© 2015-2018 by Brigette Valencia Zacharczenko, PhD

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Science Educator

Lecturer

Teaching Assistant

Teaching Philosophy

When I think of the most influential instructors in my life, they have all been vibrant, dedicated, and empathetic people with a palpable passion for the subject they are teaching. They’ve had a variety of teaching styles, but all made a strong impression with their ability to convey and transmit their love for their work. My goal as an instructor is to emulate their attitudes, implement their best practices, and continue my quest to learn and improve as a teacher. I believe my greatest strength as an instructor is my enthusiasm, a trait mentioned frequently in my evaluations. This is especially important when teaching entomology, a subject not widely appreciated by the general public. Entomology courses cover such a wide array of material it is difficult to prioritize, or to possibly cover everything I would wish to cover. Therefore my main goal is to foster an appreciation for insects that will promote self-learning and discovery amongst the students, and hopefully propel them to take further courses. I also take the time to dispel common myths and superstitions about insects, as these are the tidbits most likely to get passed along to their friends and family. As for course content I prioritize the evolutionary trends in insects, as this thread truly ties together the varied and disparate disciplines within entomology. There is also a focus on mastering collecting and preservation methods, which provides a hands-on way to connect to the material. Meanwhile I expect memorization of order and family names. This is not a popular task, nevertheless an important skill. Throughout the lectures I also wish to get across the idea of entomology as more than just another course, but also a realistic career option. Finally I believe that social interaction is vital to the learning process, and incorporate group outings and exercises to promote healthy class dynamics and mutual respect. At the end of a course I want every student to feel inspired, motivated, proficient, confident, and full of fond memories. Likewise for introductory biology labs - though they offer their own set of unique challenges, I approach each class with an expectation of excellence and enthusiasm. Teaching is something I will continue to do throughout my life, so I consider it my duty to continue to learn and grow as an instructor.  

Comments from Teaching Evaluations

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