Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: Kimberly Bess
Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. In January 2011, Kimberly D. Bess, Assistant Professor of Human and Organizational Development talks about her teaching philosophy and interests:
As a teacher I see myself as a co-participant in a learning journey with my students. For me teaching is a challenging, rewarding, and deeply enriching experience that informs and is informed by my research. In this way, I view it as an integral aspect of my scholarly work. Two central beliefs underpin my teaching philosophy and practice.
“I see one of my primary tasks as creating a learning environment that students experience as relevant and meaningful and that connects them to their passions.”
First is the simple belief born out of my own experience that people learn best when they are engaged in trying to understand problems, issues, or aspects of life that matter to them. I see one of my primary tasks as creating a learning environment that students experience as relevant and meaningful and that connects them to their passions. Second, a primary purpose of higher education is to prepare students for the complexities of the non-academic world in which they will undoubtedly encounter problems that are multi-faceted and ill-defined, and in which solutions are often far from obvious. For me this means challenging students 1) to investigate social phenomena from multiple perspectives, 2) to develop a practice of examining their own assumptions about the causes and consequences of social problems, 3) to engage in deep inquiry and debate within the Vanderbilt learning community, and 4) to develop the capacity to form arguments through critical evaluation and the skilled-use of evidence. It also means discovering ways to scaffold and sequence learning so that students are supported through their developmental learning journey.