“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
My teaching philosophy is a reflection of my experience as a journalism educator and a former international journalist. It is an extension of the juxtaposition of theory and practice in journalism. The various theories of journalism prepare students to understand the concepts guiding the profession. The practical experience of reporting provides them a realistic practice. I strive to impart an equal component of both theory and practice in journalism education. I have noticed that encouraging students to implement theoretical concepts in journalism practice results in limiting their biases.
As an instructor, I aim to enhance student learning and engagement with the course material and prepare them as future members of the “Fourth Estate.” Following epistemologist Jean Piaget’s philosophy of constructivism in learning, I try to create practical assignments including the use of new technological tools, creating teams of reporters and editors and peer reviewing their work. These help them to learn new technology in journalism, develop collaborative and prepare themselves as journalists.
Journalism is not just communicating events to audiences but also analyzing them and providing the information dispassionately. Students preparing for a career in journalism will be asked to report on events that will be read by audiences across the world. My role as an instructor is to help them develop their critical analysis skills to reach out to the global audience, by improving their writing and communication skills.
Ultimately, my teaching goal is to encourage students to focus on their work, enrich their learning experience and prepare them for employment. Nothing is more rewarding to an instructor than experiencing student improvement and success.
The following methods have been facilitated to achieve my teaching goals:
1. Participatory learning – Engaging students in class discussion and participation is challenging. From my teaching experience, I have construed that students lack interest in class participation due to limited feedback, vague participation requirements, and inconsistent participation grading. I try to use class participation productively by providing a structure of class participation, provide participation feedback and grade class participation at regular intervals. I have also constructed a framework of participation in my courses, where students are assessed transparently on their participation. Participatory learning prepares them to contribute in editorial discussions and meetings.
2. Collaborative learning – Journalism as a profession is based on collaboration and active participation and as a journalism educator, I encourage my students to collaborate through group work and peer review their work. Collaborating with their peers in debate teams and written work improves their communication skills and makes them good team players. Peer learning helps in developing their critical thinking and prepare them for team efforts in journalism. I also encourage students to incorporate technology in collaborating learning, for example providing assignments to use analytical websites to analyze news reach and then debate on the analysis. Collaborative learning also helps students to understand the true sense of responsibility by making them realize the importance of deadlines through group work. A key aspect of collaboration is to provide constant and timely feedback to students on their work. I have always tried to provide timely and personalized feedback to each of my students, resulting in a positive shift in their learning curve.
Assessment and Feedback
In addition to university evaluations, I also ask students to complete a self-administered evaluation that is specifically tailored to my course/discussion. I encourage each student to provide candid feedback on best and worst aspects and if assignments and/or readings needed modifications. For instance, after constructive feedback in my first semester, I modified some of the activities in the following semester, which were more positively received.
They are also encouraged to provide inputs on critical thinking if their perspective on media and its functions are better shaped the course. I also take a mid-semester course evaluation to understand their engagement with the course, peers and me. Students value timely and personalized feedback. This is reflected in the following assignments, as they show noteworthy improvement. Students should not just learn the concepts but at the end of the course be prepared to understand them and apply them professionally.
Finally, I take my pedagogical inspiration from the words of Einstein, as an instructor, I try to stimulate creativity and critical thinking in my students in a joyful way. I feel content as an instructor when students convey that they have not only learned and understood new tools and concepts but also enjoyed my teaching.