Through various approaches, teaching methods evolve after years of fine-tuning

Whether they are attending conferences or gathering opinions of their teaching, professors at Trinity are constantly trying to improve the learning environments for their students.

Camille Reyes, assistant professor of communication, is one of the many professors who works to continuously improve her teaching methods. Reyes attended a conference on social media and public relations so that she can remain up to date on these evolving fields.

“I hope my teaching fosters critical thinking. That’s a bit of a buzzword, but to me, engaging material encourages questions. When students ask questions, they make connections; soon they make me ask questions until we are swimming in critical thought,” Reyes said.

Shana McDermott, an assistant professor of economics, goes directly to students for improvement in her courses.

“One of the best ways to improve my teaching techniques is with a mid-semester informal  review to gauge thoughts on my instruction, the course and student’s own learning. Every class is different, which is why the end of the semester reviews, while helpful, don’t always help subsequent classes,” McDermott said.

McDermott feels this assessment helps her adjust the course to fit students’ needs better.

“After last semester’s mid-semester review, I started making two changes based on the survey results. One, I started printing out handouts to work through during the class, which helped address the students’ request to see more examples that would mimic the homework and exams. Two, I began giving more detailed instructions on open-ended questions,” McDermott said.

Bert Chandler, a professor of chemistry, requires students in his clto give detailed corrections on tests, giving him insight to students’ thoughts.

“I learn where I messed up with the content, but also on testing in general because sometimes you need to work on that, and learning from those mistakes should help with the next exam,” said Julia Torres, a senior chemistry major.

Through this technique, professors improve how they teach and students improve how and what they learn.

“Pedagogical research has shown that students learn better when given the opportunity to correct their mistakes and think about how they learn,” Chandler said.

Chandler’s students are already noticing a difference in how they learn, and this is what drives professors to excel at teaching.

“Critical thinking feels more important now than it ever has before. We, professors and students alike, must not accept information passively; we must not wave any flag we are handed,” Reyes said.