Current Positions

2015  Instructor for ANP 270: Women and Health: Anthropological and International Perspectives, MSU

2013-2015   Research Coordinator for Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education, MSU

2012-2015  Instructor and Developer for ANP 204: Introduction to Medical Anthropology, MSU

2012-2015  Curriculum Developer for Anthropology, Centers for Integrative Studies in General Science (CISGS), Social Science (ISS), and the Humanities (IAH)

Previous Teaching Experience

2014               Curriculum Developer for ISB 204: Applications in Biomedical Sciences, MSU

2013               Developer/Consultant for Foundations of Science MOOC, Center for Integrative Studies, MSU

2013               Teaching Assistant for Cultural Heritage Informatics Field School in Data Visualization, MSU

2010-2014      Online Course Assistant/Developer (8 courses), Department of Anthropology, MSU

2011               Instructor/Co-developer for ANP 201: Introduction to Sociocultural Diversity, MSU

2009               Course Supervisor (35 sections, 12 TAs), ISB 208L: Applications in Biological Sciences, MSU

2008-2010     Mentor/Facilitator, Teaching Assistant Program, MSU

2006-2009     Instructor for ISB 208L: Applications in Biology and Science and Society, MSU

Awards and Fellowships

2013 PFF-ASL Fellowship, MSU The Graduate School and TA Programs
The Preparing Future Faculty for the Assessment of Student Learning (PFF-ASL) program selects individuals from various departments and offers a series of interactive workshops and breakout sessions. The purpose of this fellowship is to help instructors revise their curriculum around effective student learning and assessment.

2013 Foundations of Science MOOC Development Fellowship, The Gates Foundation
I am currently working with a team of professors and graduate students on a massive open online course (MOOC) which was funded by the Gate Foundation. It will be offered for the first time this summer to an estimated 8,000-10,000 students worldwide. I was also selected to be one of two TA for this course

2013 Certification in College Teaching, MSU School of Social Science
This certification includes an intensive curriculum of workshops and lectures, a mentored teaching project, and the creation of a final teaching portfolio. My mentored teaching project was done under the supervision of Dr. Ethan Watrall and examined the effectiveness of blogging as a tool to increase active learning and build a stronger class room community.

2012 Ron Hart Award for Outstanding Teaching, MSU Department of Anthropology
This prize is awarded each year to an anthropology student who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in teaching anthropology. It is chosen by the chair of the Anthropology department at MSU. The prize for this award was $500.

2010 Teaching Award, MSU Center for Integrative Studies in General Science
I received special recognition from the CISGS for my years of work in their biology and society course, as well as my distinguished leadership role as lab supervisor in 2009. The prize for this award was $650.

2009 Learning Leader Award, MSU Department of Residence Life
The Department of Residence Life conducts a survey among all of their undergraduates and identifies instructors who inspire students academically. I received this award for my work in Integrative Studies as an instructor who successfully motivated non-majors to get excited about the intersections of science and society.

Teaching Philosophy

At its core, Medical Anthropology is an interdisciplinary field of study. It leverages theories and methods across sub-fields to examine humans as both cultural and biological beings. As a result, our field attracts students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, many of whom are intimidated by cultural theory and/or the medical sciences. Whether anthropology students are mulling over the mechanisms of evolution or pre-med majors are grappling with the social construction of race, in my experience, real learning only occurs when students are intellectually challenged. Thus, my goal as an instructor is to foster an environment where my students, regardless of their background, feel confident challenging their own preconceived notions and exploring new ideas. During my seven years of university level instruction, I have witnessed the inability to handle these academic challenges manifest itself as a range of debilitating behaviors – absence from class or lack of participation; procrastination on difficult assignments; emphasis on grades over knowledge; and even academic dishonesty. By (1) establishing confidence through affective learning, (2) building confidence through experiential learning and (3) reinforcing confidence through regular formative assessments, I help my students navigate around these potential pitfalls. This approach is especially effective in introductory courses where students have the lowest sense of self-efficacy due to lack of prior knowledge.

Affective Learning: I have found that the quickest way to establish confidence in my students is to remind them that they each bring something unique to the table. They start the semester with an assignment in which they blog about their expectations of my course and the kinds of expertise they can draw upon to get the most out of this experience. For example, Peter, a human biology major, talked about his budding interest in medical anthropology after he participated in a study abroad trip to Ghana; whereas Emily, a chemistry major who had never left the country or took an anthropology class in her life, wondered if this course could help her understand why her parents had such a hard time finding treatments programs for her autistic younger brother. Throughout the semester, I encourage each of my students to continue personalizing the course by blogging each week about how the materials relate to their professional interests in medicine, as well as their own personal interactions with the medical world. I also make an effort to regularly participate in these public discussions to demonstrate my own willingness to engage with their ideas and make sense of their experiences, anthropologically. These strategies encourage my students to invest themselves in the class, connect to their classmates, and continue their journey through upper level courses in the major. This was the case for both Peter and Emily who, despite their disparate social and academic backgrounds, have decided to pursue minors in Anthropology before applying to medical school next fall.

Experiential Learning: Once my students feel comfortable discussing course concepts and sharing their own ideas with each other, the next step is to start challenging them with authentic learning experiences. For example, students in my course spend one week learning about how to conduct ethnographic interviews with patients in order to construct an illness narrative. They start by analyzing YouTube videos of illness experiences and eventually conduct their own interview with a friend or family member to produce an original illness narrative. By reflecting on their experience as the interviewer, they see first hand how anthropological methods can be a valuable tool for medical professionals. For example, one student wrote:

“As a future medical professional, I hope to use many of the anthropological approaches that I have learned in this class. Before this course I probably would have been inclined to look at every illness as having a simple biological solution… I also do not think I would have given the patient’s illness story enough weight in future diagnoses had I not learned about the illness narrative via the experiential anthropological method… In the future I hope to consider as many cultural facets as possible before diagnosing a patient or simply assuming that I have the solution to a health problem.”

As students in my course continue to see the tangible benefits of our field to their own professional goals, many of them have approached me about how they can get more experience “doing” medical anthropology. As a result of this demand, and my own desire to mentor students, I offer opportunities to work on collaborative research projects at the end of each semester. My mentoring philosophy is to hold my undergraduates to the same expectations of performance as I would any graduate student. They play an active role in designing research questions, collecting and analyzing data, and producing scholarly publications. For example, I am currently wrapping up a yearlong project with eight undergraduates investigating the visual presentation of pharmaceutical practices on social networking sites such as Twitter and Instagram. This practical experience provides my students with the confidence to complete a research project from hypothesis to publication, as well as outstanding academic writing skills that will serve them well in their post-graduate careers. I know this because several of my former research assistants have been accepted into medical school at MSU, the public health program at University of Michigan, and other various graduate programs across the country. I keep in touch with each of them and am always pleasantly surprised when they describe the myriad of ways my course and subsequent research experience continues to benefit their professional trajectories.

Formative Assessments: The final step in my approach to teaching is to progress from a model where the instructor challenges her students, to one where the students challenge each other and ideally, themselves. I have found that poorly defined expectations are the prime reason students are unable to make this transition in other courses. When faced with a challenging assignment, students tend to be so worried about deciphering the prompt and figuring out how to get every last point to boost their grade, that they miss the purpose of the assignment altogether. I address this issue by designing clear assignment prompts and rubrics that also encourage creative expression. This works best with iterative assessments on which students receive regular feedback throughout the semester. For example, students in my Medical Anthropology course build interactive websites that investigate illnesses that hold personal meaning to them. Beyond a basic set of requirements for each webpage, students are free to design their website in a way that they feel will best illustrate the value of Medical Anthropology to the general public. By creating a system for peer review and setting weekly deadlines, students can see how a real audience interprets their websites, and use that feedback to make continuous improvements. It also keeps them engaged with the assignment because they see it as an opportunity to explore something they already care about in a new and meaningful way. As an added bonus, this particular assignment also provides my students practice in the art of digital self-presentation. As a result of completing this assignment, my student can now create their own professional websites with the confidence of knowing how an academic audience will perceive their work.

As I continue to develop my teaching philosophy, I am constantly reminded that my students are capable of much more than they give themselves credit for. Likewise, I, too, must continue to challenge myself and cultivate confidence in my own abilities as an instructor. I have come a long way from being a teaching assistant, to lead instructor, to the supervisor of a suite of courses in my department, but there is always room to grow. From designing online courses to conducting interdisciplinary research on embedded course assessments, I thrive on tackling new situations that test my own pedagogical perspectives. I especially love working in collaboration with other faculty to brainstorm new ways to generate intellectual curiosity and excitement in the classroom. I look forward to seeking out similar opportunities in your program that will continue to challenge me, and help me cultivate the same level of confidence as a teacher that I envision from my students as learners.

Examples of Student Work

In my Introduction to Medical Anthropology Course, students were required to create a website examining an illness through multiple theoretical approaches addressed in the course. This project was hugely successful and proves that we can engage our students in theory and ethnography, even at a distance. Here are some examples of the websites my students created:
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: http://anp204-drabekco.weebly.com/

Student Evaluations

The following PDFs are student evaluations from my most recent teaching experiences: as instructor for ANP 270: Women and Health: Anthropological and International Perspectives (live lecture); lead instructor in ANP 204: Introduction to Medical Anthropology (online), and as a guest speaker in ANP201: Introduction to Sociocultural Diversity (live lecture).


TKD – ANP270 Lecture Student Evaluations

TKD – ANP204 Online Student Evaluations

TKD-ANP201 Guest Lecture Student Evaluations