Teaching Philosophy

The substance and methods of my research program have influenced my approach to teaching. As an applied researcher, I view psychological theories and modes of inquiry as tools to explain and interrogate the dynamics of everyday experience, the intricacies of current events, and the perpetuation of enduring social problems. As a community-engaged researcher, I view course content as a platform for students’ increased awareness and participation in local issues, initiatives, and organizations. My teaching goals and strategies are firmly grounded in the content and applied aims of my research: To promote science engagement, political participation, and social justice. To these ends, I bring to bear critical, feminist, and social justice pedagogies on my teaching vision and practices.

Science Engagement: Learning through Action

 

Strengthening science engagement in the classroom means avoiding what Freire termed the “banking” approach to education—treating students as passive recipients of knowledge—and adopting an interactive and collaborative approach to teaching and learning. In my laboratory courses on social psychology research methods, students worked in small groups to develop and carry out all phases of a research study—from developing a research question, choosing an appropriate methodology, and undergoing ethics review to collecting and analyzing data, interpreting and writing results, and presenting their research to a public audience. As active research teams engaged in scientific inquiry, students participated in weekly discussions about the nature of science, the process of social psychological research, and the role of science in society.

Political Participation: Education as Prefigurative Praxis

 

Like research, education is not politically neutral. Rooted in my research on prefigurative social movements, which aim to transform systems of power by altering everyday practices, I view education as a form of prefigurative praxis: The classroom is a space for open dialogue, self-reflection, and critical evaluation of social and psychological topics with reference to experiences and observations beyond the classroom. Using digital photography to capture gendered phenomena, students in my psychology of gender courses were tasked with “Finding Gender” in their lives, and interpreting its meaning and implications. An optional assignment in these courses involved publicly violating a gender norm and critically reflecting on the experience in relation to course content. Evident during classroom discussions was students’ deepened awareness of the personal as the political.

Social Justice: Centering the Margins

 

As a woman, first-generation college student, and social justice researcher, I value and encourage diverse perspectives in my classroom and I prioritize constructive exchange. Against this backdrop, social justice principles are infused into course content through the examination of privilege and oppression, as rooted in culturally-entrenched biases and beliefs as well as sociopolitical processes and structures. Twice in my gender course, I took an intersectional approach to the teaching of privilege through a hands-on activity in which students circulated the room visiting ‘identity stations’ (e.g., race, class, sexuality), where they were granted or denied rewards (e.g., candy) based upon their privileged or marginalized group membership. Thorough debriefing and discussion followed, exploring social constructions of difference as well as the meaning of rewards in the context of students’ various positions of power and marginality. Later in these courses, students were encouraged to research and engage with on-campus and community organizations with social justice missions.

In all courses, I offer multiple ways for students to engage with psychological concepts and one another by incorporating media and technology, collaborative activities, and applied projects. I have received extremely positive evaluations in all of the courses I have taught, regardless of their setting, size, or the controversial nature of their content. In sum, by integrating my applied social and community-based research commitments with critical pedagogical strategies in the classroom, I offer students both global and local perspectives: A global view draws connections between psychological research and social institutions (e.g., science, politics), while a local lens clarifies the contours of individual experience and everyday life. Taken together, I aim to equip students to better understand—and work to improve—the world, their relationships, and themselves.

Courses Taught:

 

Social Psychology Research Methods Lab (Spring, 2014; Fall, 2014)

          Department of Psychology, Colorado State University

Psychology of Gender (Fall, 2012; Fall, 2013)

           Department of Psychology, Colorado State University

Teaching Interests

 

I am prepared to teach Social Psychology; Environmental Psychology; Sustainability Psychology; Community Psychology; Psychology of Social Movements; Research Methods in Psychology; Qualitative Research Methods; Action Research Methods; Program Evaluation

© 2017 by Carlie D. Trott

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