Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Teaching history requires an interactive, inclusive, and experiential learning environment where conceptual relevance and skill development assume equal importance as the historical content. Excellence in historical pedagogy entails teaching undergraduates to think critically about the past, to communicate effectively through clear historical writing, and to understand how their lives interconnect with global historical narratives.

In lower division courses, teaching students how to learn history and to think historically carry equal importance with the course content. Recognizing that students come to introductory classes with a range of experience and prior knowledge, I emphasize fundamental critical reading and writing skills that will enable students to be engaged learners in upper-division courses. I devote class time to developing these transportable skill sets because these in turn increase the students’ capacity to master the course content. I assess student learning through a series of high impact/low stakes writing assignments that encourage students to learn from their mistakes. My classroom welcomes beginners, international students, and STEM majors. Students learn that historical thinking is not the exclusive domain of historians—medical doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and lawyers all make arguments about past events accountable to the best available empirical evidence.

Each lower division class presents a new opportunity for a student to build an enduring relationship with the History Department. I stimulate student interest through research-based active learning strategies, such as active lecturing, place-based learning activities, and thematic debates. While students may take their first history class to fulfill a general education requirement, I strive to create an engaging learning environment that inspires students to take additional courses in the History department. I believe that the UC Davis History Department has something important to offer every student on campus and our diverse course offerings supplement and enrich other areas of study. While I do not expect every student I teach to change his or her major to history, I show students how history compliments and enriches their own academic interests.

Upper division courses enable immersive historical learning experiences based on a particular theme or temporal division. At this level, I emphasize heavy engagement with primary source materials all the while helping the students hone their critical reading and writing skills. Learning outcomes center on developing higher order thinking skills—analysis, evaluation, and creation.[1] I tailor course content to meet specific, measurable learning outcomes and I assess student learning through frequent primary document evaluations, collaborative historical problem sets, and long-term research projects.

Historical thinking goes hand-in-hand with efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive campus community. I integrate the UC Davis Principles of Community as a model to create learning environments where all students feel safe to thrive. Because we cover difficult and contentious subjects, the Principles of Community provide a framework for guiding respectful yet incisive classroom debates where all students feel safe to learn from each other.

[1] Krathwohl, David R. “A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy: An overview.” Theory into practice 41, no. 4 (2002): 212-218.