Economics provides students with a framework and tools to analyze important policy issues. As an instructor, my goal is to convey concepts in a way that is accessible to students and to help them discover how to apply what they learn to future courses or life situations they may encounter. To me, teaching and learning consists of ongoing interactions among students, instructors, and the institutions, and I consistently aim to use these relationships to facilitate effective learning. I have classroom experience from working as a Teaching Assistant for undergraduate Economic Statistics at Pomona College, and I was also the primary instructor for undergraduate Economic Principles at Duke University. At the beginning of the courses I teach, students fill out a handout that provides background information about why they are taking my course, as well as what they hope to gain. Throughout the semester, I make an effort to draw in related examples or situations that are relevant either to students’ interests or future goals. Ultimately, I hope to help students see how economics can serve as a valuable tool for understanding and analysis of real world situations that affect them.
In core economics courses, students are challenged to understand fundamental concepts and apply them in different situations. To this end, questions on homework, quizzes, and exams aim to get students to engage thoughtfully with the material. In working through my questions, students explain the process by which they arrive at the ultimate solution and to explore nuances different concepts related to the topic of the question. For instance, in a question on the nature of duopolies, rather than simply solving a game theory matrix, students analyze the perspectives of different players of the game and describe the process by which the players in the game make decisions to reach equilibria. Similarly, in a question looking at the effects of taxes, students work through the different components of the market that are affected by the tax and to explain their answers using both graphs and numerical calculations. In doing so, they demonstrate an understanding of how taxes affect different components of a market, and are required to think critically about what happens when a component of the model changes. This provides students the opportunity to make sure they both truly grasp the model, as well as having the ability to apply it to new situations.
Furthermore, I bring in outside references and examples that are relevant to the course and often ask students to reflect and write on these situations. In this way, students are challenged to think critically and make connections about the relevance of what they learn in class and to connect these ideas with the outside world. For example, when teaching an introductory economics lesson at Duke on minimum wage in the summer of 2016, I tied in the economic concepts and graphs we looked at in class to the minimum wage debates happening throughout the country regarding the pros and cons of implementing a $15 minimum wage. In a homework problem, Students read an article published in the Duke newspaper regarding students protesting for a $15 minimum wage for campus staff. They then analyzed both sides of the argument using tools they learned in class and got the opportunity to explain their own perspective on the issue. In doing so, students got the chance to use economic principles and apply them to a real world situation to help assess an important policy issue. In emphasizing both sides of an argument, the homework problem also gave students a chance to tackle the complexities of social policy issues.
Throughout my academic career, I have made a conscious effort to incorporate teaching and mentorship into my activities. Prior to graduate school, I worked as a Teaching Assistant in Economics for multiple semesters as an undergraduate at Pomona College. At Duke, I taught my own course in Economic Principles to undergraduates in Summer 2016, which provided invaluable experience in structuring and running a course independently. Moreover, I gained experience in the pedagogy of teaching through the Duke University Certificate in College Teaching Program, focusing on promoting more effective use of teaching and learning practices, instructional technology, and student assessment. Through this certificate program, I have taken courses on pedagogy as well as received feedback from peers and professionals through classroom observations. Finally, I have served as a mentor for undergraduate students through the University Scholars Program at Duke since my first year in graduate school. Through this program, I have had the opportunity to work with and get to know several talented and driven undergraduate students throughout their time in college.
Finally, I recognize the importance in creating a collaborative teaching community among colleagues. At Duke, I received invaluable help in the form of advice and resources from both professors and graduate students on teaching while I was here. In turn, during my time teaching, I created typed lecture notes for every lesson I taught, and I have provided these notes and other resources to the graduate students who taught the course after me. It is my hope to foster this kind of environment in future teaching situations as well. Ultimately, I believe that part of becoming a better teacher requires acknowledging that there is always room for improvement in my teaching and being open to feedback. To this end, I have received comments and advice from both peers and teaching professionals who I have asked to sit in on my classes. Furthermore, I consistently make clear to students that I value any feedback I receive and adapt my teaching and course structure to improve the classroom environment and learning process.