Full details of my teaching and mentoring experience can be found here. Student evaluations can also be provided upon request.
In my time as Visiting Assistant Lecturer at the University of New England during the 2017-2018 academic year I taught six sections of ENV104: Introduction to Environmental Issues and one section of ENV398: Pathways of Pollution. Since this was compiled in the spring semester, the snippets of student evaluations included here are from just my four fall sections of the Introduction to Environmental Issues course. This course is a required core class for a majority of the students at the University of New England.
During the fall at a mid-semester check-in I asked my students to describe our class in one word. This is a word cloud of their answers.
I also wanted to include a select few quotes from official student evaluations.
Professor Heenehan was amazing, for lack of a stronger word. She was informative, passionate and was very effective in conveying this as well as building a passion within her students. She was great at team building, lots of group work and “in the field” activities throughout the course were wonderful in helping us to reach our full potential of understanding the material …
I enjoyed Dr. Heenehan very much, she made this class super exciting and engaging. As well she altered the class to fit our needs and gave us fun activities to do that allowed us to really dig deep into the course material. I loved how passionate she is about her subject of teaching and it made me enjoy the class so much more. She is a good example of someone who truly loves what she does and that is something to look up to.
Lastly, this was a piece of feedback I got from a student in her last assignment, outside the official evaluations.
Through this class I have learned that the best way to make a difference is to share my knowledge with others. This is exactly what I plan to do. At the start of this class I was struggling because I am quiet. I never verbally stood up for my beliefs, but instead I would just go with the flow while silently berating myself. When my family would talk about how climate change isn’t real or is just a conspiracy, I wouldn’t know what to say. After taking this class, I feel confident, even when I’m struggling with shyness, that I could finally stand up for the truth. From now on, I will be able to stand up for planet earth. No one can ever take what I’ve learned from this class away from me. For once in my life I can stand face to face with a giant, look him dead in the eyes, and tell him that we are killing our planet. But I could do more than leave it at that. I could tell him that there is hope. And because of this I am always going to be thankful for you. Without you, I would still have no voice.
In my time as a Ph.D. student I have been the TA for eight classes and co-instructor for Marine Megafauna Spring 2015. This is a summary from the 168 pages of student feedback I have accumulated from these experiences which can be provided upon request.
From my end of course TA evaluations, in response to the question, “Overall what were the TA’s strengths/things you liked?” One student wrote, “I liked that you made a clear effort to learn everyone’s names and always brought tons of enthusiasm to the classroom.” Another student cited “excellent teaching skills” calling my approach “interactive and engaging” while another wrote I was “interested in facilitating learning and success.”
From the Megafauna (2015) evaluations, the responses to the most valuable part of their learning experience in my classroom included, “the variety of teaching methodology,” the “personal connections” and “real life examples.” Jigsaw discussions, which one student noted “helped me improve communication skills,” and Skyping with other experts were two of the students’ favorite activities. Students wrote that the use of Skype was, “Really cool and unique” and I’ve never had a prof do them before.” With regards to improvement, one of the areas students recognized in my second evaluation was an improvement in pace, noting that I was going more slowly through the material which helped students improve their learning.
Overall, their feedback showed me that they responded well to the personal connections but also the innovative and high tech teaching techniques I implemented throughout the course. As a further call for more innovation one student wrote because “you are so open to videos/jigsaws etc., don’t supplement w/ boring powerpoints. This class would be a good one to learn through group projects.”
Some adjectives my students used to describe me were friendly, excited, approachable, knowledgeable, helpful, enthusiastic, understanding, professional and engaging.
I was awarded the Duke University Graduate School Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in Spring 2016. The review committee of deans, graduate faculty, staff, and graduate students chose me from a highly competitive pool of nominees to receive this award, which recognizes two graduate students who best exemplify the characteristics of effective college teaching.