In one word, that summarizes my teaching philosophy, curiosity. I believe to effectively teach and learn, both instructor and students need to be incredibly curious. I have seen curiosity drive inquiry, which further drives critical question development. Unfortunately, many see education as the pursuit of knowledge in the form of answers. When characteristics of our great minds and accomplishments typically come from people who have pondered, considered and reconsidered and ultimately formulated more questions than answers.
I teach for these reasons - to be curious and foster curiosity in others. Frequently, I use an Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) model as an instructional strategy for discovery and subsequently an IBL derivative of Project-Based Learning (PBL) (PBL References) as a student tool for guided inquiry exploration. Dewey (1910) began the research on IBL, although much has been done to generalize this approach beyond science and across levels (IBL References). Therefore, my approach to teaching involves both asking open-ended, divergent questions and then creating a platform for my students to reiterate and extend by forming their own questions. This method facilitates learning by engaging students in the process and empowering their self-regulated learning abilities. I have seen and researched developing student self-regulated learning as a key component for long-term application of conceptual frameworks (Self-Regulated Learning References).
I am fortunate to have an extensive background in learning theories and how learning occurs. I have researched and share with faculty and students the concept of information processing (Atkinson & Shiffrin, 1971), metacognition, self-regulated learning, self-efficacy, constructivism, behaviorism, social learning theory, multiple intelligences and social emotional competency. Through my work as a faculty developer and a professor, I try to integrate many of these models into my teaching.
I strongly believe that much of effective teaching and learning is how we create accessible, inclusive, engaging learning environments. Don Finkel (1991) in his book, Teaching with your mouth shut, he reminds us that we cannot teach anyone anything, but merely create an environment for which they can learn. To create these rich, engaging and open context, I use many active learning strategies, which I assisted to create and share with other faculty in our list of 228 Active Learning Strategies (Active Learning References). To create and open, inclusive and accessible class I often provide strategies such as:
Helping students connect their prior knowledge to new learning when I provide a pre-assessment and graphic organizers;
Ask students for concrete observations about content before moving to analytical questions, when I use the science processing skills and ask students to observe, Measure, Infer, Classify, Predict and Communicate;
Emphasize the larger conceptual framework and place into practical context;
Learn and use students’ preferred names and encourage them to learn one another’s names and invite them for an initial meet and greet during office hours; and
Encourage and model productive risk and failure.
My primary goal for students is to enjoy. There is ample research and a bit of common sense that indicates we, as humans typically avoid things that we do not like. So, I place an emphasis on the disposition of learning and of my discipline. I hope that my students see how excited I am about exploring my discipline that they become curious about it as well. In that, I believe this is one way that my teaching enacts beliefs and skills, and in that order. I first want them to enjoy learning, then I create an active environment for them to practice, fail, explore and become excited about the process.
As a faculty developer, I am aware of the literature on course design, and evidence of learning. I am transparent about how I teach and use education terms, and definitions with students. I share with them the concepts of assessment, measurement and evaluation.
Assessment as a process of gathering information from multiple and diverse sources to understand learner knowledge, skills and dispositions (Huba & Freed, 2000).
Measurement being the assignment of marks based on an explicit set of criteria (rubrics) (Sadler, 2005).
Evaluation as a final process of making judgments on level of performance, based on assess and criteria (Macquarie Learning & Teaching Centre, 2010).
When they can begin to see that my role is to guide and facilitate their success, instead of catch them when they are wrong, they begin to work with me and assist in creating clear evidence of high quality success.
Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1971). Human memory: A proposed system and its control processes. Advances in Research and Theory, 2, 89-195.
Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoriate. NY Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching.
Basaga, H., Geban, O., & Tekkaya, C. (1994). The Effect of the Inquiry Teaching Method on Biochemistry and Science Process Skill Achievements. Biochemical Education, 22(1), 29-32.
Dewey, J. (1910). Science as subject-matter and as method. Science, 31, 121–127.
Fradd, S. H., & Lee, O. (1999). Teachers’ Roles in Promoting Science Inquiry with Students from Diverse Language Backgrounds. Educational Researcher, 28(6), 14-42.
Holly, P. (1991). Action Research: The Missing Link in the Creation of Schools as Centers of Inquiry. In A. Lieberman & L. Miller (Eds), Staff Development for Education in the ’90s: New Demands, New Realities, New Perspectives (pp. 133-157). New York: Teachers College Press.
Lott, G. W. (1983). The Effect of Inquiry Teaching and Advance Organizers upon Student Outcomes. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 20(5), 437-451.
Miller, D. M., & Pine, G. J. (1990). Advancing Professional Inquiry for Educational Improvement Through Action Research. Journal of Staff Development, 11(3), 56-61.
White, B. Y., & Frederiksen, J. R. (1998). Inquiry, Modeling and Metacognition. Cognition and Instruction, 16(1), 3-118.
Iwamoto, D., Hargis, J., & Vuong, K. (January 2016). Effect of Project-Based Learning pedagogical model on achievement through the evaluative lens of student perceptions. International Journal for the Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning, 1(1), 24-42.
Johansen, D., Scaff, C., & Hargis, J. (January 2009). Interdisciplinary project-based model for enhanced instruction of marketing courses. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 3(1).
Brown, S., & Hargis, J. (May 2008). Undergraduate research in art history using project-based learning. Journal of Faculty Development, 22(2), 152-158.
Hargis, J. (September 2007). Teaching project-based assessment in 12 days in a developing country. Journal of Excellence in College Teaching, 18(3), 129-142.
Hargis, J. (July 2005). Collaboration, community & project-based learning: Does it still work online? International Journal of Instructional Media, 32(2), 26-31.
Hargis, J., & Belliard, Y. (August 2004). Assessing student-centered project-based learning: Insight from a student. Theories and Practices, XVI, 13-16.
Iwamoto, D., & Hargis, J. (July 2017). Self-Regulated learning as a critical attribute for successful teaching and learning. International Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 11(2).
Hargis, J. (July 2000). The Self-regulated learner advantage: Learning science on the Internet. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 4(4).
Active Learning Strategies
Angelo, T. & Cross, P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
McGlynn, A. (2001). Successful Beginnings for College Teaching. Madison: Atwood.
Silberman, M. (1996). Active Learning: 101 Strategies to Teach Any Subject. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
VanGundy, A. (2005). 101 Activities for Teaching Creativity and Problem Solving. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Watkins, R. (2005). 75 e-Learning Activities: Making Online Learning Interactive. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.
Assessment, Measurement and Evaluation
Huba,M. & Freed, J. (2000).Learner centered assessment on college campuses. Needham Heights, MA: Ally& Bacon.
Macquarie Learning & Teaching Centre, 2010). Research. Retrieved November 10, 2017 from https://www.mq.edu.au/research.
Sadler, D. (2005). Ah! … so that’s ‘quality’, Assessment: case studies, experience and practice from higher ed, 130–136.
Faculty Development Philosophy
First and foremost, I believe in developing relationships.
Every aspect of my teaching philosophy centers around the theme of creating and supporting relationships between members of the academic community. Frequently, this involves creating rich, safe environments for faculty to faculty interactions, which would occur inside of a Center for Teaching and Learning. However, I believe that this approach is only one aspect and there is significant power in expanding the relationship building to the entire community and capitalizing on informal settings. The educational philosophy which I attempt to embody and create is in providing a context-rich, informal environment for learning which allows students to capitalize on relevant, meaningful situations. This approach encourages intense inferences for the present as well as assisting learners to make connections from their prior knowledge to extrapolate concepts into solid predictions, important to learning.
Annotated Examples of Successfully Developed Programs
To begin, I would like to share the most recent educational program, which I have developed, which was a large scale national project for mobile learning in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I was selected to lead the pedagogy portion of the federal project, which included all public higher institutions, comprised of twenty campuses and 50,000 students. My approach for this initiative was to create a dynamic faculty development program and community of practice. The challenge of scale was significant, as well as variance between institutions and Emirates. In addition, a major challenge was time, as we were informed in early May that we would be implementing all new students with iPad tablets and electronic textbooks in September. Therefore, the first step was to create a way to communicate quickly and efficiently. We created an open website, where faculty shared ideas and I blogged on relevant resources and faculty development. The most powerful function of this site was our ability to crowd source the apps that we would include on the student iPads. Faculty would suggest an app, and others could vote on them. This increased engagement and accountability, as we selected the top twenty apps to be placed on every student iPad in September.
I was fortunate to collect data, write and secure publications for ten scholarly articles, an indicator of the importance is the topic of mobile learning. My next step was to create an eager group of focused faculty developers. We did this by selecting thirty faculty from around the country to work with myself on the pedagogy/faculty development task as I worked with Apple on the training of specific programs, such as iBook Author, iTunes, iPad apps, etc. These thirty faculty were called iChampions and met regularly for educational programs on the iPad, and perhaps more importantly, my guidance on how they could return to their campus and develop, encourage, motivate their faculty on integrating mobile learning into their classroom.
Secondly, I created a mechanism to share the efforts that were quickly being created by faculty, which we called iCelebrate. iCelebrate was a 'non-conference' event that we held three times in the past year. For the first iCelebrate in June, faculty came to our campus and shared one concrete app that they could use in September. The format was a 15 minute 'quick-chat' in a large Library common space and the presenter used an Apple TV for ease of presenting and switching presenters as well as audience engagement. This first iCelebrate featured 40 presenters and 400 faculty participants. Later faculty commented on how successful and needed this kick-off session was as well as timely. We began the term with additional sessions and then held an iCelebrate 2 in December, which contained 80 presenters and 650 faculty attending voluntarily with no rewards offered. Ultimately, one year later, June, we held the iCelebrate Finale, which experienced similar success and we are now analyzing the data, resulting in a scholarly publication.
Additional steps included iSharing with the community, as major media outlets, such as CNN, the New York Times and Gulf News reported on the event. In addition, we created an iSoTL, or Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, which provided information and guidance to faculty who wished to gather data and write on the effectiveness of the program. Overall, this initiative was a showcase success, which has added significantly to the literature base and mobile teaching and learning.
For over a decade, I have developed many other education programs which include teaching and learning in higher education teaching certificate program, learning theories/information processing, instructional design (Backward Design), assessment (authentic, formative and rubrics), Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), emerging instructional technology, and new faculty orientation. I will share a few selected highlights of these successful programs, most are viewable on my YouTube channel.
1. Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Teaching Certificate Program
While working as an Assistant Provost for Faculty Development at the University of the Pacific, we realized there was a need for a longitudinal experience on teaching in a higher education context. I provided an intensive semester long course meeting weekly to new faculty, and when other faculty became aware of this, they also perceived the value, although they knew it would be challenging to gather them together in a similar venue. In addition, we had a law school and a dental school located on two different campuses located within an hour drive. Therefore, the need for an individualized, asynchronous program was apparent. I met with many faculty on all campuses and created an online experience, which would allow them to read "lectures", for those who learned best in that way, and then a simple "Review, View and Do" approach to modules. The modules included Learning Theory, Syllabus Creation, Instructional Design, Assessment, Classroom Management, and Teaching Methods.
2. Learning Theories and Information Processing
We realized that many of our professors are experts in their field of study, although there are a significant number who have not had the opportunity to consider a theoretical framework on how we learn. Topics include information processing, and standard learning theories of metacognition, self-regulated learning, self-efficacy, as well as developmental theories of constructivism, behaviorism, social learning theory, multiple intelligences and social emotional competency. I have shared this extensive program many times, and it has generated real interest amongst faculty who can make the connections between their discipline specific theories and the theories of learning, which they take for granted. As we know, learning came easy to many of our professors and therefore, they take for granted much of the internal processing that may come natural to them. This program provides them with insights to alternate ways of thinking, as well as places them a little out of their comfort zone, so they can fully consider or perhaps remember what it was like before they "knew" their discipline. I still receive emails years later from people who have attended this session and are able to reformulate their teaching philosophy.
With an educational background in chemistry, I recall teaching my first chemistry course in secondary school. I was provided a text book and key to the classroom - those were my resources. This seems to be a common story for many new faculty and perhaps some veteran faculty members as well. Seldom in our discipline specific education programs do we encounter assistance on how to design an effective learning experience/ environment. Many of us are successful in spite of good teaching practices. We learned coping mechanisms and perhaps taught ourselves. One data point that I discovered during my dissertation work, in which I attempted to determine which instructional design was optimal for teaching science in an online environment, constructivist or objectivist, was that my sample had reached the level of education by being able to learn regardless of the format. It seems that as professional educators, we cannot depend on all of our students possessing the ability to teach themselves. Therefore providing an intentional, stepwise process to assist faculty members in creating meaningful, logical sequences to their course material is essential. I have created programs using Wiggins and McTighe's Backward Design model which begins with identifying desired outcomes and ultimately ends with planning instruction. The approach initially disrupts faculty thinking, as they commonly approach teaching as starting at the front of the book, and lecturing towards the end of the book, with periodic tests along the way. Many accrediting bodies have forced institutions to create learning outcomes (as opposed to objectives with difficult to measure terms such as 'understand' and 'know'), which has moved many departments along the way of now creating outcomes. The challenge is to help faculty understand, create and implement useful assessment, especially in the form of authentic and formative, so they can assist and redirect students when the timing can be most powerful.
One of the most popular and challenging programs that I have created and offered is on assessment. I was fortunate to teach a graduate course in Measurement and Assessment for several years and so I am well versed in the highly varied approaches (and operational definitions) of assessment. The main outcome that I attempt for this program is to help faculty fully understand that assessment is gathering behavioral data on students. The challenge is interpreting the behavioral data accurately. Therefore, the best way to increase accuracy is to collect more data, hence during the formation of learning a concept, i.e. formative assessment. Secondly, the more aligned the assessment is to the instructional concept, the higher the accuracy in determining when the student understands and can use the concept, hence authentic assessment. It may be a challenge to create all authentic assessments, which can be time consuming to create and complete, as they typically involve hands-on, experiential, inquiry/project-based discovery. Managing time, and innovative ways to offer and assess projects is another popular program, which I typically provide as a follow up to this session. In addition, faculty always ask the question of how do they "grade" these potentially subjective assessments. Most have not heard of quantitative rubrics, and when I introduce these, at first they do not believe they can be reliable (consistent). I share data from large scale standardized writing tests, and even a personal anecdote from when I was taught how to write and score rubric years ago.
5. Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
I begin this program with reminding faculty of Ken Bain's 25 years of research to write "What the Best College Teachers Do". In this book, he states that good teachers "treat teaching as a serious intellectual endeavor as demanding and important as their discipline scholarship". In this program, I share the work of Ernest Boyer's (1990) Scholarship Rediscovered. In this landmark text, Boyer classified four kinds of scholarship: discovery, integration, application, and teaching. It is the final type, the scholarship of teaching that has moved the agenda of designing, gathering and using empirical evidence to support and improve teaching and learning. Boyer states that SoTL uses discovery, reflection and evidence-based methods to research effective teaching and learning. Findings are peer reviewed, publicly shared and this approach benefits institutions aligned with active teaching and informed research for evidence-based pedagogy. I begin each of these program stating to every faculty member in attendance that they currently have SoTL on their desks. I remind them that each of them constantly ask themselves the teachers questions of why something worked in a class or not - even when it is the same class. Or why test scores were higher or lower, or why are there so many students lined up for office hours, or why is there more classroom management issues this term than others, etc. They have all been collecting data, although it may be incidental, naturalistic and not documented. They quickly agree and realize that they have been doing SoTL already and are eager to learn how they can take it from their desktops to publication. At that point, I create small writing circles, where I walk them through research design, basic social science statistics and for some SPSS training. This approach has been very successful and has supplemented a discipline specific research agenda with an additional dimension of discipline education. For most institutions, except solely research intensive, this type of research has been valued in promotion and tenure, teaching evaluations, and perhaps more importantly student learning and faculty enjoyment.
6. Emerging Instructional Technology
Although my background is in chemistry and science education, I have focused my research agenda on how people learn while using emerging instructional technology. I never place technology at the forefront, and constantly remind faculty that teaching and learning is about the pedagogy. There are many ways to teach effectively and using appropriate, meaningful instructional technology can be one of many ways to effectively teach. As a faculty developer, I believe it is my role to stay on the 'bleeding edge' of instructional technology and be able to advise faculty who are considering the use of technology to supplement their teaching. I have been an early adopter of course/learning management systems (Blackboard and Sakai), digital cameras and scanners, student response systems (clickers), blogs, pod/vodcasts, screencasts, Google Docs, Prezi, Digital Storytelling, virtual worlds (Second Life), iPods and now mobile learning (iPads). My philosophy as a faculty, faculty developer and instructional technologist is to "play" with the possible new technologies, first in theory, and then implement into my own classroom. This is why I always request that I teach as well as direct, even in my recent position as the Director/President of a College campus, I teach a course and use my iPad, Apple TV, record my presentations using the Green Screen Technology, which I built and load onto YouTube for my students to view in class or review later (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZf3L-XX-dg). One of the most fascinating outcomes is that the students tell me that they share the YouTubes with their parents, who comment positively.
New Faculty Orientation
I have created a week-long intensive new faculty orientation (NFO) experiences, and then I follow up with weekly one-on-one meetings and monthly luncheons, as well as organizing informal events several times each month, which include museum visits, theatre, sporting events, and picnics. Each NFO begins with an educational program on Developing an Effective Syllabus because typically, faculty will be creating their syllabus that week or the next, so we hope to capitalize on "just in time" learning. We follow this session with providing access and training to our online LMS, which many have seen as a student, so there is less novelty, but few know how to populate the environment and more importantly not to use it as a dropbox. We offer Promotion and Tenure: Scholarship, Teaching and Service sessions, although these are lead by a team of successful faculty from various disciplines. I then lead an intense introduction of Learning Theories in Higher Education. We do provide ideas on what to do outside of the workplace, with a lunch session on what to do locally. Next, we provide a day-long hands-on session on Integrating Instructional Technology. The most popular session includes a student Panel and a look at who will be coming to your class. Faculty truly appreciate this as they can ask bold questions to students and the students are brutally honest in their responses. Almost as popular is the Almost New Faculty Panel, which includes faculty from the previous year's new faculty cohort. These faculty can still remember how overwhelming the first few months were and offer advice for surviving. Next, we help new faculty prepare effective Student Learning Outcomes as well as give them a Learning Styles Inventory. Finally, because we know they may not remember everything we have shared, we give them a “Top Ten Things You Need to Know NOW” list.
In summary, I have been privileged to work with amazing educators who have allowed me to share my passion for teaching and learning with them. My father was a secondary science teacher and I have always seen the world through a teacher’s eyes. I believe through this lens, I have been able to value the building and maintaining of relationships and communities.