Introduction to Philosophy (x2, Tulane University)
Cartesian Skepticism, Reliabilism, Metaphysical Responses to Skepticism, Cosmological and Design Arguments, the Problem of Evil, Ethical Objectivism and Relativism, Consequentialism and Deontology, Ethics of Eating Factory-Farmed Animal Products, Libertarian Free Will, Compatibilism, Challenges to Free Will from Neuroscience, Moral Luck, Free Will Skepticism
Elementary Logic (x2, UW-Madison and Tulane University)
Sentential Logic; Predicate Logic with Nested Quantifiers; Derivations and Interpretations
Philosophy and Criminal Punishment
Introduction to Normative Ethics, Arguments and Validity, Justifications for Punishment (Retribution, Deterrence, Incapacitation, Rehabilitation, Restorative Justice), U.S. Prison Conditions, Racial and Socio-Economic Bias in U.S. Criminal Justice System, Proposed Reforms
Introduction to Logic (x3, UW-Madison and Center for Talented Youth)
Validity and Soundness, the Counterexample Method, Informal Fallacies, Categorical Logic, the Traditional Square of Opposition, Venn Diagram Proofs, Propositional Logic, Truth Tables, Natural Deduction, Moral Arguments by Analogy
Contemporary Moral Issues
Introduction to Normative Ethics, Arguments and Validity, Introduction to Metaethics, Obligations to the Poor, Abortion, Animal Ethics, Free Will and Moral Responsibility, Punishment
Introduction to Ethics
Metaethics, Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics, Virtue Ethics
Contemporary Moral Issues (3x)
Introduction to Normative Ethics, Rights of Children, Abortion, Cloning and Genetic Enhancement, Euthanasia, Drug Decriminalization, Pornography, Affirmative Action, Capital Punishment, Terrorism, the Gendered Division of Labor, Introduction to Political Philosophy, Inequality of Opportunity and Outcome, Economic Inequality, School Choice, Animal Ethics
Ethical Issues in Health Care
Distributing Scarce Medical Resources, Abortion, Stem Cell Research and Cloning, Animal Experimentation, Consent, Paternalism, Foregoing Medical Care of Children, Genetic Screening, Justice and Health Care, Disability, Performance-Enhancing Drugs
Introduction to Philosophy (3x)
Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, Free Will, Ethics
Propositional Logic, Predicate Logic, Nested Quantifiers and Identity
Reason in Communication (Critical Thinking)
Arguments and Validity, Informal Fallacies, Categorical Logic, Propositional Logic, Inductive Inference, Causal Inference
I have three broad goals for students in my philosophy classes. I want them to become competent in using philosophical tools to answer meaningful questions. I want students to form a habit of questioning their initial judgments and of searching for countervailing reasons. And, I want students to learn a transferable intellectual skill: engaging in productive, respectful group discussion. Below I describe a number of techniques I’ve adopted or plan to use to further these goals.
Becoming competent with philosophical tools—ultimately a satisfying venture for students—requires hard work, the benefits of which they may not immediately see. With that in mind, I use a number of strategies for facilitating their success with new and complex subject matter.
First, the overarching learning goal that I communicate to students is that they come to a well-reasoned position as to what they believe regarding the topics that we discuss, and that they be able to articulate and defend that position. This is a tangible goal—more so than, say, simply appreciating the philosophical debate regarding a particular topic. And, because it brings a certain kind of social prestige, it is likely to be appealing. For related reasons, I ask students to conduct interviews with friends or family on, for example, whether life as a “brain-in-a-vat” is a possibility to be feared, whether widespread suffering provides evidence against the existence of God, and whether cultural norms determine moral obligations. I include this activity, in part, because demonstrating competence to others, outside of the classroom, promotes student motivation.
Second, I use a number of strategies to ensure that the material is neither too difficult to master nor too easy to permit disengagement. Achieving this happy medium is an empirically validated way of sustaining student motivation. To gauge student comprehension, I sometimes use brief evaluations at the end of class; students grade the pace as “too fast,” “too slow,” or “ok.” Further, I provide low-stakes feedback at the end of class sessions: students test their knowledge by answering questions that I’ve prepared, summarizing the lesson, anticipating what might appear on a quiz, or identifying an unclear point. These activities allow me to gauge the level of comprehension and to calibrate future instruction, so that students are challenged but not overwhelmed.
Third, I create a course environment in which students receive lots of support from me and from each other. At the beginning of the semester, I divide the class into working groups of 3–4 students (whose members remain the same throughout the course). Students routinely break into these groups to discuss a question that arose in lecture or to work on the day’s review activity at the end of class. I create these stable working groups for several reasons. First, small group discussion is a very low-stakes opportunity to vet ideas. Second, by talking at length with peers, students learn that others have difficulty with the material as well. Finally, this practice makes it more likely that students will build relationships and study together outside of class, an activity that improves their learning, among other benefits. Regarding my connections with students, I emphasize that I’m happy to meet outside of office hours to accommodate their schedules, and I make a habit of touching base with students who miss more than two classes without contacting me.
The second goal that I mentioned above is that students question their initial positions and search for disconfirming evidence. During class discussion, I ask students to critically scrutinize their own viewpoint. For example, when we discuss the retributivist view that it is an intrinsically good thing for a moral offender to be treated in the way that he treated his victim, I might remind students that even those who are inclined to accept this view should search for possible objections, because this is a necessary part of developing a well-justified position on the topic. I also take care not to share my positions (on the main topics of the course) with students, to mitigate what I see as a common intellectual failing (one that I’m hardly immune from): the tendency to skip over the arguments for a position and to accept the view of a respected authority. If students are in the dark about the views I hold, they can’t skip the hard work of grappling with arguments by adopting mine. More recently, I have introduced my class to Structured Academic Controversy, a protocol for small-group discussion that requires students to hear arguments (from their peers) in support of a position they disagree with, and then provide a “charitable retelling” of the argument.
The final goal I have for students is one whose value I appreciate more now than I did in my early years of teaching. Based on conversations with other teachers, I see the skill of participating productively in discussion as an important learning goal in my classes. The primary reason for including this goal is that, in their lives beyond the university, students will need to reach decisions on complex topics without the guidance of an uncontested expert (i.e., the position occupied by a course instructor). For this reason, I want students to practice forming beliefs in a way that draws on the knowledge and perspectives of their classmates. Practicing this skill involves both showing respect for others’ contributions and overcoming one’s own hesitancy to speak in front of the group. In the past I have led conversations early in the semester about what promotes successful group discussion, and I have encouraged universal participation by asking students, at the end of class sessions, to perform a short evaluation of their own contribution to discussion and of the quality of the discussion as a whole. In my future teaching, I plan to put greater emphasis on this learning goal.
 National Research Council, How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, expanded ed. (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000), 149.
 Richard M. Ryan and Edward L Deci, “Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being,” American Psychologist 55, no. 1 (January 2000): 68-78, http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68.
 Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, “Interview with STEM Faculty Discussing Social-Belonging: Dr. Kelly Holley-Bockelmann,” interview by Trey Mack, https://courses.edx.org/courses/course-v1:BUx+CIRTL.1x+2T2019/course/.
Many of the tools I use in the classroom are motivated by what might be called ‘inclusive teaching.’ By this I mean teaching practices that create a generally comfortable environment for my students and that remove obstacles to success in my courses. I’ll discuss each of these aspects of inclusive teaching below.
I aim for a comfortable class environment because students who are comfortable in class will better retain the material they are exposed to and will more readily share ideas, raise objections, and refine their classmates’ contributions. I qualify my commitment to this goal (“generally”) because the issues at play in philosophy courses—e.g., the nature of personal identity, the existence of free will, the morality of practices that students engage in or endorse—should leave them with some consternation. But, it is important to prevent persistent discomfort that can disrupt learning.
The strategy that I have implemented most extensively with this goal in mind is to convey to students that all of their contributions in class are valued. The techniques I use to that end will be familiar to many teachers: announcing that a student’s comment illustrates ideas from the reading that are easy to miss; honoring a student’s position by asking the class to take two minutes and think individually about what their view would imply in particular scenarios; and, in cases in which the student’s contribution is misguided, explaining why someone might reasonably take that view, before (perhaps) addressing where it goes wrong. To some extent, the goal of welcoming student contributions is in tension with clear and efficient presentation of philosophical material. I remember, for example, a class discussion of cultural relativism in which a student’s comment suggested that, according to cultural relativism, people’s moral views are causally influenced by their cultural environment. I very much felt the urge to interject that cultural relativism’s distinctive claim involves the truth conditions of moral judgments, rather than the effect of culture on personal morals. Based on my reading of the student’s comfort level, I decided to rely on later restatements of the theory (on my part or from students) to clarify the issue. My judgment, though one I continue to evaluate and calibrate, is that the costs in philosophical precision are more than compensated for by the positive environment and its effect on learning.
Another practice that I keep in mind is the use of examples and language that students may find troubling (often appropriately), and that would thereby degrade their ability to learn. For example, when asked whether a bystander may turn a train away from five individuals and toward one, it is common for students, at some point in the discussion, to suggest that perhaps the five on the track are prison inmates on work release. I think it is important to gently challenge one way of interpreting the comment: that those in jail or prison lose their rights not to be harmed. This is especially important if other students have family members who are incarcerated, in which case the suggestion would be deeply alienating. Other common assumptions that I try to gently correct include that sex involves a man and a woman, that everyone is raised by two parents, and that my students and I are all US citizens.
I’ll turn now to the second aspect of what I think of as inclusive teaching: removing obstacles to success in my courses. First-generation students and underrepresented minority students are less likely than their classmates to complete college with a degree. One set of strategies for boosting academic achievement for these students, which likely benefits other students as well, aims to reduce intimidation students may feel regarding instructors. Deeper relationships with instructors, in turn, help students acclimate to academic culture. To help my students reach out when they need help, I reiterate early in the semester that since I love talking about the course material, I’m very happy to have students come to office hours or to schedule different times to meet. And, when teaching in-person classes, I hold some of my office hours in a group-work area of the library, a practice supported in the literature for reducing intimidation. Second, I have exposed students to two empirically validated study techniques (practice testing and distributed practice), as well as a formal procedure for note taking (the Cornell Note Taking System); this intervention is especially helpful for first-generation students.In the future I hope to expand on these measures by offering extra credit for students who meet with classmates to use these study techniques.
My knowledge of these techniques and the challenges for students that motivate them has been greatly enhanced by participating in workshops and courses on pedagogy at UW-Madison and beyond. I plan to continue participating in formal and informal discussions of pedagogy as a faculty member.
 Terence Hicks and Abul Pitre, Research Studies in Higher Education: Educating Multicultural College Students (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2012), 158. Emily Tate, “Graduation Rates and Race,” Inside Higher Ed. 4/26/2017: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/04/26/college-completion-rates-vary-race-and-ethnicity-report-finds.
 Delta Program in Research, Teaching & Learning (http://www.delta.wisc.edu), “Six Impactful Teaching Practices to Improve the Academic Achievement of Underrepreseted Minority and First Generation Students.”
 Hicks and Pitre, Research, 33.
 Delta, “Six Impactful teaching practices.”
 John Dunloskey, “Strengthening the Student Toolkit: Study Strategies to Boost Learning,” American Educator (Fall 2013): 12–21.
 John Davis, The First-generation Student Experience: Implications for Campus Practice, and Strategies for Improving Persistence and Success (Sterling, VA: Stylus, 2010), 41. Quoted in Ben Galina “Teaching First-Generation College Students” Retrieved: 9/1/2019: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu//cft/guides-sub-pages/teaching-first-generation-college-students/#at.