Cooperative learning is at the heart of how I teach. Cooperative learning emphasizes the social and communicative aspects of learning. The evidence is overwhelming that students learn best when cooperative learning is at the core of their education. As someone who grew up doing sports, its methodology seems intuitive. No one would learn a sport well after only hearing a lecture about it–they also need to practice it. The same is true for philosophy: students need to argue, reason, explain, explore, and conceptualize with each other to build the skills and understand the content.
An outdated model of philosophical education encourages professors to keep emotion out of the classroom and focus on dispassionate argument. Even millennia ago, Socrates knew that emotion was central–why study philosophy if it does not mean anything to you? Just as important, for those negatively impacted by issues like racism or sexism, only allowing discussion that is emotionally uninflected censors their passionate speech and favors the unaffected or even the beneficiaries of oppression. Emotion in the classroom is about building passion, inclusiveness, and educating emotional responses by placing them under philosophical examination.
My aim is for students to leave the course able to engage in the world with greater insight, clarity, and critical penetration. Cooperative learning and emotional course design feeds students’ learning and creates more articulate, considered, and self-aware philosophers. It also builds into the course a deep-seated focus on how philosophy fits into students’ everyday perceptions and underlies the major events going on around them.
TRAINING & AWARDS
2021 Innovation Award in Memory of Dr. Ram De La Rosa, this award recognizes the most innovative course at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley for 2020-2021.
2018 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, highest teaching award from the University of Texas System, $25,000 prize.
2018 Excellence in Hybrid Education Award, the award recognizes the best Hybrid course at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley for 2017-2018.
2017 Selected to Lead Workshop in Cooperative Learning at the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
2013 Faculty Development Grant to become certified as an instructor of Co-Operative Learning at the University Minnesota, Minneapolis.
2012 Faculty Development Grant to Study Advanced Cooperative Learning at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
2012 Undergraduate Research Initiative grant to incorporate an undergraduate into my research on public relations.
2011 Contributor to the University of Texas Medical Branch Academic Enrichment Program grant to help develop promising future health professionals.
2011 Faculty Development Grant to Study Cooperative Learning, “Creative Controversy/Peacemakers” at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
2010 Selected as Faculty and Group Leader for the Collegium Phaenomenologicum: Transcontinental Philosophy: Interpreting Philosophy Across Borders and Idioms.
2010 Award for Outstanding Teaching Contribution from the College of Business Administration at the University of Texas Pan American.
2009 & 2010 contributor to the grant from the Lower Rio Grande Valley Area Health Education Center (LRGV AHEC) to work with gifted students in the health professions.
2009 Teaching Award for Contribution to Women’s Studies at the University of Texas Pan American.
2009 Selected as Faculty and Group Leader for the Collegium Phaenomenologicum: The Subject of Politics.
2008 Course Development Grant from the UT Pan American program for Latin American Studies to develop a course in Chicana and Latin American Feminism.
2006-2008 participant in the UT Pan American Title V grant for Co-Operative Learning training.
2004 Nominated for ‘Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award’ at Penn State.
Certification Applying the Quality Matters Rubric for Online Education 6th Version, Quality Matters, offered through the UTRGV Center for Online Learning Teaching and Technology, 2019.
Instructor of Cooperative Learning, David Johnson, Cooperative Learning Institute, University of Minneapolis, 2013.