought provoking’
‘It was a pleasant class, friendly environment, great teacher…. Making a class interesting is definitely hard, however this teacher managed to do it’
‘She was always there early, preparing to hand back assignments, and getting everything set up for the lecture. She was very organized, graded and handed assignments and tests back quickly, and stuck to the schedule that she gave us on the syllabus’
‘Anytime she is giving a lecture and we have questions, she will stop and take time to answer’
‘She knows all subject matter, as well ecology related questions not covered in class (also, anything about fungi). If she doesn’t know the answer to a question, she will tell you (instead of making stuff up), look it up over class periods and then come back to you with the answer the next time class meets (or through email)’
‘Very friendly and approachable. She never blew off a question and always provided you with an answer even if she had to go out of her way to look it up! (I asked a lot of complicated ecology questions.)’
‘She is very knowledgeable and has a deep passion for the course’
‘Dr. Andrew really knows the subject well and is very articulate’
‘Her excitement transferred to the class and its students’

Pedagogy

‘We are provided with a lot of options when it comes to materials, we do quizzes, notes, movies, study guides, group works, it is never boring in the class’
‘She got us involved’
‘Usage of outside factors to promote awareness of the material’
‘Her lectures are not boring, she is able to include visuals, videos and documentations when needed. Not boring’
‘She was eager to educate us, excited to answer questions, and loved engaging in conversation regarding the subject material both before, during and after class’
‘Very, very friendly and explains materials in different perspective if [the] student doesn’t understand’
‘Very hands on and gave each student one-on-one attention’
‘She facilitates your learning [and does] not just spit out what you have to do, with this professor you feel more in charge of your own learning’
‘Giving feedback to students, answering questions, explaining things clearly the first place, these were all excellent’
‘Learning is not just memorizing, and having key words at the beginning of every lecture, quiz and exam helped me a lot, especially with being able to focus on the content rather than just memorizing…. I will definitely incorporate such learning strategies within my classroom environment as a future educator’

Efficacy

‘It is not an easy a class, but it’s a class that is worth the effort…. if I had a choice I would definitely take another class with this professor’
‘If I was to take another class with her I know for a fact that I would learn even more’
‘I enjoyed her method of teaching and feel like I could learn a great deal more in the future, if given a chance to have another class with her’
‘She was just a really great instructor and I would love to take another class with her’
‘Carrie Andrew was amazing! I would not have done so well in Biology without her instructions. She made the class relatable to her students and their everyday lives and I thought she did a great job!!!!!’
‘Great class! Would definitely take another class with this instructor’
‘Thanks for making this class interesting and answering all of our questions’
‘I would highly recommend her to become part of your professors on a full-time basis’
‘I loved her style of pedagogy, and would recommend that others take classes with her since she is an excellent professor’
‘I had Dr. Andrew last semester and I picked ecology this Spring in part because she was the teacher. I look forward to having her again for mycology’
‘She is an outstanding teacher and one of the best I have had so far at NEIU’
‘Dr. Andrew is one of the best professors I have ever had in college. I wish there were more professors like her around!’
‘I find her enthusiasm to be contagious, and her approachability with questions, problems regarding class material and overall friendliness to have contributed greatly to both my learning of the subject matter, and making me FEEL like I learned a lot’
‘My biggest criticism is that Dr. Andrew needs to be a FULL TIME instructor here!!! … I enjoy the respect she gives her students and never makes us feel lesser than her’
‘She really cares about teaching and [is] so willing to help. She is a wonderful teacher. I wish that more were like her. She is fabulous’

Mycology in particular

‘I find mycology a pretty boring subject matter but Dr. Andrew made it as interesting as possible’
‘She has a true passion for the subject and cares about the students and enjoys the company of others’
‘I highly recommend this [mycology] course, as well as any courses taught by Dr. Carrie Andrew’
‘She was able to answer even the most random questions about fungi’
‘Before every lecture she had the lab properly set up with all the stations with specimens and/or microscopes and slides ready. We never had to wait for her, she was in class early and always stayed late without any problem’
‘She always had our labs all set up and ready to go before we even walked into class. Our lectures were always organized and well displayed on slides’
‘Answered questions openly and left keying sessions open for interactions between students and teacher’
‘She made fungi come to life. I really never knew how much I really didn’t know about fungi’
‘I really have looked at the field of mycology at a whole different perspective’
‘Many of my classmates and I intend to petition the school for a more advanced mycology class with Dr. Andrew because we were so impressed by her teaching, and have had such a positive experience with the subject’
‘I would love to take another of her classes. I truly enjoy learning from a professor that has love and passion for the subject’

Teaching science to art students

‘Carrie did a good job teaching mycology to a bunch of art students. I did feel that at times she spoke kind of fast, but she was always ready to answer any questions and always open for them. Also, to review or back track on any information we covered. She was engaging, never fell asleep!’
‘She wasn’t too strict, made class fun and friendly while establishing a basis for the second half of the class. It felt like the whole class liked her’
‘I liked the more theory-based lectures as well as the class structure of lectures then worksheet’
‘I really liked Cary – she was fun and personable and explained the subject in easy to understand ways’
‘Always on time. Assignments are given back frequently, no delay’
‘Very accessible! Good at emailing back’
‘Carrie was very informed and excited about conveying her knowledge. It is not a topic I personally was very enthusiastic about, but I found myself interested in what she had to say’
‘Good teacher. Very intelligent’
‘Very friendly and interesting. Really nice to be around with’