Kelly L. Watson
I believe that teaching should be more than the recitation of facts. Instruction in the liberal arts must encourage students to think about the world in new ways; it must expand their worldviews and encourage critical thinking skills. The goal of all education should be to help shape the next generation of informed and engaged leaders. I think that interdisciplinarity is fundamental to this. In order for students to be able to transfer the skills and knowledge that they obtain at university to spaces outside of the classroom, it is important that they are able to see connections across disciplines. The creation and passing on of knowledge must not be an isolating experience but should connect students from different backgrounds.
The guiding philosophy of my teaching is that educators ought to empower students and provide them with the necessary tools to assume responsibility for their learning. This is best facilitated in an environment where students are free to engage critically with the material and openly discuss it. In my classroom, students are encouraged to take an active role through class discussions and presentations. I believe that it is crucial for student success, both during and after university, that they are able to effectively analyze texts, synthesize material, and communicate their ideas effectively to their peers. My role is that of a guide, conducting students through the material and demonstrating critical thinking skills. I alternate lectures, student-driven class discussions, and presentations to create a learning environment where individuals can share their ideas safely and comfortably, develop excellent writing skills, and practice critical thinking. I organize my lectures around a question or a concept, not a topic. I encourage students to locate responses and possibilities rather than straightforward answers.
I regularly teach the undergraduate capstone course in Women’s and Gender Studies at WVU. I have partnered with the Feminist Activist collection at the West Virginia and Regional History Center for this course. The students are asked to develop a research project centered around the question of “what is activism”? In their projects, class readings, and discussions, we ask hard questions about how they might enact the changes they wish to see in the world. Their work at the archives gives them a solid grounding in local activist history and politics. This project has been quite successful and demonstrates my commitment to inclusive and community-oriented education in women’s and gender studies.
Teaching does not happen in the classroom alone. Mentoring is foundational to the liberal arts college experience. Forming relationships with faculty is a particularly important aspect of fostering inclusivity and diversity on campus. I have significant advising and mentoring experience, often working with students through their entire academic journey. As a first-generation college attendee, I am particularly sensitive to the challenges faced by this population. I do not assume that a lack of familiarity with the university experience translates into a need for overbearing guidance; rather, I think it is important to empower first-generation students and provide them with the knowledge that they need to navigate college and beyond. I find that helping undergraduates gain confidence to become successful students and professionals is one of the most rewarding parts of my job as university faculty. Thus, I try to balance the very real need that students have to ensure that they are on a path to graduation in the appropriate time frame, while also adding a personalized dimension that enhances their overall university experience. Approaching advising this way fosters a mentor-mentee relationship that is essential to student success at all levels of their education.
Recent Courses Taught
West Virginia University
Feminist Histories and Practices
Men and Masculinities
Sexuality in American Culture
American Experience 1
American Experience 2
Images and Realities of Gender
Sex and Sexuality in America
Feminist Histories and Practices (Spring 2021)
Sexuality in American Culture (Fall 2021)
American Experience I (Fall 2019)
Historical Research (Fall 2019)
Research Assignment, Historical Research
Oral History Assignment, American Women
Debate / Position Paper Assignment, American Experience II