Sample Classroom Activities

Midterm Self Evaluation:  I use metacognitive activities to monitor and incentivize student participation. Midway through the semester, I ask my students to grade their participation and explain both how they could better participate, and how I could better facilitate their participation. Once prompted, students recognize and take ownership of the quality of their participation. This activity prompts higher quality participation and provides a good reference point for grading overall participation

Standards of Knowledge Discussion: When I teach skepticism and epistemology in Introduction to Philosophy, I use a clip from 12 Angry Men to facilitate a discussion on different standards of knowledge. I find that comparing legal standards for a conviction to standards for knowledge helps students to understand the subtle differences between different philosophical ideas about knowledge.

“Philosophy is dead” Discussion: Many students do not accept that philosophy is necessary to science. I confront these presuppositions on the first day of my Introduction to Philosophy of Science class by showing YouTube video in which Stephen Hawking declares that “Philosophy is dead!”. By shocking them into a debate about the value of philosophy, I am able to engage them in the activity of philosophical inquiry. Through this activity, my students begin to recognize that it is philosophical skills, and not scientific ones, that allow is us to answer questions like these.

Extracting Arguments from Written Text: At the beginning of many of my classes, I spend time helping students understand arguments that are found in a variety of sources. This is the first in this series of activities. I generally vary the textual examples to match what the students are reading in a particular course. Subsequent activities teach students various ways to evaluate arguments and how to summarize arguments in prose.