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Rebecca M. Dalton.

Teaching Statement

As an ecologist, I spend a lot of time thinking about how organisms interact with their
environment. The patterns and processes that emerge from the ecological literature are
critical for humans. As an educator, I integrate current events into my lectures to
uncover the applicability of ecological theory. Therefore, the main objectives of my
teaching philosophy are for students to: (1) apply fundamental ecological concepts to
real-world scenarios, (2) analytically review scientific literature, and (3) develop effective
scientific communication strategies.

(1) Applying fundamental ecological concepts to real-world scenarios

I believe the goal of introductory ecology course should be to demonstrate to


students how ecological theory applies to their lives outside of class. Because
human health is intimately tied to the environment via ecological mechanisms, a
deeper understanding of the mechanisms by which the environment influences
human health could aid in decision making of policymakers and medical
researchers. In my ecology course, I asked students to find a current event news
article that related to the ecological concept that we were covering in class.

(2) Improving skills to analytically review scientific literature

The ability to examine and be critical of how a study tests a prediction and draws
conclusions is essential for any scientific field. Patterns and scale are pivotal to
ecology, it is necessary for students to be able to draw conclusions from small
experiments while understanding broader implications of the research. To
effectively teach students how to carefully critique the literature and assess
broader impacts of research, I required introductory ecology students to choose
and evaluate current scientific papers relevant to ecological topics covered in the
course.

(3) Developing effective communication strategies

Often times the ability to communicate complicated scientific concepts in a


concise manner is not a focus of many undergraduate level courses. In order to
effectively discuss ecological theory to an audience who is not familiar requires
command of the material. In my ecology course, I ask students to present one
relevant topic of their choice to their peers. This promotes both a deeper
understanding of the material presented in class and the ability for students to
communicate their understanding of the material to their peers.
Rebecca M. Dalton. Teaching Statement

Inclusivity in the classroom

In addition to my learning objectives, my priority as a teacher is to create an inclusive


and welcoming environment in my classroom. Learners, teachers, and mentors with
diverse experiences and understandings promote the exchange of creative ideas, which
is integral to higher education and scientific advancement. I am therefore committed
to creating a classroom where all students are empowered, engaged, and
respected.

(1) I am dedicated to fostering a comfortable learning experience for all students


through differentiated instruction.
(2) I will push my students and myself to continuing learning about other
perspectives by integrating current events into scientific learning and
recognizing the contributions that underrepresented scientists have made to
the advancement of the field.

My focus as a teacher is to create a welcoming learning environment through differential


instruction, actively engaging in courses, seminars, and workshops to learn best
practices for teaching, and a continued commitment to integrating new perspectives and
beliefs into classroom discussions.

Current training:

To broaden my academic teaching experience, I am currently enrolled in Duke


University’s Certificate in College Teaching. Through this program, I have been afforded
the opportunity to take relevant coursework focusing on developing skills necessary for
teaching in college classrooms.

In addition to completing the certificate, I had the opportunity to design and teach my
own course in Duke University’s Summer Session Program. I taught an introductory-
level ecology course (BIO 190.02M, Ecology in the News). In this course, the students
learned how to identify ecological concepts in popular press news articles. To achieve
this, they comprehensively reviewed foundational ecological topics by integrating
information from primary scientific research articles, textbooks, lectures, experiments,
demonstrations, and observations; and evaluate popular press news articles through a
critical, scientific lens.