Teaching Interests and Philosophy
Maria's specialty is in interactive media design and development with the emphasis on human factors.
I believe that teaching at a community college offers unique instructional challenges and opportunities. Community college students are typically highly diverse. Many work full-time, others are international students, while still others are struggling to learn the basics of studying at an academic institution. Reaching these students means addressing their needs.
In my experience, students at the community college level require specific, patient and practical instruction loaded with examples in different contexts. They need to be shown how their studies will be immediately applicable to employment and their everyday lives. However, this instruction should be balanced; our students should also be given the opportunity to discover how their studies can help them to think critically and creatively. Further, instruction should be scaffolded so that students can develop into independent problem solvers. The instructional task of transfer is extremely difficult. Students who score well on a test may do poorly in real-world situations. Therefore, we should ask students to move beyond doing step-by-step tutorials and become engaged in authentic problem-solving activities. My past students have commented on how they have appreciated my approach that combines solid technical instruction within a framework that provides context and meaning for their work.
As an educator, I have a broad, interdisciplinary perspective. The technologists of the future will need to be excellent engineers. But they will also need to be excellent communicators who work well in a team. Teamwork means being flexible and understanding how the one's work integrates with others. I believe that technologists need to be trained to understand how group processes, design processes, testing and other factors substantively contribute to the functionality and success of a project.
In order to produce professionals like these, I believe
that we must use innovative teaching methodologies that directly address the
needs and interests of the students while introducing them to real-world experiences.
I believe that technical training should reflect professional practice as
well as provide a firm foundation for understanding core concepts. I also
believe that working in teams and working with other disciplines is important
to developing the well-rounded practitioner.