At WKU I teach a range of course levels within the Meteorology Program, including introductory courses in the physical environment (GEOG 100) and meteorology (GEOG 121) (including honors sections), mid-level courses in weather analysis and forecasting (GEOG 424), and upper-level courses in synoptic, mesoscale, and physical meteorology (GEOG 432, 437, and 438, respectively), as well as graduate courses in climate sciences.
In my introductory courses, I provide my students with a comprehensive survey of the concepts and theories that serve as the foundation for topics in the atmospheric sciences and physical geography. Feedback from my students suggests that my introductory courses can be challenging, but in positive ways. My goal at the introductory level is to get students to break the mold of memorization, question the material at hand, develop hypotheses about unknowns, and to apply or demonstrate their knowledge of the material in various ways. While it can be difficult to avoid a traditional lecture/note-taking format at times, I strive to create a classroom environment that is more like a conversation, whereby the students are actively engaged in discussions with me and their peers. I feel that this creates a more relaxing classroom environment, while stimulating learning interests and retention. I often hear from my students that they learn much more than they ever anticipated and although challenging at times, many students are pleased with the outcome.
I follow the same teaching style in my middle, upper, and graduate-level courses, except with a higher bar for learning expectations and outcomes. At these levels however, I add emphasis on skills in writing, oral presentations, and research. I also encourage my students to step up and out of the classroom to attend and present at professional research conferences. I believe that any "semester project" worth doing should be completed through a presentation of the findings at research conferences, and even publication. By carrying out research endeavors beyond the classroom, my students become better prepared for graduate school and/or their targeted career path.
Overall, my philosophy on teaching is that learning should be inspiring, motivating, fun, and even life changing, but the instruction must be thorough and accurate. I have found that active learning techniques through inquiry-based classroom environments promote this style of teaching with learning outcomes that extend well beyond the classroom and the end of the semester. I often have students tell me that their experiences in my class have led them to now take note of various aspects of the physical environment around them (e.g., clouds, storms, wind, rivers, etc.) and perceive the world in ways they never considered. That's a great feeling.
updated 07 August 2009