My name is Dr. Henley (or Dr. H), and I am the Director of Online Programs in the Neuroscience Program. I have been the primary instructor for NEU 300 for 8 years but have played a role in the course for much longer than that. I assisted with the course during my post-doc and graduate school and was even an undergraduate learning assistant after taking the course myself! I love teaching this class and hope we can all have a great experience this summer!
Dr. Henley’s Approach to Teaching
My approach to teaching was greatly influenced by work with my graduate advisor, Lynwood Clemens. Lyn, nearing the end of his academic career, discovered new methods of instruction shown to increase student learning. He did not hesitate to reformat his course, knowing that these changes would promote student success. Lyn introduced me to education research and demonstrated the importance of incorporating evidence-based practices into my instruction. My current teaching methods have built upon this strong foundation and center students and their learning by creating an inclusive classroom and basing pedagogy choices on evidence.
My courses are structured to rely on student-student and student-instructor interaction; it is imperative, therefore, to create an environment that is trusting and open. Students from marginalized groups often feel disconnected, alienated, or oppressed in typical college classrooms. As Pacansky-Brock, et al1 state, “Learning environments are not neutral; rather, they often operate to reinforce a worldview that minoritizes some students.” Being inclusive recognizes that each student brings their own viewpoint, experiences, and social identity to the classroom. My goal is to create a learning environment where all students feel supported and can succeed academically. I accomplish this through humanizing, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and equitable grading.
Using evidence-based practices in the classroom creates a powerful learning environment where students can improve skills needed to succeed after graduation. I accomplish this by creating learning goals that focus on science practices outlined in the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Educationpublication2 and that focus on skills employers look for in college graduates according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)3. I then create authentic assessments aligned to these learning goals4.
“Student success” was not a concept I had encountered before Lyn showed me that pedagogical changes could improve student learning. Many years later, I have built on the foundations laid in graduate school and take pride in my goals for learning in my classroom. Through creating an inclusive class climate and using evidence-based pedagogy, I believe I am successful at creating welcoming digital and in-person spaces that promote student engagement and motivation, leading to improved student learning and success.
1Pacansky-Brock, M., Smedshammer, M., & Vincent-Layton, K. (2020). Humanizing online teaching to equitize higher education. Current Issues in Education, 21(2).
2National Research Council (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press
3National Association of Colleges and Employers (2020). Job Outlook 2020 at naceweb.org.
4Wiggins, G. P. and McTighe, J. (2005) Understanding by Design. Alexandria, Va, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Brown, Peter C. (2014). Make it stick: the science of successful learning. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Eyler, J. (2018). How humans learn: The science and stories behind effective college teaching. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press.
Feldman, J. (2019). Grading for equity: What it is, why it matters, and how it can transform schools and classrooms. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin, a SAGE Company.
Gannon, K. M. (2020). Radical hope: A teaching manifesto. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press.
Tobin, T. J., & Behling, K. (2018). Reach everyone, teach everyone: Universal Design for Learning in higher education. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press.