Rafael Arias

Romance Languages

rarias@uoregon.edu | 541-346-4106

Courses: SPAN 308: Bilingual Communities

In my classes you will:

  • Learn with and from peers.
  • Explore new perspectives.

I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:

  • I participated in the UO Summer Teaching Institute.

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

The best ways to facilitate learning is by working with all students at a personal level (whenever possible) by paying attention and patiently working with each of them. These practices, I have experienced, have proved crucial components for facilitating learning because they promote a positive behavior and reaction from students who feel welcomed and thus become more willing to participate and interact in the classroom in a friendly, respectful and professional manner. This can be achieved, for example, by frequently communicating with students, inviting them to visit your office, by learning their names, by letting them make some decisions about class responsibilities, assessment and goals, and by giving them continual one-on-one and in-group constructive and positive feedback and support to help them advance in their ever-evolving abilities.

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

I have participated in the Summer Institutes on Scientific Teaching for several years. I am a consistent participant in the Science Literacy Program Journal Club, so I stay up-to-date on best practices in evidence-based teaching.

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?

I initially worked to produce the flipped class structure after reading the research showing that this approach consistently improves student outcomes in comparison to traditional lecturing. I have subsequently modified my class structure in response to additional research. For example, I originally had students in randomly assigned groups to encourage networking among the diverse groups represented in the student body; however, subsequent research showed that such arbitrary groups negatively impacted the learning of women and members of underserved minorities, so I now allow students to pick their own groups for half of the class meetings.

Who or what made you choose this discipline?

At the core of teaching and learning is the need to be an informed professional who is continually trying to figure out the best ways to effectively facilitate learning for all students. To that end, continued pedagogical preparation and exploration of the literature for teaching and learning, direct and sustained professional development, and continued sharing of experiences and materials with colleague instructors have been very rewarding and have immensely contributed to my professionalization. For example, the professional preparation I received as a student and continue to explore and deepen, the many practicum meetings I regularly attend for second year Spanish, the workshops I attended and training I received from the dynamic Spanish as a Heritage Language (SHL) group, and the many workshops and training session the University offers and I have attended, have proved very rewarding and continue to shape my vision as to who I am as a language and culture facilitator. My last workshop I attended was the UO Summer Teaching Institute where I had the opportunity to continue learning about the challenging, but at the same time, fulfilling endeavor that is teaching effectively in a diverse and ever evolving academic environment.