Laurie Alfaro, Ed.D.

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Teaching Philosophy Statement

My goal as an instructor is to prepare students to succeed in an information-based economy. Web standards and best practices are evolving constantly, so it is necessary for me to continually update my skills and knowledge. I am able to maintain disciplinary currency through my participation in various professional organizations, including the Interactive Design Association (IxDA) and the Chicago Interactive Design & Development (CIDD) group. Additionally, I subscribe to various online publications such as Smashing Magazine and A List Apart. Through these professional channels, I am able to keep abreast of the most current technologies and standards—knowledge I draw upon to teach my web design and development courses.

Because of the ever-changing landscape in the fields of interactive design and development, it is essential that my students continue to keep informed of changes in the technologies long after they graduate. Therefore, it is important that my students acquire life-long learning skills so that they will remain current in their knowledge. Another important area for students is problem-solving. In the interactive design field, solving problems for users is paramount. In order to encourage critical thinking and problem-solving, I try to show students how to find creative solutions to problems rather than merely telling them the answer. This emphasis on problem-solving ultimately helps prepare students for careers in interactive development and design, where they will be expected to solve problems on a daily basis.

Finally, I believe very strongly that hands-on experience is the best way to learn any sort of web scripting language. The act of writing one’s own code reinforces the content of lectures and reading assignments. Therefore, all of my courses contain a laboratory or workshop component. This lab time gives my students a chance to actually practice their lessons and receive immediate feedback. The practical experience allows them to better retain the knowledge, as well as exercising reasoning and problem-solving skills. Ultimately, once my students graduate, they should be prepared for high-paying, in-demand jobs.

As a college instructor, I feel privileged to come to work every day at a job I love. It’s been said that when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work, and that’s very true for me. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than receiving an E-mail or a visit from a former student and hearing about how he or she is utilizing what I’ve taught. When my students succeed, then I share in their successes.