San Antonio, TX, 78254
Joined on May, 2017
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Education"The University of Texas at San Antonio Environmental Science GPA: 4.00 2004"
ExperienceI have eleven years experience teaching at The University of Texas at San Antonio.
Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching Nominee for the Regent's Outstanding Teaching Award (Non-Tenure Track Faculty)
Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence Nominee (Non-Tenure Track Faculty
Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence Nominee
Chancellor's Council Innovations in Education Award Nominee
Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award (non-tenured)
UTSA Students Honors Convocation Faculty Honoree
HobbiesMy teaching philosophy had its beginnings in 1993, when I was a pre-medical student at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. My first required class, "Introduction to Chemistry," was facilitated by Dr. Delphia Harris. Since Dr. Harris firmly believed that "if you can teach it, then you know it," she assigned various student presentations throughout the semester. After my first student presentation on "How to Balance Chemical Equations," Dr. Harris asked me to stay after class. She then told me: "I know that you are pre-med and I am never one to deter students from their paths, but I must let you know that you have a 'gift' for teaching." I found it interesting that she used the word "gift" to describe the profession of teaching. What did it mean? This conversation led me to a Bachelor's in Science from the University of the Incarnate Word, a Master's in Arts with a focus in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and to a former position as a Senior Lecturer teaching science content courses for the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching for the College of Education and Human Development. My eleven years working with and teaching students from across disciplines have helped me understand what Dr. Harris meant by the word "gift." These gifts come in many forms: the impacts that students have on me as a teaching professional and on my personal growth; the opportunities that I have been given to influence students both professionally and personally; and, most importantly, the gift of watching students enter my classrooms with apathy and/or fear about science content and methodologies and then seeing them leave as confident and engaged teaching professionals. Dr. Harris was correct all those years ago - teaching is truly a gift.
I formerly taught the Earth Systems Science Investigations course (IDS 3224) and the Investigations in Physical Science course (IDS 3234), courses that I completely developed and designed on an e-educational platform called Blackboard. I created these two courses, which feature inventive online integrated lectures and labs, to meet the requirements of a non-traditional student population. They are based on the National Science Education Standards (NSES) for science content, which present criteria for science education. I selected the course topics, laboratory activities, and lecture assignments to reflect the NSES and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for elementary and middle school science curricula.
The innovation of these courses feature hands-on laboratory activities, using household or easily-obtainable materials that directly correlate to inquiry-based lecture assignments employing a multitude of diverse multimedia objects. For example, in one module, students use a cold glass soda bottle, place a quarter on top of the bottle, rub their hands together, and watch as the quarter moves up and down. This demonstrates convection currents that are occurring under Earth's surface and are theoretically responsible for plate tectonics. Students are then required to watch videos on the "Earth's Interior" and "Plate Dynamics." Or, to complete National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) lessons on "Plate Tectonics" and watch animations on "Convergent, Divergent, and Transform Plates." Since these hands-on laboratory activities and multimedia objects encourage various learning preferences and strengths, they allow students to pursue different approaches to learning. These two courses are the only undergraduate online integrated lecture/lab courses in the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching (ILT) and the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) degree program at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). They offer rigorous learning experiences through authentic science laboratory activities and concrete science content knowledge.
These courses are structured to support both teacher-student and student-student interactions, thus providing a foundation for significant science explorations. Discourse plays a critical role in the learning experiences of the students, and a learning community develops in each course as the semester progresses. Furthermore, I invite students to visit weekly with me in the Education Science Labs at UTSA to discuss and investigate any difficult content. These one-on-one interactions with the instructor further enhance their learning experiences and connections with the science content.
Both the Investigations in Physical Science course (IDS 3234) and Earth Systems Science Investigations course (IDS 3224) use integrated models wherein weekly modules of hands-on laboratory explorations precede related multimedia-based lecture assignments due later in the week. Therefore, the hands-on explorations enhance students’ conceptual understanding of the content and emphasize the importance of "learning" science through experimentation. These weekly hands-on explorations and inquiry-based activities teach science concepts in physics, chemistry, and earth systems science using commonly found items on the Internet or in households. Thus, students can easily replicate these science activities and teach the related scientific principles in their own later classrooms.
In this online environment, students must keep up with the weekly modules involving different laboratory activities and conceptual components. Keeping current demands both self-discipline and metacognigition, encouraging students to self-direct their own learning. Furthermore, students use a "Discussion Board" to communicate with one another and with the instructor about any questions or concerns about the course structure or content. Many of these "conversations" and dialogues expose students to different problem-solving skills and approaches.
These courses and others I have taught have been well-received. In 26 courses, my average overall rating by students as an "excellent teacher" on the IDEA survey is a 4.6 (on a 5-point) scale. Representative student comments on the IDEA surveys and from student e-mails include:
• I would like to personally thank you Professor Herber for your knowledge I gained from your class… I wish to tell you that your impact on my education will forever remain. I have learned so much, as well as one huge thing...to ENJOY science, and take time to notice it daily. I also appreciate your kindness, and concern for me as your student. I can only imagine how busy you are with all your classes, and yet you have always been attentive to respond quickly, and made yourself available at all times. I appreciate that very much as a student. That is what I strive for when I switch roles from student to teacher. :) (Blackboard - Fall 2011)
• I would also like to take this time to thank you for a challenging yet fulfilling summer. I was initially afraid of this online physical science course, but with the organized calendar you provided and the resourceful sites you posted I was able to conquer my fear. This summer I grew a new appreciation for science and how it affects my daily living. ... yet through my lab experiments I set 6 little neighborhood kids' hearts on fire for science. And that Professor has been an accomplishment I'm proud of. … you have inspired me to encourage others to get excited about science. (E-mail - 2010)
• ...I wanted to share the good news. I was just assigned a second grade position at J.T. Brackenridge. I thought I would let you know since you helped me get to this point. Thank you a million times over. (E-mail - 2010)
• Professor Herber, I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful semester. Science is my least favorite subject, but I truly enjoyed your class. This is the only science course I have taken at UTSA where I feel I have learned well enough to use the course content and knowledge in the future. I really appreciated your tentative schedule and your organization. Thank you for posting our grades throughout the semester and giving us constructive feedback on the assignments. (E-mail - 2010)
• You are a great professor....Although this class was online you made each student feel their work was valued. Most professors would not mark a paper wrong and then explain it (I love this), but would only mark it wrong. I especially appreciated knowing you looked and responded to every comment posted, it showed you wanted to make sure the material was understood! I have not found many professors at UTSA to be as caring and helpful as you have been. (IDEA - 2010)
• I really like the fact that you made it known you were reading every post. And you thanked the students that helped other students...You seem to be a very caring instructor… (IDEA - 2010)
In addition to student recognition, I have also been recognized by my peers. For example, in 2011, I was asked by Rob Robinson, the Assistant Vice Provost for Distance Learning, to present aspects of a quality, fully-online Earth Systems Science Investigations course to UTSA president, Dr. Ricardo Romo. In 2008 and 2012, I was the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching President's Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching Excellence Award Nominee. In 2007, I was a nominee for the Chancellor's Council Innovations in Education Award and won the Alumni Association Distinguished Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Teaching Award. In 2005, I was a UTSA Students Honors Convocation Faculty Honoree.
In conclusion, I return to my tale about my wonderful Chemistry professor, Dr. Delphia Harris. Dr. Harris gave me an amazing book called "Unbinding Prometheus: Education for the Coming Age," (1988), by Donald Cowan. There is a statement in this book that has guided me through my progression as a teaching professional. It is as follows: "Learning in this sense of absorbing and understanding a whole system, a structure, is highly satisfying. For the student, its mastery is a genuine accomplishment...But the process is not complete in the full sense of learning. Learning must cause a metamorphosis of the person, not merely elevate him - must make him into something different from what he was before....Something new must issue from the learner, something he has not been taught, that has about it a recognizability of authenticity." (pg. 88) This is what Dr. Harris did for me - she transformed my way of knowing about the world, about learning, and most importantly showed me the impact one teacher can have on students. My hope and my ultimate goal is that I do the same for each student that passes through my classroom. I want them to be engaged, to love learning, to transform their ways of knowing and thinking, and to find joy in knowledge and action. This is why my teaching philosophy is so clearly linked to how I design and facilitate courses. I fervently believe that teaching should embrace multiple learning styles, students should feel valued, and most significantly, to appreciate the beauty of the natural world – to see science all around us.
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