Pedagogical vision

(version 29 February 2020)

Education should be combined with research to engage students and to help them forge career paths of interest and success, because knowledge, as provided from academia, is not produced for a single purpose or for a fleeting fact, but rather should resonate, be it through referencing skills, rationalization abilities, or in complex ideas formed even years later. On one level, learning helps to “wrinkle the brain” by increasing facts to retrieve and to use in the rationalization process. Cognition develops via exercising short- and long-term memory. Perceptive ability and understanding of people can change via new views and ideas. However, this type of knowledge is an ideal; it can spark and inspire learning via personal interests, but it needs to be balanced with the practicalities of real lives – across many societies and people – and another form of academic learning. Thus, a more imminent purpose of higher education is to provide the knowledge base – the facts, the techniques, the know-how – that people then can use to secure successful advancement in society, i.e., in their career path.

Thus, my first concern is with respect to knowledge building and applicability of it within society. If I can help to build a strong foundation in students’ field(s) of biology (and to subjects beyond), then this will accomplish my first goal. In doing so, I, as the educator, must consider how to supply subject matter in which the breadth and depth of knowledge can reach students across multiple academic pathways and learning types. I try to produce varied teaching material to help (hand-outs, lecture slides, study questions, quizzes, worksheets), for example, as well as differing communication and media forms (written, auditory and video, such as with news and documentaries on relevant subjects). When possible, guest lectures and field trips are means to offer more diverse perspectives within a subject, something I consider important in being able to reach more students (across demographic, learning and personality attributes). Diversifying the materials and the ways in which the topics are approached is further important to promote an interest in the subject material that applies beyond the classroom, so in terms of both general knowledge as well as career-based learning.

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 course components in the field as well as the lab. It is best if this can be coordinated across departmental classes and instructors, thereby 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. For example, a class could conceivably include people with futures in teaching (grade school through university), agriculture (farming, crop breeding, environmental testing, marketing), forestry (craft, management, timber), policy and government (environmental, international, local, state), communications (artistic, general public, media, news), tourism and industry, and these branches of career possibility help to determine information a student may find relevant to their futures. Course material can be tailored to target a representation of these, and varied between the courses offered.

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. For example, asking them to weigh the options of choices based on their knowledge, or to consider ways for communicating topics and subject-matter themes to the general public. These are also suitable for small-group, individual and/or class projects.

In summary, I will strive to 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.

 


Teaching philosophy

(Abbreviated version, 27 September 2019)

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; forestry; 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 strive to 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.


Link to teaching experiences


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’