Dr. Elizabeth Powell – A Legacy of Teaching Excellence
Teaching complex subjects often requires new approaches with every class and each new student. In this series of clips, Dr. Elizabeth Powell describes the ways in which her teaching evolved over many years and how she found joy in fostering community in her classes. Elizabeth completed her Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. In clinical practice, Dr. Powell has worked primarily with adolescents and young adults in her practice. She also enjoys working with churches to provide workshops and coaching on personal development, relational dynamics and organizational health.
For more about Elizabeth’s teaching, see Bonni Stachowiak’s EdSurge column about the experience observing Elizabeth’s psychology and Christianity class in the Spring of 2022, or listen to Episode 423 of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast.
Early Memories of Teaching
Elizabeth recalls an experience early in her career where the successful methods and materials she used one semester failed to engage her students the very next semester, and how she adapted and learned from this process of adjustment.
Changes in Teaching Style
Sometimes, a teacher’s style of instruction doesn’t connect with students the way they expected. Elizabeth reflects on the ways her teaching style has changed over the years to better engage with students.
Student Faith Development
Our students come to us with a variety of backgrounds when it comes to their faith. Elizabeth discusses her own research into the demographics of Vanguard University and how that informs her pedagogy.
Integrating Faith and Learning
Teaching at a faith-based university requires the ability to integrate matters of belief into academic disciplines in a way that allows students to question, learn, and grow. Elizabeth describes how she achieves this balance in the classroom while respecting the diversity of students’ backgrounds and beliefs.
Advice to New Teachers
Stepping into the classroom as a first-time instructor is often an overwhelming and stressful experience. Elizabeth encourages new teachers to be willing to take risks, try new things, and give themselves grace when teaching doesn’t go as planned.
Advice to Those Who Have Taught for a Long Time
When a teacher has been in the classroom for many years, it can be easy to become stuck in a rut and feel disconnected from the students of today. Elizabeth gives recommendations on how teachers can keep themselves and their material relevant, engaging, and tailored to the needs of the present.
Students often enter the classroom expecting to passively listen to the instructor instead of engaging with them. Elizabeth reflects on how she draws students out of their shells and fosters engagement as a fundamental part of her teaching.
Fostering Trust in the Classroom
When teaching deeply personal subjects that require students to be honest about themselves, trust between the student, the teacher, and the rest of the class is vital. Elizabeth discusses her methodology for building trust and a feeling of safety as foundational components of the class.
Teaching Controversial Subjects
When a fundamental part of a teacher’s subject matter becomes a matter of political or academic controversy, it can be difficult to even discuss these topics with students. Elizabeth lays out her approach to dealing with these subjects on both a personal level and a student-by-student basis.
Learning From Seemingly ‘Difficult’ Students
Within the classroom, the students are never the only ones learning. Looking back, Elizabeth reflects on an experience with a ‘difficult’ student that forever changed her perspective on teaching and her approach to criticism.