Trustees Success Story

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Culture: The Human Mirror

This week I visited Professor Vine who teaches the course Culture: The Human Mirror. When I asked him about his strategies as a Professor, I was once again shocked by the answer. He told me cutting edge technology didn’t play a big role in his classroom, he actually preferred older methods. This is why Prof. Vine uses the overhead projector to teach most of his classes. He believes it is better than PowerPoint and it is easier for him to use. Although he uses the overhead projector quite often, Prof. Vine says he uses “a mix of various teaching strategies”. He therefore also uses videos, but most importantly conversations and questioning strategies are the ones that take up a big part of the class time. When I asked about his class size he told me that even though there were 40students, the class still managed to have engaging conversations where all the students participated.

After talking about his class we started discussing the general education here at American University and how he thought his class reached its goals. First of all, he defined three specific ways on how he tried to incorporate the goals. First, he includes contemporary issues in all his classes so that the students are aware of current events and the world they live in. Second, he makes his classes writing intensive which helps the students practice their writing and develop skills that help them express their ideas clearer through paper. Finally, he engages the students as active learners making them involved in class though their opinions, comments and beliefs. Prof. Vine further tries to convey an introduction to anthropological ways of thinking so that students gain a different perspective on daily events. He encourages his students to look at issues and topics through perspectives of race, gender, poverty etc.

Overall, Prof. Vine believes that general education works to create more informed human beings that can solve problems through many different angles. However, he thinks all students should have a liberal arts education where the program doesn’t require students to take certain courses but rather it encourages them to have exposure to a field outside of their own.