Jennifer Rice

American English Institute

Courses: AEIS 102 & AEIS 107

In my courses you will:

  • Practice foundational, transferrable skills.
  • Learn with and from peers.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I am a Herman Award Recipient.
  • I participated in a Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching.

In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?

I teach exclusively international students whose native language is not English. That means I have a very diverse group of learners in my classroom each term, and I strive to make them feel like they all have a lot to contribute to the class. Some ways I do this are by asking them to complete an online “Who are you?” survey at the beginning of each term that asks them questions about where they are from, preferred name, and what interests and skills they bring to the class. This is a survey that only I (the instructor) can see, and it is a way for me to get to know each person as an individual right from the beginning of the course. This conversation has the potential to continue throughout the term, one-on-one, via Canvas. Because the learners in my classes are from various parts of the world, I build in several chances for them to reflect on how relevant experiences here compare to those in their home countries. We tackle controversial issues in one of my courses, and part of the course focuses on how to have a polite, respectful academic discussion so that there is opportunity for everyone to volunteer their perspectives.

What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?

I regularly read The Learning Scientists blog and share it and other relevant Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) articles with my colleagues through my department’s email listserv. I’ve attended the Science Literacy Program’s Journal Club when possible, and been an attendee and facilitator at the Summer Institute on Scientific Teaching. I’ve also done formative observations of others in my department to exchange ideas of how to improve our teaching overall and make lessons more effective for our learners. In addition, I’ve traveled internationally as an English Language Specialist with the US Department of State to share much of the applied SoTL research with English as Another Language instructors in Russia, Costa Rica, and Bolivia.

In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?

My classes are not lecture-based at all, but instead are a combination of individual, pair and small group activities that practice targeted skills that are outlined in the measurable objectives of the course. I use the principles of backward design in my classes, sharing the assessment details (i.e. rubric) with learners at the beginning of each unit. I use Canvas to continue the learners’ practice outside of the classroom and include reflective questions in almost every assignment. I also ask learners to reflect on their test preparation and performance on a regular basis. In addition, since I teach English as a second language, the content of my course is flexible. I choose to focus much of my course content around evidence-based articles and videos that discuss how people learn or effective study strategies like those shared by acclaimed Psychology professor Dr. Stephen Chew from Samford University. Therefore, learners in my classes are not only practicing English listening, speaking, reading, writing, and metacognitive skills, but they are also learning how to learn.

What's one thing that makes you you?

I grew up in the countryside of the Midwest. The nearest town had 900 people in it. Growing up, no one I knew owned a passport or spoke another language. After getting married and graduating from grad school, I moved to South Korea with my husband. He had never left the USA, and I didn’t even really know where South Korea was on the map, but we moved there with two suitcases each, ready for an adventure. It changed my life. Living as a minority in a new culture and struggling to use an entirely new language gave me an incredible perspective that I could not have gained otherwise. It was an invaluable experience that has shaped my career, my hobbies, my cooking, my language, my finances, and my confidence. I urge all people to live in a different culture for a while. It will undoubtedly change your life.