TEACHING

 

 

TEACHING AREAS

  •  Medical Sociology

  • Social Psychology

  • Health, Illness and Society

  • Research Methods

  • Introduction to Sociology

  • Race and Ethnicity

  • Inequality

 

 

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY AND EXPERIENCE
 

I seek to help students leave class with a deep understanding of the interplay between individuals and larger
institutional, structural, and historical contexts. To achieve this goal, I draw on three complementary instructional
strategies: 1) inquiry-based learning; 2) case study method; and 3) project-based learning. Having held different
types of teaching positions helped refine the use of each one of these pedagogical tools. This combined approach
helps students critically evaluate and apply sociological theory and research to their everyday lives. Below you
will find a list and description of my teaching experience.

 

Instructor, Introduction to Sociology and its Methods, Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning
Excellence (PEOPLE), UW-Madison, Summer 2012

The PEOPLE Program is a pre-college scholarship pipeline for students of color and low-income students. It prepares
students to apply, be successfully admitted, and enroll at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students participate
in internships and attend seminars taught by graduate students that help them explore potential academic interests.
I constructed my summer seminar, “Introduction to Sociology and its Methods,” to introduce students to sociological
topics and concepts. I blended inquiry-based and project-based learning to teach this course. Adapting my lesson plan
based on the questions that my students had. I started the course by providing a general overview of important
disciplinary topics and theories, using questions—conceived by me at the start of each class and questions that students
raised throughout the course.  I also drew on project-based learning by introducing students to research design and
qualitative fieldwork. The students then learned how to design their own research project and went outside of the
classroom to conduct fieldwork at various locations, using different qualitative methods to gather data. The seminar
ended with students analyzing their data and discussing what they gleaned from their analysis.

 

Teaching Assistant, American Racial & Ethnic Minorities, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
Sociology Department, 2014, Instructor: Jason Nolen

This course is an introductory sociology course that fulfills both the ethnic studies requirements at the University
of Wisconsin-Madison. The class provided 300 students introductory lessons on race and ethnicity in the US context.
We covered a range of sociological themes that directly related to the social construction and maintenance of race
in the United States. Students learned and explored the social structures that shape and are shaped by race, ethnicity,
and racism. As a teaching assistant, I prepared five discussion sections twice a week for 100 students. Drawing on
inquiry-based learning, I carefully crafted questions to introduce, identify, or unpack difficult sociological concepts.
My role was to introduce questions, steer the conversations, and manage information by adding to answers or extending
explanations when necessary. While I did use my own content-related questions, I also asked students to email me
three questions about readings before discussion sessions as part of their participation grade. Since we met twice a
week, I could dedicate time to their questions to guide the discussion, integrating my own questions when necessary.

 

 

Teaching Assistant,  Survey of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Sociology Department,
2011-2012 (3 semesters), Instructor: Joseph Conti

This course provided a general survey of the field of sociology—its subfields, theoretical traditions, research methods,
and specialized areas of research. The class also fulfilled the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Communications-B
requirement, which focused on intensive writing. As a teaching assistant, I was responsible for running sections twice
a week, 50 minutes per section. By blending the use of both inquiry and project-based learning, my discussion sections
were geared to help students engage difficult and new material through activities, group discussions, readings, and
writing assignments. I reviewed and discussed readings and concepts using questions that I carefully crafted each week,
while also including questions students sent me as part of their participation grade, to unpack difficult subjects and
concepts. I also helped students develop their writing skills. I devoted one section each week to develop and advance
each student’s skills in critical reading, logical thinking, and the use of appropriate conventions in a scientific and
academic style of writing. We also worked on evaluating and using appropriate evidence, practiced speaking in public,
and devoted time to learning about core library resources. By drawing on project-based learning we worked on honing
writing skills with five short writing assignments (800 words max) that were worth 20% of their grades. This provided
an opportunity for each student to receive feedback on their writing and worked towards helping them develop a research
paper (worth 25% of their grade) that was due at the end of the semester.

 

 

Guest Lecturer, Community Organizing in Urban Areas & Schools, University of Texas-Austin, Department of Curriculum
and Instruction (Graduate Seminar), 2016

 

Using the case-study method, I organized a graduate-level unit on community organizing in urban areas. I used four cases of
community mobilization in urban areas—oil refinery pollution, labor exploitation by factory owners, police brutality, and
community garden activists battling the city and state. Each case used a unique mobilization strategy to attend to different
issues with every collective action having varying degrees of success. I divided the 18 students into four groups. Using that
week’s readings, I had each group discuss and analyze the way each community-generated their diagnostic frames, modes of
collective action, and internal conflict resolution. Each group then presented and ran discussions about the community they
discussed. We spent the last 45 minutes of class discussing how each case helps us better the urban political economy of each
particular area and how these cases connected to issues in urban sociology. This teaching method pushes students to go beyond
the rote memorization of names and theories, instead, promoting the use of analytic skills, group communication, and contextual learning.

 

STUDENT COMMENTS
 

If you would like copies of statistical summaries and written excerpts of my teaching evaluations, please contact me at dcortez@utexas.edu.