Dr. Rose Baker

Our January 2019 Teaching Excellence Spotlight awardee is Dr. Rose Baker, Assistant Professor in the Department of Learning Technologies. A lifelong educator, Dr. Baker has been teaching since she was a child when she taught her sibling and other neighborhood children how to count and has not stopped since.

Picture of Dr. Rose Baker.

“Her students know that her door is always open and that, after you walk in, Dr. Baker will not let you walk out until she has both answered all of your questions and put you back on track.” – Jennie Johnson, a current student who nominated Dr. Baker

How long have you been teaching?

Teaching has been part of what I have done for most of my life. I have been teaching professionally for 31 years. I had been a tutor for eight years before I walked into my first classroom. Teaching was also part of growing up as I taught my neighbor’s daughters and my younger sister how to tie their shoes, count, say their alphabet, and read before they all went to kindergarten.

What classes have you taught/do you teach at UNT?

Here at UNT I teach project management in applied technology performance improvement; evaluation and accountability in applied technology, secondary data analysis in learning technologies, and the research seminar for doctoral students. I have taught entrepreneurship and performance improvement, research techniques in applied technology and training, research capstones for master’s degree students in workforce learning and performance, and independent studies for master’s and doctoral degree students.

How have you worked on developing your teaching skills?

In 2016, I participated in the CLEAR Course Design Institute. Even though my doctoral degree is in instructional systems, the CDI offered a wealth of information to help me develop a solid foundation for the secondary data analysis course. This helped me to develop and teach a course that is complex yet attainable in a single semester.

Did you ever take formal classes or trainings on teaching in graduate school? What about later on in your teaching?

Prior to seeking the master’s and doctoral degrees, I was required to complete 24 credits related to teaching and student engagement as a requirement for my Instructional II Certification to teach in the public school. This covered many topics related to student motivation, feedback formation, classroom management, and creative ways of using technology to support educational objectives.

As for later in my teaching, I very much enjoy participating in massive open online courses (MOOCs). I participated in several that were related to instructional design models and instructional development. I have also participated in MOOCs as a way to look at the instructional design and student engagement to inform how I design classes and interact with students in an online environment.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced teaching, and how did you overcome them?

Some of the biggest challenges to teaching are engaging and motivating students who can be classified as Black Swan events in education. A Black Swan event is one that either happens when you do not expect it to happen or doesn’t happen when you expect it to happen. A Black Swan event in education is when a learner you expect to understand the material just doesn’t understand or when a learner gets the information quickly and then is bored because there is no challenge to the content.

A way to address Black Swan events in education is to use adaptive education. I have been exploring the design of courses that have used adaptive education and the programming behind personalizing learning. I am working to develop a course that uses adaptive education techniques so that students classified as either type of Black Swan event will have the materials and information necessary to scaffold their learning or provide the desired challenge in the course.

How would you describe your approach to teaching?

My approach to teaching is to provide a safe place for students to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and apply what they have learned in a way that helps grow their confidence and knowledge. My philosophy of education is based upon the idea that learners can master a topic given enough time and effort from their participation and my guidance. I often describe my teaching style to students as they are like little birds in the nest, and I am helping them strengthen their wings so that they can fly. Being in my classroom and the support that I give them is the safety of the nest and soon they will be able to take off on their own. The core element to my approach to teaching is that I communicate to the students that I believe in them, and the scaffolds that they might need will be available.

What resources do you find most helpful to your teaching practice?

I have a shelf full of books in my office that have been informative; however, the most valuable resources that have been most helpful to my teaching practice have been other teachers. I learn from their experiences by talking with them and listening to their successes and failures in the classroom. The team-based activities and talking with the others in the CDI were highly informative. Since participating, I have made appointments to talk with CLEAR instructional designers about best practices.

Another way to acquire these stories is through publications and webinars. I receive alerts for new articles about adaptive learning and personalized learning environments about once a month. For the webinars, I registered for communication from leading companies that produce adaptive learning environments and have participated in their events to observe what others have done.