I believe that teaching is the most important aspect of academic life. When we share our knowledge, we learn our subjects more deeply and learn from our students. I also believe that academics, as recipients of extensive training, have a duty to teach others.
My teaching philosophy focuses on supporting students with scaffolding and feedback and on helping students improve through hands-on practice and iteration. I apply the following principles in my teaching:
- Focus on the students and what they need. Be available, responsive, and understanding.
- Engage students as complete people, not just job-skill seekers.
- Make class sessions interactive and encourage students to shape the class with their questions and discussion.
- Provide detailed feedback that helps students learn and improve.
- Create a safe and empowering learning environment for students of all backgrounds.
- Clearly communicate to students the learning objectives of each class session and activity.
- Design learning activities and assignments that provide meaningful hands-on experience.
- Be my authentic self, including admitting what I don't know.
I have over 20 years of teaching experience in various roles and settings. I started as a lab instructor, grader, physics tutor, and writing center advisor while earning my Bachelor's degree at Gustavus Adolphus College. As a Master's student at the University of Washington, I taught my own section of an introductory technical writing course to approximately 25 engineering undergraduates per quarter.
When I started working in industry, I continued to teach. At IBM, I led trainings on new tools and technologies and mentored interns. I taught Google engineers a popular course about technical writing for eleven years, developed a mentoring program for early career technical writers, and taught a class about how to find information within Google to new engineers. My management style focused very much on teaching and coaching.
While working at Google, I developed and taught a software documentation class in the University of Washington's Certificate in Professional Technical Writing program. This class was my first chance to design and manage all aspects of a class, and it helped me solidify my love of teaching.
While working on my PhD at UW, I have taught LIS 530: Organization of Information and Resources, two science writing courses and two technical writing courses in the Interdisciplinary Writing Program (IWP) and a data sceience course for the Information School. I also served as the TA for a variety of information science courses.
For a full chronological listing of my teaching positions, see my CV .
I taught this asynchronous online course to about 40 graduate students in the Master in Library and Information Science program at UW. The course used a mix of recorded lecture, guided reading and abstracting, online discussions, hands-on labs, and student reflections to cover a wide array of topics in knowledge organization. Topics included bibliographic objectives, warrant, subject analysis, indexing, thesauri, classification, categorization, cataloging, MARC, ontologies, the semantic web, folksonomies, and more. I integrated themes of social equity and used concrete examples to reinforce KO theory throughout the course.
This course followed a similar structure to my ENGL 199 course but it focused on physiology instead of planetary science and was taught online instead of in-person. Assignments included summarizing scientific papers, persuasive writing using scientific data, and explaining complex scientific topics to a general audience. As with my other writing classes, I emphasized iterative writing processes and supported improvement at each stage through peer reviews and one-on-one writing conferences.
This course represented an update to ENGL 299, as the course received a permanent course number and I fully transitioned my teaching approach to online delivery. I recorded short videos for all of my lectures and expanded in-class activities to reinforce concepts from the readings and lectures and to give students opportunities to practice writing and critiquing others' writing. I continued to meet one-on-one with each student for each assignment sequence to review their drafts and to discuss their growth as writers.
I developed this course as a new offering in the English Department's Interdisciplinary Writing Program and taught it to 20 students. Assignments included writing resumes, cover letters, instructions and procedures, technical reports, and professional correspondence. All assignments were scaffolded with small writing tasks, peer and instructor feedback, and iterative drafts. The course presented a particular pedagogical challenge because, in addition to being a completely new course, I unexpectedly had develop it as an online course because of covid-19.
I taught this writing course to 20 undergraduate students who were concurrently enrolled in an introductory planetary sciences course, ASTRO 150. I designed the course materials almost from scratch, focusing on an iterative writing process, thematic integration with ASTRO 150, and careful reading and annotation to understand rhetorical approaches. I provided students with lots of personalized feedback and scaffolded assignments to help students take small and manageable steps to improve their writing.
I taught this introductory data science course to 35 UW undergraduate students during the summer of 2019. Course content included R programming, data analysis, data visualization, markdown, and Github. I used existing materials developed by the textbook author, including assignments, quizzes, most of the exercises, and some of the slides, but had to customize the course significantly to fit it into a condensed summer schedule.
I developed this course from scratch in 2008 and taught it for two years to about 25 students pursuing a Certificate in Professional Technical Writing at UW. I structured the class around building a complete doc set for the students' portfolios. The class met once a week in the evening and was aimed at mid-career professionals.
Additional Teaching Materials
This lecture was part of IMT 530: Organization of Information and Resources, which was all about building taxonomies and ontologies. I structured these materials, which were central to course, around the assigned readings and included many examples from my personal and professional life. The students particularly appreciated the discussion of my ontology-focused projects at Google because they were career-focused Masters students and the demonstration of Protege because class exercises and assignments were all completed in PoolParty.
This lecture was part of IMT 530: Organization of Information and Resources, which was all about building taxonomies and ontologies. I developed these materials based on my own experience and the assigned readings for the day. I built the discussion around a particularly interesting information object, The Raven and the First Men by Bill Reid, and some related information objects. I delivered this to a small and enaged class of graduate students, so it involved a significant amount of discussion.
This lecture was part of LIS 530: Organization of Information and Resources. I developed the materials based on an existing slide deck, but made significant changes to the content and the presentation style. I changed the framing with the opening slides, fleshed out the sections on Wilson's methods, added examples of subject analysis and the section on Langridge, and streamlined the facets section. Many students cited this lecture as their favorite lecture in the class. I was invited to give an updated version of this lecture the following year and added a discussion of a Birger Hjørland reading to give students a stronger philosophical grounding. Finally, I built a prototype flipped classroom design of the lecture materials in Canvas.
This short lecture was the second half of a two-part lecture in IMT 535: Information Architecture. The lecture connects classification with information architecture and uses concrete examples from my work as the information architect for cloud.google.com documentation.
This lecture was part of LIS 501: History And Foundations of Libraries And Librarianship. I developed the materials myself, but fit it into the larger narrative of the course. I structured the content around 1) digital technologies for classification and retrieval and 2) digital content itself. I had the students write a response essay where they considered which move to digital technologies had a bigger impact on libraries. I also paired the lecture with an exercise where students evaluated and presented to the class about different digital libraries.
This short lecture was part of a series of vignettes in LIS 501: History And Foundations of Libraries And Librarianship that introduced students to key historical figures, places, and moments. I focused on Cutter numbers because most of the students were in their first year of an MLIS program and were hungry to learn technical details of the profession.