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Evidence of Teaching

Effectiveness & Impact

I have been teaching face-to-face to courses with minor online components at Mason since 2011. I started designing hybrid courses at Mason in 2012. In 2013, I began teaching fully online courses. Over the course of 10 online sections, I have earned a mean teaching rating of 4.81. Over the most recent four semesters, I have earned a mean teaching rating of 4.89 in the two courses taught (EDUC 615 and EDUC 614). Note that I did not teach in spring 2017 nor spring 2018 due to parental leave and study leave. Both courses that I taught over the span of my last 4 semesters of teaching are courses that I developed into their present online formats, as discussed in Section 3 of this portfolio.

 

My course ratings are consistently higher than both the mean university and CEHD ratings for online courses. I also tend to have a relatively high response rate (67-90%), so I feel comfortable that these ratings are a solid representation of student experiences in my online courses. It’s also useful to note that my students are all practicing PK-12 teachers (from one to 20+ years of teaching experience) so they tend to be keen judges of teaching quality. Click the arrow in each box to see the course evaluation for each course.

Course Ratings

Spring 2016

5.00

15/20 evals completed

Fall 2016

4.92

12/18 evals completed

Fall 2017

4.82

17/19 evals completed

Fall 2018

5.00

13/17 evals completed

Fall 2018

4.75

8/11 evals completed

Student Comments

Student Comments

Students’ comments support their positive learning experiences and outcomes. Below are some of the selected, but representative, comments received via my university course evaluations over the past four semesters. I’ve grouped by themes, but individual comments typically overlap more than one theme.

Feedback

Dr. Dodman is extremely organized and very helpful. I appreciated the time she took to provide extensive feedback on all assignments. I was blown away by the multiple forms of feedback she gave me (videos, comments, emails, etc.) I feel like I truly benefited from this course, and I hope to have this professor again in the future. (EDUC 614 fall 2018)

This is the third class I've had with Dr. Dodman and she truly is a great professor who really pushes you to learn more about yourself as a teacher through the content. I've really enjoyed this class. She gives instant feedback and the course requirements are always clear. (EDUC 615 spring 2016)

Dr. Dodman was extremely wonderful at getting back to me with any questions I had and being open and honest about our assignments. She provided effective feedback that truly helped me to better understand the assignments and course content. (EDUC 614 fall 2017)

Accessibility and Engagement

I really enjoy how Dr. Dodman engages with her learners. Although this was an online class, I felt like she was very present. Through her email reminders, responses to questions, and overall presence online, she is very supportive of her students. I love having her as a professor. I enjoyed our online collaborate sessions and that helped make it a bit more interactive and engaging. (EDUC 614 fall 2016)

Organization

The pacing of the course was really good. The readings, assignments and assessments all supported the learning and ensured that all students can achieve their maximum potential. The instructor always sent us emails that included reminders on upcoming assignments and reminders, as well as tips and instructions on what we need to do. Everything was very clear. (EDUC 614 fall 2018)

Outcomes and learning connections

Professor Dodman took time to relate the readings and materials to the work we are doing every day in our professions. (EDUC 615 spring 2016)

Dr. Dodman has been extremely patient with me, as I have transitioned into the instructional coach role [in my school]. She took the time to truly talk to me, and it was evident that she honestly cared. I have a huge identity shift with the class, and I will never forget Dr. Dodman for her careful attention to my personal and professional issues. (EDUC 614 fall 2018)

The online class was well laid out. It helped that it correlated with my teaching practice. Most of what I was working on in the class could be applied directly to my classroom instruction. The part the proved to be the most beneficial was the formative and summative analysis. Those pieces allowed me to look at my teaching constructively, tweaking my approach to help the students better connect with their peers and the material. (EDUC 614 fall 2017)

Letters of Support
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Letter of Support #1: From Dr. Betsy DeMulder, a senior faculty colleague in my division who has designed and is currently leading a 90% online graduate program for PK-12 practicing teachers. My students are also PK-12 practicing teachers and her insight into how I am designing for this student group’s learning is especially valued. (Click the letter to read it)

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Letter of Support #2: From Victoria Reidenbaugh, graduate student in the ASTL program. Victoria was in two of my fall 2018 courses- one online (EDUC 614) and one face-to-face (EDUC 613). She had the unique experience of having me as instructor a face-to-face and online course at the same time. EDUC 614 was her first online course. (Click the letter to read it)

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Letter of Support #3: From Dr. Nancy Holincheck, a colleague and co-Academic Program Coordinator of the ASTL program. Dr. Holincheck and I joined ASTL at the same time and have collaborated in the development of our online courses.  (Click the letter to read it)

Closing Reflection

I am a learner just as much as a teacher

Compiling the information required for this section was a powerful process for me. Section 4 is essentially a space to provide evidence that all of the intense and ongoing work I presented in Section 3 is actually worthwhile- that it is actually benefiting student learning. Teaching (well) online is a lot of work! Not only is there continuous monitoring of students’ lives in your class, but if you are reflective, there is constant learning (and unlearning) happening on your part as you adapt to students’ changing learning needs. And because the work never ends, we rarely celebrate the positive contributions that we are making every day in students’ lives. It was refreshing and humbling for me to look intentionally at how my online teaching is affecting students’ learning experiences. I reflect-in-action continuously, but standing back and viewing the whole (reflection-on-action) is a more rare bird. Relatedly, while examining this outcome data, I reflected on my journey to get here. There is a pervasive myth in teaching that good teachers are born, not made. It persists despite decades of research to the contrary. But, like all fixed mindsets, it is very inaccurate and, even, dangerous to the profession. Teaching is a craft and I have devoted my life to continuously improving mine. Over the years, I have had to critically reflect on myself and ask very hard questions about my purpose, my expectations, and how I am affording or constraining learning opportunities. When I first began teaching in higher education as a doctoral student, I fell into a common trap for novice teachers- lack of confidence that manifested in rigid student interactions. I had very serious issues with power, namely that I wanted to seem like I had it. I attempted to portray myself as the most knowledgeable and in-charge and in doing so, I failed to build strong connections with my students- so it didn’t matter how much knowledge I had, they were turned off from learning from me. This was a hard lesson and it took time for me to figure it out (which is ironic because a large part of my work with PK-12 teachers is about building strong student-teacher relationships). However, once I let myself acknowledge that I didn’t know it all and didn’t need to, that is when my learning really started. Building strong relationships was the impetus for so much in my teaching- taking risks (and being open with students that I was doing so), communicating with students as people not names on my roster, and eliciting student feedback. During one feedback opportunity I had a student remark that he would be so uncomfortable asking students for feedback. I replied that it can be uncomfortable for sure, especially when something you think is great, students have a different view on. But I’m confident in my craft and I know that it is only in that uncomfortable space that I can learn and continuously improve (after all, learning only happens in your risk zone). I have carried this way of being as a teacher into my online teaching.

 

As is supported by my peer observations, I take great care to be present for my students and as engaged in the class as they are. Of course, there are always areas that don’t click for some students (for instance, students overwhelmingly report high satisfaction with our synchronous Collaborate sessions, but one to two students will report ambivalence or dislike for them). I am open to that feedback which may run counter to the majority because the experience and perspectives of those few students is no less valuable. When specifics are offered as to why students view particular things as beneficial or detrimental to their learning, I add that to my backpack of knowledge to consider when designing/reviewing the next semester and take care to address the issues as possible. However, sometimes despite full consideration, I might not change my practices. For example, this past semester a student basically commented that they do not like interacting with their peers and would prefer a sort of total anonymity in the class to do their work on their own, submit their assignments only to me, and that’s it. While I respect that student’s preference (and actually personally understand it well), it runs counter to my guiding social constructivist perspective of learning, not to mention what we know about effective online instruction. In cases like this, I have to wrestle with my beliefs and expectations. I used this is as an opportunity to ask myself questions to critically reflect on my actions and how they are affecting my students’ learning. While I’m not going to stop holding synchronous class sessions or using critical friends groups, I came out of that experience with stronger self-understanding of why I build in so much peer-peer and teacher-student engagement. It was at this time that I was also taking the CEHD’s Online Teaching Initiative to refresh my skills and in combination with the student’s comment, something clicked that led me to realize that while engagement with one another is essential, maybe there are times when I could back off of discussion boards and utilize more student-content independent engagement in some weeks. This is was a fascinating revelation for me and it is in the forefront of my mind as I design my two new online courses for this summer.


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Respecting myself as a learner has been essential to my success as an online instructor. Reflection is something that I practice, not just teach and research. In one of my courses, Inquiry into Practice, I guide students in developing as critically reflective practitioners whose teaching is always open for tough examination. I cannot teach this course honestly without engaging in such reflection myself. The pyramid I’ve included here gives a rough overview of ‘levels’ of reflection where teachers might engage. The technical is based on ensuring that a+b=c. The contextual recognizes that a+b might not always equal c because context changes things. The dialectical also recognizes that a+b might not always equal c, but with the understanding that whatever the outcome of a+b, it bears questions and study and examination of the role of self in that outcome. I strive daily to live my teaching in a dialectical space where I am interrogating myself and my role in students’ learning opportunities- for better or worse. And ultimately I see myself as bearing responsibility for not just my students’ learning, but for their students as well. The success of PK-12 students via their teachers’ learning is my driving force.

 

 

Never done

In case it hasn't come through, I am passionate about technology and the possibilities that online instructional spaces have to offer! As I look forward, I have two new courses in active online development to be offered this summer. Both of these courses I have taught and developed for face-to-face and translating them to the online arena has required me to see beyond a box of what the courses have been and reimagine what they could be in an online setting. This is not an easy process, and I am using the successes and weak spots of my online teaching experience thus far to guide me. To design one of these courses, my graduate assistant and I have combed the (very limited) literature in cultivating critical reflective practice online and have developed design principles we will then be applying to the course and subsequently studying the outcomes. Aligned with these principles, two specific new-to-me elements I'll be integrating are VoiceThread and student created/led discussions. I'm eager to see where these new courses lead for students, for me, and, since we'll be studying our outcomes, for the field more broadly! 

THAT'S
all!

Thank you for taking the time to review my online teaching life! 

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