Essay Example: Areas of Specialization or Teaching Expertise

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Middlebury College
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Essay 1: What are your areas of specialization or teaching expertise?

I am substantially interested in sociology as my major specialization. My interest in sociology escalated during my undergraduate studies when I was majoring in sociology and politics. At one time in my education, I recognized a fundamental missing link between the knowledge and experience, in class and in life, which was engagement, the wellspring of motivation, persistence, and achievement. My commitment to becoming an educator in higher education is mainly exacerbated by the need and desire to research and unmask the possible reasons behind the existence of a fundamental link between the knowledge and experience among students.

I have been a Course Assistant and Action Research Team Leader at the University of California, Santa Cruz for three months. During this period, I was involved in research and analysis of the sustainable, ecological housing alternatives for the Family Student Housing facilities at the University. I also participated in voluntary student teaching and collaborative learning as part of an undergraduate research and teacher assistant training program for a year. I have also been a Course Assistant and Lead Peer Mentor at the University of California, Santa Cruz for one year. Throughout this period, I was involved in various voluntary teaching activities. At the same time, I was the Volunteer peer-mentor lead of former FMP participant mentors as part of the FMP undergraduate research, and pilot peers mentoring program.

Undeniably, these teaching positions have significantly influenced my abilities as an educator. During these periods, my purpose has been primarily to facilitate the exploration of the knowledge, and I have been able to help others create new insights in doing so. I have come to follow the footsteps of Paolo Freire Lev Vygotsky who believed that teachers are not educational bankers and their students are not accounts in whom they deposit their information because learning is based on the ever-expanding horizon of knowledge to which they do not hold the exclusive claim. As a lecturer, I act as an agent provocateur whose aim is to encourage the self-imposed students questions of So What and who challenges the already existing avenues through which knowledge is viewed. Drawing on David Kolbs Experimental Learning Theory, I have developed a firm belief in active learning and always try to maintain very lively and interactive classrooms when teaching sociology. To me, therefore, teaching is not necessarily about giving lectures to students, but also presenting theories, concepts, and empirical materials to the learners in the manner that they integrate the information into their lives and thereby being able to discern its relevance. As an experience which I feel you are looking for, I have always tried to achieve this both in my presentations and lectures and writing assignments.

As a Course Assistant and Action Research Team Leader at the University of California, Santa Cruz, I learned about the use of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) models, which form essential skills set a lecturer should possess. Over the years, I have been able to facilitate learning through making students more active in the learning process. As an educator, I possess substantial knowledge when it comes to guiding questioning so that students do not ask for the problem solved but rather look for the students responses, which can enhance the discovery of various solutions paths of a given problem. Having held the positions of a teaching assistant in the past, I have always asked for the explanations aimed at bringing a topic to a broader class discussion. Conceivably, I have always repeated the statements given by the learners with the goal of hinting at the right issue, thus preventing many exploitations of the wrong topic. Further, as an educator, I have known the significance of asking the students to critique possible hypothesis to enable them to gather their learning experiences and in turn develop their hypothesis to facilitate a clean observation of their objectives.

Essay Prompt 2: Briefly describe why you would like to work for the University and how your contributions would enhance the University's Vision Statement

As an experienced lecturer, I maintain a firm commitment to teaching for two main reasons. Firstly, it is because I am passionate about it and secondly, because of my strong belief in the significance of social science in helping students grow and develop into informed and active citizens. My goals entail allowing the sociological theory to address the sociological problems being faced in the world. This goal greatly compliments the mission of the Northwestern University, which is the commitment to excellent teaching, innovative research and the personal and intellectual growth of its students in a diverse academic community. As a sociologist, I aim at complicating rather than simplifying, and problematizing rather than adopting the solutions regarding the sociological discourses. My goal in syllabus design and constructions, giving lectures and facilitating the discussions is to broaden student understands of given issues and multiple interests, ideas and insights that are attached to it. These objectives are exactly that that the university desires to achieve and which is appended to the institutions core values, which include applied, active and project-based learning activities, service learning, ethical reflection and practice, collaboration in education, and multicultural and global perspective.

Over the past years, NWU has been categorized as among the best higher education institutions that offer excellent sociology and related courses to diverse groups of students from all over the world. Through the courses such as Sociological Foundations, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences aims at empowering the students to critically assess their positions in the world through embracing imagination, communication, collaboration, creativity and transformation and in turn succeed academically. With the teaching knowledge and expertise that I possess, I believe I will be able to promote dynamism in learning as stipulated in the NWU curriculum. Notably, learning is an exciting sense and occurs when factual knowledge is accompanied by the ability to create and apply knowledge to synthesize, make judgments, and ultimately make logical normative arguments. When given the opportunity, I will achieve this through occasionally and intentionally create a learning environment that is comfortable for the students. Sociological studies have shown that students learn best in moments when they are pushed to think beyond what they know.

Northwestern Universitys academic excellence goals stand out throughout the Illinois state as well as other nations such as Doha where its other campuses are situated. I believe that teaching in one of the world class universities will allow a continuous personal and intellectual growth in me as a lecturer as well as work towards the fulfillment of the institutions mission and vision. I am a firm believer in students academic excellence achievable through the use of the appropriate models such as the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) technique. As a lecturer at Northwestern University, I will facilitate learning by allowing the learners become more active in the learning process. For instance, I will guide questioning so that students do not ask for the solutions for the given problems or issues, but rather evaluate their responses to facilitate their discovery of the existing many solutions paths. I believe that PBL is an effective instructional model that needs departmental and faculty guidance towards the development of the concurrent course objectives of short-term recollection and long-term knowledge that are simple, multidimensional and provide the students with the opportunity for more in depth student-centered learning opportunities. Like my aim, the NWU is envisioned to promote such students academic excellence through PBL, which is enhanced and supported by various important aspects such as holistic and creative sense of oneself, efficient and ethical communication in different languages, creative expression, ethics, social justice and care for one another and technological and visual literacy. I believe I have the knowledge that you could use in your faculty, to ensure that all these are achieved by the institutions mission and vision.


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