“Talk to your neighbor.” It’s a common phrase in Taylor Smith’s classes at Missouri State University.
As a graduate teaching assistant, Smith collaborates with multiple classes in the department of psychology. If you sit in on one of them, you won’t see the traditional lecture style of teaching you might expect. Instead, Smith’s classes are full of chatter and activity.
“I believe students should focus more on content than what they need to do to receive an A,” said Smith. “I want students to interact with the material.”
As a student, Smith noticed some of her peers struggled to absorb course content because it was not engaging enough. To combat this challenge, Smith works to build a safe and inviting atmosphere for class discussion and interaction.
“Small group activities give quieter students a chance to voice their own thoughts and insight,” said Smith. “Additionally, they allow students to work out their thoughts before they share them with the whole class.”
Smith’s style has paid off for both her students and herself. This year, she received the Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award from Missouri State’s Graduate College and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools.
“My approach pushes students to interact with their peers in a meaningful way by using examples from their own life,” said Smith. “Awarding participation credit to students when they contribute, instead of focusing on right or wrong responses, encourages deeper learning and understanding.”
For more information, contact Smith.