Guided Tour of my teaching (1998-2009)

Although my training is in the life and environmental sciences, critical thinking and critical pedagogy became central to my intellectual and professional project as I encouraged students and researchers to contrast the paths taken in science, society, education with other paths that might be taken, and to foster their acting upon the insights gained. Bringing critical analysis of science to bear on the practice and applications of science has not been well developed or supported institutionally, and so I continue to contribute actively, to new collaborations, programs, and other activities, new directions for existing programs, and collegial interactions across disciplines.

(Thus began a guided tour to my teaching, which I prepared in February 2009 to support a nomination for our University’s teaching award.  It continued…)

As a UMass Boston professor I have taught twelve different graduate courses: six in my original specialty of science and its social context; four required courses in the Critical & Creative Thinking [CCT] Graduate Program on critical thinking, research, writing, and reflective practice; and another two concerning computers and learning/education. Each of these courses has involved development of a new syllabus (or, in one case, a substantial revision) and subsequent ongoing revision. In my statement for tenure review in 2001, I noted:

  • One strength of my teaching lies in my willingness, in response to programmatic needs, to take on courses outside my specialty or without previous models and to learn from the experience of doing so. This learning is evident in the evolution of: the textual materials of my courses (syllabi, course packets, handouts, etc.); the course mechanics (use of email and websites, records kept to track each student’s development, required conferences with students, etc.); and the teaching/learning interactions I establish. My learning is also evident in the opportunities I have taken to get training and experience in experiential and problem-based learning, facilitation of group process, and leading faculty development workshops. Finally, my learning from teaching is evident in original contributions I have made to wider discussions about conceptual and pedagogical issues that have arisen.

This “guided tour” to my teaching is divided into three phases (in the next three posts), more to make use of the materials compiled for my tenure and promotion than to mark any disjunctures–experience gained in the earlier years feeds into actions taken in the later ones and the themes continue from one phase to the next.

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About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, http://bit.ly/NNN2014). On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012, http://bit.ly/TYS2012).

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