301 University Blvd.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
I have been with the IUPUI School of Social Work in the Department of Labor Studies since August, 2008 and am responsible for teaching and coordination of credit and non-credit classes within the Department of Labor Studies. Prior to teaching at IUPUI, I was an Assistant Professor of Labor Studies at the University of MO, Columbia and a Labor Education Specialist at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Prior to teaching labor education, I taught English literature and writing at Missouri State University and Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.
I received my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of MO, Columbia, an MA in Public Affairs from the Harry Truman School of Public Affairs, University of MO, Columbia , an MA in English from Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, MO, and a BS in English from Drury University in Springfield, MO. I am a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha, Labor and Employment Relation's Association (LERA), Canadian Industrial Relations Association (CIRA), Working Class Studies Association (WCSA), American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and American Association of University Women (AAUW).
Area of Interest:
My research agenda revolves around my interest in policies concerning workers' (re)entry into the workforce, workers’ education, union organizing, and the online delivery of courses: these interests informs my teaching and are closely tied to my service activities. The social justice focus of my research directs my interest in service industry workers in the Indianapolis, Indiana hotel industry, policies relating to state and federal training programs for dislocated workers, and worker education programs which contribute to an informed citizenry.
My teaching philosophy continues to evolve as I interpret and reinterpret teaching and learning theories and pedagogies, interact with students and colleagues in an online environment, and engage with and utilize new and different teaching and learning technologies. The act of teaching, once considered an art, has morphed from a one-way transmission of information in which an omnipotent professor waxed eloquently before a large classroom of knowledge-thirsty students in the hope that some bit of wisdom might lodge itself in their brains into a multi-dimensional transmission of data, knowledge, and information facilitated by an instructor, mentor, or coach and mediated by a learner with his or her own experiences and education. This swirling vortex of teaching and learning takes place in various real and virtual environments, utilizes different learning tools, and results in many faceted ways of understanding and knowing. The art of teaching then has changed from a one directional activity with the teacher at the center and the learner on the periphery into a multi-dimensional interactivity with the teacher, the learner, and other stakeholders mediating, reinterpreting, and massaging information resulting in new meanings and innovative ways of doing which result in different outcomes for all stakeholders.
Most of my life has been spent striving to achieve equality for workers in the labor-management relationship which consistently favors management over labor. The time I spent working in a unionized manufacturing arena and in teaching labor education or labor studies in the academy has uniquely qualified me to lead in a curriculum which deals with issues of social justice for workers. My passion as a union representative to correct injustices workers experienced helps shape my teaching philosophy. My students either are or will become workers in a capitalist economic system skewed against them through policies and laws which tilt the playing field toward management. Offering labor courses which deal with history, globalization, society, culture, ethics, collective bargaining, and leadership positions potential workers for the realities of today’s economic climate and provides to them a solid foundation from which to make choices and decisions affecting their work lives and the kind of broader community in which they live. Situating my teaching philosophy within an interactive constructivist framework allows me to use my experiences as a worker, union member, and an instructor to follow, engage with, and lead my students.
The underlying psychological theory of constructivism (Piaget, 1970) which places the learner at the center of learning while the instructor acts as a facilitator or advisor, still undergirds my basic teaching philosophy. In the design and delivery of curriculum, I strive to mediate, interpret, and revise information into new meanings thus transforming “beliefs, attitudes, opinions, and emotional reactions” (Mezirow, 1991, p. 223) into new and meaningful perspectives. This requires creating an environment focusing on critical thinking, thoughtful debate, and collaboration which allows for the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of new information. This pedagogical framework is the “essence of the constructivist approach” in which the “learner’s search for meaning through activity is central” (Mayes, 2004, p. 43).