University of Hawai'i, Hilo

Communication Department

  Catherine Becker, Ph.D.





Teaching Philosophy

My approach to teaching communication includes both theoretical as well as applied learning. All of my courses introduce students to relevant theories and research in the discipline and include assignments, exercises and discussions that are designed to enable them to apply what they are learning to actual and hypothetical communication situations. My early years at the University of Hawaii at Hilo have enabled me to learn about the wide variety of student’s and their needs. I believe it is my responsibility to find a way that all students in my classes may learn to the best of their ability in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. I seek to create a class climate where students feel comfortable enough to explore ideas by openly expressing their opinions and feelings. Therefore, I develop assignments and activities that encourage dialogue, creativity, and critical thinking.

In addition to a wide variety of abilities, preparation and availability, I recognize that students at UHH have very different learning styles and I attempt to accommodate them. Learning assessments typically include some combination of quizzes or tests, written assignments, oral presentations, group activities and class participation. I design my syllabi in innovative ways to accommodate the needs of as many of my students as possible, without compromising academic integrity, by incorporating multiple performance measures into my courses. I continually monitor my efforts to achieve the following objectives:

Are my students learning the content I am attempting to teach?
Is the content appropriate to meet the needs of students at UHH?
Am I using the most effective methods?

Can my methods be adapted for the learning styles of all of my students?
In order to meet these objectives and because the field of communication is always changing, is essential to constantly revise and update my course objectives and content. This requires reviewing recent literature in the discipline, comparing my courses to others that are currently being taught at other universities, and translating them into format that will make the relevant information accessible and interesting for students here at UHH. I will become a teacher that is worthy to win the university teaching award.

Perhaps one of the best gifts a teacher can offer her students is to stimulate their curiosity so that they begin to ask their own questions. By encouraging my students to do research, I find that my students are able teach me as I am teaching them. Through collaborations with students, my passion and excitement for research is often renewed as theirs is discovered. When collaborations with students lead to increasing our knowledge about communication, improving the lives of others, and/or expanding the options and possibilities available to the student, I feel that I have succeeded as a professor.

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