Jennifer Rogalsky



Teaching Philosophy

As a professor of Geography at a liberal arts college, I want my students to think critically, to learn about the world around them and be able to apply what I teach to real-world situations, to be engaged in the course material and concepts, to write with clarity and purpose. I read this list, and think of more to add, and wonder how I can be all things to all students? Students have different levels of engagement in different classes, and different levels of motivation. So, what I can do is facilitate their learning and open up as many opportunities as I can for all students? This can take many forms, as there are so many different types of learners. Thus, my classes utilize lecture, video clips, full-length films or documentaries, debate, discussion, role-playing, small-group work, case studies, peer review, student-led classes, and more. I also value high-impact practices like student-faculty research collaboration, service learning, and field experiences. Not only do the students enjoy the variety, but by varying classroom dynamics, hopefully every student can be engaged, and know that all learning styles are appreciated.

As much as I want them to be excited about learning, I also want to be excited about what I am teaching. This involves always keeping up on current events and current issues in the content area that I’m teaching. I think it is critical that I keep learning along with the students. If I am teaching the class with enthusiasm and a passion for the material, students notice and become more engaged, thus learning more. I was recently told, “I feel like I did well on your exam, because even though there was so much material, it just all made sense to me. It wasn’t like another exam I just took where I pretty much had to fill in the blank with things the professor made us memorize.” This was really satisfying to hear, as I’d like to think that I had a big part in making sometimes complex or confusing material approachable and having it “make sense.”

I do set the bar high for my students, but I always give thorough and constructive feedback to help them improve and leave my class prepared for other classes, and the “real world.” Just as I am part of this faculty fellows group, to continue learning about and improving my teaching, students’ learning also never ends. Hopefully through the dynamic way I try to teach, I am helping to set students up to continue questioning, thinking critically, and learning beyond the classroom.

For additional information on my work in the Fellows Program, please see my report on Role Play in Stakeholder Groups for Local Planning Issues in Geography 201:  Introduction to Urban and Regional Planning.