The Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) is a multi-disciplinary research center that is part of Old Dominion University. The VMASC organization reports to the ODU Vice President for Research and consists of a diverse team, including full time research faculty, project and research scientists, affiliated academic faculty and support personnel for technology, program & budget management, and institutional advancement.
In July 2019, I transitioned to VMASC as a Researcher, Assistant Professor. I am involved in numerous instructional systems projects with the military and manufacturing sectors. The main focus of my research is on performance improvement, specifically, OER Maturity Model development.
Open Educational Resources
I have been utilizing Open Education Resources in my practice as an educator for the past twelve years.
My primary focus is to use my expertise in standing up a new academic department for the College of Continuing Education and Professional Development (CoCEPD) by focusing on the program for non-profit, corporate, and higher education organizations as well as serving transitioning professionals and students, and the existing ODU population. The new academic department will serve as a structure for professional development not only for potential students, existing students, organizational customers, as well as to engage faculty providing training and support, in which faculty can experiment with, develop, ePortfolios that demonstrate knowledge, skills and abilities working with CHIP. Additionally, I have identified what services, both for faculty and students, is needed to support the delivery of this curriculum. I work with the Center for Learning and Teaching as it relates to online learning. As the result of this fellowship, the Center for Professional Studies will have a firm process and procedure for developing and mentoring faculty in the development of curriculum responding to the needs of government, business, and industry. In addition, the Center will act as a research and development arm for ODU in the use of competency based learning, to document and reflect upon learning and teaching effectiveness.
Leading the institution-wide Integrative Learning and e-Portfolio initiatives as high impact practices to enhance the student learning experience in the physical and online classroom environments. As the Faculty Lead for Academic Initiativesfocused on Integrative Learning and high impact practices, I work with the Executive Director and Vice Provost on the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, (SCHEV) accreditation initiative to integrate High Impact Practices such as e-Portfolios and Open Education Resources (OER) into the curriculum. My duties include the design and development of processes, procedures, support mechanisms, Faculty Development and funding for e-Portfolios as an assessment tool on the program and student level for accreditation purposes and to enhance the student learning experience. The Integrative Learning initiative focuses primarily on faculty development by providing intensive workshops and bi-monthly ‘brown bag’ sessions to help scaffold faculty as they incorporate e-Portfolios and other high impact practices into their courses and program curriculum.
My philosophy of teaching has evolved over two decades to become more learner-centered. My teaching style is more of an organizer or coach in which I guide learning through authentic experiences that are educative in order to stimulate, activate, and evaluate learning processes.
I strive to ensure that students learn the content of the courses I teach, my objectives as a university teacher are as follows: (a) to foster critical thinking skills; (b) to encourage the acquisition of lifelong learning skills; (c) create a positive learning environment where different learning styles flourish; and (d) craft meaningful learning opportunities for authentic practice. Furthermore, my overall teaching philosophy is based on two principles, which are supported extensively in the adult learning literature: (a) active and relevant student learning strongly influences student-learning outcomes; and (b) the realization of one’s full potential and the ability to use the skills for the greater good (Dewey, 1938).
To accomplish this, I employ a wide variety of strategies based on grounded educational principles incorporating assessment, cognitive ability, learning theories, experiential learning, and instructional planning.
Cognitive abilities of the learner: Considering the cognitive ability of learners is essential in order to implement and apply learning strategies that are appropriate for the learners. I routinely plan activities, such as online discussion forums, synchronous and asynchronous collaborative activities, reflection papers, and direct application of content that can help me determine the cognitive levels of my students and customize my instruction accordingly.
Learning theory: I embed critical thinking strategies into my practice as an educator. Diane Halpern’s (2003) model for teaching critical thinking skills focus on the dispositions students require becoming critical thinkers. Cognitive and constructivists theories offer a wealth of principles that, when used appropriately, can benefit classroom learning and management at all levels. Some of my learning activities that are well received by students include: online direct application of skills in authentic contexts, debates, and interactive lectures.
Employing these basic strategies helped me develop my abilities for teaching. More importantly, I have discovered that, by sharing my ‘passion’ for teaching and learning, and using these strategies with enthusiasm and empathy helps to connect with my students. As a result, teaching with passion and providing authentic opportunities for application effectively impacts learners, and their desire for lifelong learning.
Zinn (1990) stated that most educators have a clear primary philosophical orientation. A few years ago I completed the Philosophy of Adult Education Instrument (PAEI). The results (see above) of the PAEI indicate that my primary philosophical orientation is ‘progressive’.
At the beginning of each of my courses I administer a learning styles instrument (Kolb, 1999) and modified version of the Myers Briggs Type Instrument (MBTI) to determine the types of learning approaches my students prefer. Additionally, I require each student to create a ‘Digital Introduction’ PowerPoint presentation that identifies their previous knowledge or experience, long and short-term goals, personal learning goals for the class, and attitudes about the topic.
I plan and implement lessons that clearly identify the lesson objectives, strategies for effective student engagement, and assessment options to measure student mastery. Whether the instructional approach is based on a behavioral model (direct instruction, mastery learning) such as lesson 4’s Objective Writing Bootcamp, a cognitive model (exposition/presentation) such as a collaborative online debate, or a constructivist model (inquiry-based/Socratic methods, cooperative learning) such as direct authentic practice, this helps me teach with both clarity and focus.
Dewey, J., (1938). Experience and Education. New York, NY: Kappa Delta Pi.
Halpern, D. F., & Hakel, M. D. (2003). Applying the science of learning to the university and beyond: teaching for long-term retention and transfer. Change, July/August, p. 2-13.
Kolb, A., & Kolb, D. A. (1999). Bibliography of research on experiential learning theory and the Learning Style Inventory. Department of Organizational Behavior, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Zinn, L. M. (1990). Identifying your philosophical orientation. In M.W. Galbraith (Ed.), Adult learning methods. (pp. 39-56). Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company.