Andrew Chiarella (Photo)

Andrew Chiarella

Assistant Professor, Educational Psychology
Athabasca University

Teaching Philosophy

My goal as a teacher is to help students develop knowledge and skills that they can apply in real contexts. That is, I expect that my students will be able to do more than simply repeat elegant definitions and formulae or select the correct answer from a set of four options. The kind of learning I expect involves knowing as much about when a theory, procedure, or skill is applicable as how to apply it. For that kind of learning to occur several conditions must be met.

First, students need to engage in authentic activities, whether reading and summarizing a journal article (or part thereof), analyzing realistic data, or preparing a document or presentation for a particular audience and purpose. Realistic cases and activities are developed for assessments and assignments. For instance, statistics exams require students to comprehend dense, half-page descriptions of research studies, analyze realistic data sets, interpret the results, and craft a concise and insightful report.

Second, students require prompt and useful feedback. A quantitative score by itself is hardly useful. Feedback that arrives two weeks after an assignment was completed is not directed at learning but merely summative evaluation. Therefore, extensive feedback is provided in a timely manner, often based on a detailed marking rubric.

Last, students need the opportunity and motivation to revise or correct errors. The easiest way to accomplish this is to allow for the resubmission of work. Resubmissions are permitted if the work was initially submitted on time and a genuine effort was made to complete the assignment. Additionally, resubmissions are requested from students in cases where the requirements of an assignment were misunderstood or the work shows serious misconceptions.