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Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Andrew J. Saltarelli, Ph.D.
Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation
– attributed to Aristotle
My goal as an educator is to facilitate learning experiences that enable students to wrestle with
authentic problems and creatively exploit opportunities encountered outside the classroom. I
believe that transformational learning – learning that fundamentally changes one’s view of
themselves and those around them – happens when one’s educational experiences, talents, and
values come in contact with the profound needs of our world. My goal as an educator is to help
each student discover this point of contact.
In facilitating learning – as opposed to disseminating knowledge – I seek a balance between
direct instruction and student-directed learning while always working toward the latter (see Jang,
Reeve, & Deci, 2010). In an age of incredible access to information, students more than ever
need the guidance of an expert to model for them the skills to effectively parse, evaluate, and
synthesize knowledge in useful ways. On the other hand, transformational learning experiences
are extracted from one’s own questions, explorations, and quests. This type of experience
requires uncertainty, humility, curiosity, and some level of disequilibrium for both my students
and myself. To this end, I design learning activities that encourage exploration, promote
divergent thinking, require reflection, and allow space for creative solutions to emerge.
It is imperative that all students are able to freely engage in such transformational learning
activities. A large body of literature, as well as my own research (see e.g., Saltarelli & Roseth,
2014), indicates that feelings of exclusion and lack of belonging not only negatively affect
student wellbeing, but are also deleterious of learning outcomes. It’s clear that meeting the social
and affective needs of all students is integral to deep and meaningful learning (for review, see
Roseth, Johnson, & Johnson, 2008) and requires intentional, thoughtful pedagogical practices. I
try to proactively cultivate an inclusive learning environment through a variety of interventions
and cooperative and active learning techniques that have proven to help all students feel
welcome, accepted, and included. I also strive to develop a sense of trust in the classroom by
setting clear expectations for students and myself, demonstrating deep care for students’ personal
wellbeing, and exhibiting a personal passion for education as a vehicle for positive societal
change.
In conclusion, my goal as an educator is to facilitate a process by which students not only have
grounding in theory and evidence-based practice, but can also critically self-evaluate how this
knowledge intersects with the needs of the world. I believe such needs will only be met when all
learners are able to freely participate in the educational process.
Jang, H., Reeve, J., & Deci, E. L. (2010). Engaging students in learning activities: It is not
autonomy support or structure but autonomy support and structure. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 102(3), 588–600. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0019682
Roseth, C. J., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2008). Promoting early adolescents’
achievement and peer relationships: The effects of cooperative, competitive, and
individualistic goal structures. Psychological Bulletin, 134(2), 223-246.
Saltarelli, A. J., & Roseth, C. J. (2014). Effects of synchronicity and belongingness on face-toface and computer-mediated constructive controversy. Journal of Educational
Psychology, 106(4), 946–960. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036898