My goal as a teacher is to guide students in the construction of knowledge. As someone who adheres to the constructivist approach to learning, I believe in incorporating interactive techniques in my teaching methods to actively engaging students in the learning process. Learning is not merely a transfer of knowledge, but the development of knowledge. This is achieved through experiential learning in which students reflect upon a concrete experience, such as service-learning or a qualitative research study, and draw their own conclusions. Through active engagement, students generate new knowledge based on prior knowledge and experience. This is the value of utilizing a constructivist approach and what I hope to achieve as an instructor – creators of knowledge. Thus, my purpose as a teacher is to facilitate the construction of participatory learning and ensure my students grow as scholars. This includes guiding students toward critical and analytical modes of thinking; providing instructional scaffolding; and implementing inquiry-guided learning, such as problem-based learning.
In accordance with the constructivist approach, I believe in the value of group work. Students learn as much from each other as much as they do from their instructor. In large lecture classes where discussion is limited or absent, group work becomes a viable way for students to interact with each other and become exposed to diverse perspectives. Group work, therefore, facilitates the learning process as knowledge arises from interaction. In smaller seminar-based classes, this can be achieved through regular discussions in which students and instructor engage in dialogue, as conceived by Paulo Freire. Dialogue in the classroom occurs when both students and instructor seek to learn from each other and alter their perspectives. It is important for instructors to remember that they, too, can learn from their students. In this way, I would regard my students as intellectual counterparts, rather than passive receivers of knowledge.
Finally, I believe enthusiasm is essential for long-term success in any discipline. Without enthusiasm, there is little potential for academic growth. One of my goals as an instructor is to inspire students to study communication outside of my course. I hope to do this by asking students about their research interests and providing ideas for how to conduct a study. That’s why it’s my priority to cultivate my students’ interests in learning communication, thereby guiding them in the discovery and pursuit of their research interests. It’s a college instructor’s responsibility to ensure that students establish themselves as researchers in their academic field, in addition to developing the knowledge and skills set forth by course objectives. That is the impact I hope to make as an instructor.