Catching Up with CIRTL Alumni: Dr. Shaun Davis

March 26, 2024
Shaun Davis

Dr. Shaun Davis

In this segment, we highlight one of UArizona's CIRTL alumni working in a variety of professions. This month, we feature Dr. Shaun Davis (2023-2024 Postdoc Pathways fellow) who is now an Assistant Professor at a small liberal arts college in the midwest. Hear what he has to say below about how learning the language of pedagogy in CIRTL helped put him a step above in the job search and first year as a professor!

Name: Dr. Shaun Davis

Year(s) in CIRTL: 1 year

Current Position: Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Lawrence University and starting a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Biology at Hollins University in Fall 2024

How did your CIRTL experience impact your job search or current position?

The CIRTL program provided me with the language of pedagogy. I never had formal training during my graduate school to teach. This experience introduced me to commonly used approaches to develop and improve upon courses, such as Blooms taxonomy, learning outcomes, assessment strategies, and alignment. These helped shape my teaching statements and connect with faculty while on the job market. Additionally, being involved in a course on campus gave me direct experiences I can reference to discuss approaches that work within the field. I also gained a wonderful and supportive colleague, my faculty mentor Dr. Martha Bhattacharya, who helped provide valuable feedback and recommend me for my tenure-track position! 

What is your favorite teaching practice or tip?

I recognized that the first year as a college professor was going to be busy and stressful. I wanted to avoid the extra workload of looking up answers to fantastic student questions in class, so I created and implemented an extra credit opportunity called “Supplemental Findings.” When a student asks a relevant question to the material being discussed and I don’t know the answer, the student is given the chance to find the answer on their own time and present it to everyone in the following class during a short two-minute spiel. This opportunity has many advantages: (1) students must actively incorporate new information with their prior knowledge, (2) practice confidence in asking questions during class, (3) search for and assess information independently, and (4) enhance their public speaking abilities. These moments also flip the student-teacher roles, as they are the experts, and I am learning from them. This approach has been used heavily by students in my cellular and molecular based courses, and they seem to enjoy hearing new information from their peers to supplement our preplanned course topics.

Is there anything you want graduate students or post-doctoral fellow considering CIRTL program to know?

If anyone is considering a teaching-focused career, I highly recommend joining the CIRTL program. The experiences and knowledge gained will help propel your career forward. I also enjoyed the new connections I made, both with faculty outside my postdoc department, and with the students! Getting to co-teach a course was a nice break from the day-to-day research activity in my lab.