Professional Development in Teaching

Professional Development Project

I taught Conservation for the 21st Century in the spring of 2015, a 2-credit course I designed to involve conservation majors in a debate and movement taking place in the academic community. The goal of this course was for students to think critically about how we solve issues in conservation and identify the best ways that reduce conflict in this controversial discipline. In this class, we read papers that critiqued conservation practices based on ecology, sociology, and economic frameworks, and discussed potential solutions. We then explored the literature, news media, and conservationists to find the best and worst examples of conservation through several individual and group projects. Students wrote reflections and literature reviews, gave oral and poster presentations, and made a podcast of their interview with a conservation scientist. By the end of the course, we learned that conservation is not just about science, but to have truly successful conservation plans we need to have strong public engagement. 

I surveyed students on the first and last day class to gauge their opinions about conservation. The surveys captured their growth on the topic; particularly showing how their perceptions reflected the complexity of conservation and the importance of science communication and education.

Preparing the Professoriate Workshops

  1. Making the Most of Your PTP Experience  Dr. Beth Overman Sept 9, 2014 - Designed to set expectations with our mentors and get advice for success in the program.
  2. QPR: Suicide Prevention and Training  Dr. Beth Overman  Oct 14, 2014 - Called Question, Persuade Refer, we were trained to identify and respond to distress in students.
  3. Course Design: Assessment to Zombies Dr. Beth Overman Oct 28, 2014 - My first step to developing my course by identifying course objectives, assessments, and experiences.
  4. Surviving the Academic Job Interview  Dr. Beth Overman Nov 11, 2014 - An inside look and practice of how to respond to and ask questions for academic job interviews.
  5. Teaching Portfolio/Philosophy Kickstart  Susanna Klingenberg and Dr. Beth Overman Dec 2, 2014 - Learning the Do's and Don't's of teaching philosophies and portfolios. 
  6. Finding Your Institutional Fit  Dr. Beth Overman  Jan 27, 2015 Designed to figure out what we want in a teaching position and how to identify that in an institution or job listing.
  7. Networking Event - Duke PFF Program  Dr. Beth Overman Feb 6, 2015 - In speed-dating format, we met with NC State instructors holding a wide range of teaching positions. 
  8. Faculty Networking Event  Dr. Beth Overman - March 6, 2015  In speed-dating format, we met with faculty from regional universities of different sizes and missions.
  9. Reflecting PTP Experience  Dr. Beth Overman April 21, 2015    Final meeting to wrap up the program, and share our experiences, successes and improvements .
The things I think I learned the most I think are that there is no such thing as cookie cutter conservation. There will economic arguments and moral arguments and compromises and sacrifices in conservation. Bottom line is conservation is hard.
— From Student Survey

Importance of Economics in Conservation

More students saw the importance incorporating economics in conservation at the end of the semester.
I got to think more critically about issues in conservation that I had not considered before or only thought of one dimensionally.
— From Student Survey

Importance of Sociology in Conservation

More students saw the importance of incorporating sociology in conservation at the end of the semester.

Planning Future Leaders Reading Circle

We read the book "8 Essential Questions Teachers Ask," by Dr. Deanna Dannels, who also led the reading circle. We used the book to guide our discussion of concerns and experiences in teaching and how to improve our communication with students. 

I also learned that I have some really cool classmates that are all doing something different, but are all leading us into a better world in conservation.
— From Student Survey