Teaching, Philosophy + CV


A student once asked why I became a professor instead of remaining in the advertising industry. Without hesitation I responded that my teaching experience has been far more rewarding than anything I’ve accomplished in my professional career in advertising. Teaching is not only personally rewarding, but exciting in its demands. It has also improved my research and writing, as I review and present topics in different ways to new audiences.


My philosophy of teaching has emerged from my experience as an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, a large university with a highly diverse undergraduate population. I have taught smaller classes that allow for one-on-one interaction and hands-on work, both of which have helped me form good working relationships with a majority of my students. Teaching has also exposed me to the unique personalities of typical college students. These experiences have led me to form a teaching style that emphasizes the role of the student as learner over that of the professor as teacher. Below are the four elements that influence how I design and run my courses:


Teaching is not about demonstrating the knowledge of the instructor. Rather, it is about guiding students through a creative landscape, giving them the resources to navigate along the way. Most students want and expect to be intellectually challenged by their courses. When class standards are high, students exert themselves to meet those standards. For example, in Imagination (MASC 394) I gave an assignment that paired students, asking them to create a logo for one another. With their partner as their client, students were highly motivated to do their best work. During critiques I facilitated discussions about their work and gave creative direction, but never told them exactly what to do. At the end of the semester, students assessed this assignment as challenging but very rewarding.


Students learn best when they are required to be creative in problem-solving situations. Knowing that it takes a certain amount of pressure to be creative, I developed in-class exercises that encourage free thinking while collaborating with others under a tight deadline. For example, in Story (MASC 204) I broke the class into teams then asked them to create a fictional product. As soon as the teams landed on their product idea, they were instructed to act out a skit that would persuade the class to purchase that product. The class voted on the presentations to declare a winner. During a later discussion, students generally agreed that this was a fun and useful way to expand their creative thinking.


Students perform at a higher level when they are allowed to share control of the course and classroom. This collaborative and cooperative approach to education gives students a sense of personal control, making them more engaged in the learning process. It also positions the instructor as a facilitator versus someone who imparts knowledge from an elevated status. For example, in Story (MASC 204) I assigned several individual creative projects, each of which was presented to the class. After each presentation, students were given the freedom to express their creative thoughts on others’ work. When the presentations ended each student voted to determine which projects were the best, ultimately determining grades for those assignments. During several discussions afterward, a majority of the students agreed that this competitive process motivated them to work harder, resulting in better work.


Students who are engaged in their courses are the best learners. I’ve found that individual attention encourages them to work harder and learn more as a result. Therefore, for all of my courses I utilize several techniques to connect with students. One-on-one meetings allow me to give students specific feedback as well as oversee their individual development throughout the semester. I also make myself available to them beyond the classroom for additional help or insight, whether it be online or in person. Regardless of the engagement, I strive to maintain a positive relationship with every student by offering them my respect. When asked to evaluate my course at the end of the semester, many students point out how important it is for me to get to know them, give them individual feedback and help them evolve into better students.


Download my Fall 2017 CV here