Visiting Teaching Assistant Professor,
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Dr. Lilian Chimuma is a Visiting Teaching Assistant Professor for quantitative research methods at the Korbel School of International Studies where she primarily teaches introductory statistics courses (Statistical Methods I and II). Dr. Chimuma graduated from the Research Methods and Statistics Program the University of Denver and has a master’s in integrated mathematics from Miami University and a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Nairob. Her teaching focuses on the use and application of quantitative and mixed methods research in interdisciplinary contexts, with an emphasis on critical inquiry. Her research interests center on critical methodologies including culturally sensitive, indigenous, and equitable research and evaluation methods in interdisciplinary contexts with an emphasis on social justice.
Describe a change to your general teaching practice as a result of the pandemic that worked well or better than expected.
While I go into each course with a plan, I have maintained an open mind where I still allow students to make decisions about certain aspects that they feel will mostly benefit them. For example, when I taught Statistical methods I for the first time, the course was scheduled to be fully asynchronous. When I noticed that many students were struggling, I made a compromise after checking in with them to schedule limited synchronous session primarily focused on addressing content for specific topics. This helped to boost confidence for many of the students going forward.
Describe a change to classroom activities or assignments that worked well or better than expected.
In my Statistical methods course (Statistical Methods II) course, which was partially synchronous and asynchronous, I noticed through an early check in poll that students in one section preferred a different structure/ organization of content in Canvas. I was surprised by this request, but because of the number of requests for this, I made a compromise and responded to their request. I was surprised by the change this made in the subsequent weeks! Students were more comfortable and felt that they could find things they needed more easily. Overall, I believe that making students “teach” me what works best for their learning has been a great but surprising lesson in my first year of teaching.
What change/s have you made to your teaching practice during the last year that you anticipate continuing beyond the pandemic?
I would like to continue to encourage students to take ownership of their own learning. I believe students have been socialized to always rely on the teacher as a source, a guide, and a planner. If there is one thing I have learned through this experience, which “luckily” was during the pandemic, is to encourage and support students to realize that they have so much power in influencing their own learning and education when they are involved than when they rely on the instructor. Of course, the Instructor is the key resource, but giving students more power should yield more and more meaningful experiences.
To do this, I want to keep finding ways and means to keep students engaged and motivated in different learning modes and contexts. Students’ needs are always changing, so I must keep learning from others and from new resources on teaching.