Statement of Teaching Philosophy and Teaching Goals

As an educator in molecular ecology, an interdisciplinary discipline by nature, I had to learn to be a jack-of-all-trades to create and provide an effective and stimulating learning environment that encourages students to be proficient explorers of knowledge, researchers, and practitioners. I am a strong proponent for allowing students to assert themselves and become their own best advocates in their learning to unlock their full potential. The discipline of molecular ecology has had a profound impact on how I teach, where I implement evidence-based procedures that enhance student learning and improve academic performance. As a molecular ecologist and an educator, I strive to be a role model, teacher of skills, and a guide who nurture the development of students as critical and practical thinkers.

In foundation courses, I provide students with structured assignments that enhance their comprehension of the course material, and I demonstrate the applicability of the concepts in resolving real-world problems so that students explicitly understand how the information is used outside the classroom. Whereas in advanced courses, I offer students the opportunity to learn the process of conceiving ideas and mastering the skills necessary to realize a project and to broaden the frontiers of the discipline, and language usage skills to criticize results using an evidence-based approach. In all my courses, I have made the necessary revisions to revamp the course material using the backward course design framework and inclusive teaching. I encourage students to make use of active learning techniques such as concept maps, discussion forums, debates, and peer reviews. I implement formative assessment in my courses where I provide constructive feedback to students on their assignments and the students provide their feedback during the course so that I can make the necessary adjustments to cater for their needs. As students develop into young scientists, I guide them through collaborative projects to teach them the skills to make evidence-based decisions, the ability to compromise, the value of sharing their skills, engaging in an ongoing dialogue of problem-solving, and providing constructive criticism.

My experience in teaching and research has allowed me to grow and continue to grow as a young professional in my discipline. I have learnt to be accepting and comprehend the global view of how the sum of the interactions and instructional opportunities of a student affect their development as researchers and practitioners in the discipline. I have a calm and warm demeanour, expertise in various fields of molecular biology and ecology, responsiveness to feedback, implement inclusive teaching style, all qualities that are optimum for teaching and rapport building. There is always room for improvement, and I always have a positive outlook on improving my teaching and research skills. Furthermore, I embrace advancements in teaching technology and techniques that enhance learning and improve the academic performance of students. I am adaptable and I have a willingness to co-evolve with communication platforms and technology for my teaching and research.

Training 

During the final year of my postdoc, I devote my free time to formal training and networking to refine and advance my teaching abilities.

  • Higher Education Teaching Certificate (2021), Harvard University (Grade: 99.3%)
  • 8th Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners (NCEP) Conservation Teaching & Learning Studio (2021), American Museum of Natural History, USA.
  • Genetics and Society: A Course for Educators (2021), American Museum of Natural History (Grade: 86.72%).
  • UPED650/How to Design and Teach Blended Courses (2021), University of Bergen, Norway.
  • Google Classroom Workshop (2017), Somerset West Private School, South Africa.

 Teaching

High School   Subjects:

  • English (Grades 8 & 9)
  • Mathematics (Grade 8-12)
  • Mathematical Literacy (Grades 10-12)
  • Physical Sciences [Physics & Chemistry] (Grades 10-12)

Higher Education Courses/Modules:

  • Co-Instructor: Introductory Genetics (Genetics 214, Stellenbosch University)
  • Co-Instructor: Molecular Population Genetics (Genetics 324, Stellenbosch University)
  • Instructor: Introductory Molecular Ecology (Reel Science Coalition)
  • Teaching Assistant: Biology 124, Feb-June 2012 (Stellenbosch University)
  • Teaching Assistant: Genetics 244, July-Nov 2012 (Stellenbosch University)
  • Teaching Assistant: Genetics 214, Feb-June 2012, 2013, 2014 (Stellenbosch University)
  • Teaching Assistant: Genetics 245, July-Nov 2013, 2014 (Stellenbosch University) 
  • Teaching Assistant: Genetics 324, Feb-June 2012, 2013 (Stellenbosch University)
  • Teaching Assistant: Genetics 344, July-Nov 2012, 2013, 2014 (Stellenbosch University)
  • Teaching Assistant: Biochemistry 244, July-Nov 2012, 2013 (Stellenbosch University)


Workshop Courses:

  • Elasmobranch Research and Ecology Field Course, Genetic Techniques & Applications in Understanding Biology & Ecology of Elasmobranchs, South African Sharks Conservancy, Hermanus, South Africa, 17-18 August 2015 (Instructor: Practical Component)

Co-Supervision

  • Jessica Winn, M.Sc., Department of Genetics, Stellenbosch University, Current; Global phylogeography and population genomics of the commercially exploited smoothhound shark Mustelus mustelus.
  • Kelvin Hull, M.Sc., cum laude, Department of Genetics, Stellenbosch University, December 2018; Mitochondrial genome assembly and population genetics of the common smoothhound shark, Mustelus Mustelus.
  • Kelvin Hull, B.Sc. (Hons.), Department of Genetics, Stellenbosch University, December 2016; Development of molecular identification methods of houndsharks (Carcharhiniformes: Triakidae) from southern Africa
  • Michelle Soekoe, Ph.D., Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, Rhodes University, March 2016; Adaptations in allopatric populations of Triakis megalopterus isolated by the Benguela Current. Steps towards understanding evolutionary processes affecting regional biodiversity. Phylogeography and Population Genetics experimental chapter
  • Danielle Robbertze, B.Sc. (Hons.), Department of Genetics, Stellenbosch University, December 2014; Testing for cryptic speciation and possible hybridization in southern African catsharks, genus Haploblepharus
  • Charn√© Rossouw, B.Sc. (Hons.), Department of Genetics, Stellenbosch University, December 2013; Characterizing microsatellite markers in the commercially important shark species, Mustelus mustelus (family: Triakidae) and investigating transferability to other species within the order Carcharhiniformes and Rajiformes.