teaching

My ultimate goal is to teach introductory biology, mathematics, and computer science courses—and for those all to be the same course.

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Teaching Statement

I’m passionate about pedagogy in higher education, especially improving classroom equity. I most enjoy teaching and TAing in interdisciplinary active learning courses. My goal is for students to be able to transfer knowledge and skills from their introductory coursework to future analyses. However, while such courses are shown to improve student performance over traditional lecture (1) the groupwork aspects of active learning can widen performance gaps for many marginalized students (2).

To combat these hidden issues, I believe students need to be made aware that they exist. My teaching style is about transparency: students deserve to know why they are being asked to learn the things they learn in the way that we ask them to learn them. I present students at the beginning of class with examples and readings from the constructivist, active learning, anti-oppressive teaching framework that I use, such as those referenced articles above.

Teaching Experience

Human Biology Capstone, Graduate TA (Fall 2019, Spring 2020)

Intended for Seniors in the Human Biology major, primarily pre-medical students. Responsiblities included giving extensive feedback on writing and suggesting supplementary material for courses.

Teaching Evaluations

Positive Evaluations:

“Acacia was a wonderful TA to have in class. I felt as if she made everyone feel welcome and included. I don’t want to undermine her work or anything like that but I definitely felt that she provided moral support to everyone in class simply by being there. She always had a smile on her face and just seemed as if she was all about spreading love and joy.”

“Acacia was also a great TA to have in and outside of the class. She gives good feedback on assignments to help you learn from it and very easy to approach with any questions.”

“[Acacia] was always on top of the ball when it came to knowing what was required and was invested in the success of her students.”

Constructive Feedback:

One student in my first semester noted that I didn’t “seem engaged” with the class, and that I did not seem to be consistent with the instructor of record when giving feedback. The next semester, I took care not to answer questions about logistics if I wasn’t sure of the answer, and I received stronger feedback about my consistency with the course instructor.

Fall 2019: “Maybe pay attention more in class, sometimes it seems like you have different answers than what Dr. TJ told us already.”

Spring 2020: “She always seemed to be on the same page as Dr. TJ.”

Professional Development

Summer of Science Writing: Workshop

Planned & facilitated a workshop among my graduate student colleagues based on Gopen & Swan (1990). The workshop’s goal was to apply principles of good scientific writing to our own writing. The workshop is ongoing!

Teaching College Science: Professional Coursework

Course taken as part of the Certificate in Teaching College Science and Mathematics at Michigan State University. Course experiences included development of syllabi and lesson plans using pedagogical techniques such as constructivism and transfer-based learning.

Teaching Workshop: GWU Teaching Days

Title: How to Improve In-class Activities with Undergraduate Learning Assistants
Co-organizer and I were the only undergraduate presenters at this faculty-centered workshop

Course Development: Pedagogy for Learning Assistants (George Washington University)

Assisted lead instructor Dr. Tiffany-Rose Sikorski in developing course structure and final project design for class to train all undergraduate learning assistants in STEM at GWU