Teaching Philosophy

Through my research, I strive to better understand Earth’s systems and the history of their interconnections through study of the rock record. My goal, in current and future teaching efforts, is to enable students to do the same. The importance of an interdisciplinary approach to advances in the geological sciences demands that the current generation of geoscience students are trained with an approach that combines field-based exposure to geology with the quantitative skills necessary to apply geochemical and geophysical data to problems in the Earth sciences. By crafting meaningful exercises in the classroom, the field, and the lab, I strive to give students the tools to formulate questions about the Earth and enable them to seek answers through the generation of new observations and data.

Students making measurements of foreset thickness and orientation while studying tidally generated bedforms in the Jordan Sandstone of southern Minnesota.

The most rewarding educational experiences are those based around student discovery. I have made it one of my goals as a teacher to construct field-based projects where students are provided with enough guidance and resources so that they are empowered to make independent observations. These projects work best when both the students and myself are in the role of investigator rather than there being a pre-ordained result that I, as the instructor, hold as a “solution.” In order for such student work to be meaningful, students need to develop the skills necessary to analyze such observational data and synthesize their analysis into high-quality writing and graphics.