Todd Egan, Ph.D.
Professor of Biology, Division of Mathematics & Natural Sciences at Elmira College
From Horseheads, NY
I enjoy teaching because it gives me an opportunity to interact with students and is a logical extension of the research I have accomplished. My teaching philosophy is to present material in a straightforward manner and encourage students to think about the material presented in lecture. My goal is not to have students memorize facts or steps in a process such as cellular respiration, but to have them grasp the entire concept being taught. In this manner students will not only be presented with the necessary scientific information, but will also have the opportunity to synthesize information for themselves, a skill needed in all aspects of life. If a student has an in-depth understanding of respiration, then they will find it much easier to learn the counter-process of photosynthesis. I do not think it serves any purpose to weed out students, but if the introductory course is too easy then students will be set-up to fail in later courses and a variety of qualifying exams (MCATs, GREs, etc.).
I strive to be an approachable instructor who reaches out to students in the classroom so that they feel that they are part of the learning process, and my student evaluations indicate my successful attainment of these goals. I feel this is especially important in laboratory situations where not all students are comfortable with hands-on material. However, I have learned that students must meet an instructor halfway in order to reach their goals as a student. I believe my willingness to encourage class participation is why I was acknowledged by the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University as an Outstanding Teaching Assistant.