Demonstration of Teaching Effectiveness


I have been teaching within the department of Media and Cinema Studies in the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign’s College of Media since Fall 2012. After my first year as a grader and teaching assistant for MACS 100, I have served as the instructor of record for nine semesters, including for one summer course. I have also earned the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning’s Graduate Teacher Certificate, as well as volunteered with the center’s annual teaching assistant academy microteaching evaluation.

Table of Contents
1. Courses Taught – Extensive explanations of my responsibilities for each course, including syllabi, assignments, examples of student work, and student evaluations

2. Teaching Assistant Experience

3. Other Teaching Experience

4. Future Courses – A partial list of courses for which I am qualified to each, including a sample syllabus for a gender in comedy course based on my research


Media Literacy (MACS 166)  – Fall 2013-Spring 2015

View Course Website (Spring 2015)

This introductory course consisted of 15-25 students per semester and was designed around MIT’s White Paper on 21st century media literacies and participatory culture. While I inherited the course framework, I redesigned my syllabus each semester to update and add assignments, readings, and topics, to experiment with various means of student writing, blogging, and online discussion, and to clarify the focus of the class, which combined the acquisition of skills with a theoretical understanding of media literacy as a concept. I therefore worked to combine conceptual understanding with engaging activities in which students could practice the skills about which they were reading. These included group projects like producing podcasts, conducting a copyright mock trial, and designing a media literacy non-profit and individual assignments like blogging, creating infographics, and editing Wikipedia.  I also took into consideration student feedback and the effectiveness of teaching strategies each semester to improve the class and syllabus, which showed in the increase in teaching evaluation scores each semester. The above website reflects the final iteration of the course.

Student Evaluations:
(note – first score is for “teaching effectiveness; the second is for “overall quality of course)
Fall 2013: 3.8 / 3.7                 Spring 2014: 4.3 / 4.2
Fall 2014: 4.6 / 4.6                 Spring 2015: 4.7 / 4.6

For a longitudinal profile of my teaching evaluations, see this chart.

For explanation of teaching evaluations at University of Illinois, see the CITL website.

Popular Culture (MACS 320) – Fall 2015 and Fall 2017

View Course Website (Fall 2015)
View Course Website (Fall 2017)

 Drawing on media studies, cultural studies, and critical theory, this upper-level course of 35-45 students sought to give students tools which to better understand the media and culture they consume every day.  The course centers on foundational critical theory and cultural studies texts, including critiques, updates and popular applications of theory. Because the department requires no pre-reqs to sign up, my biggest challenge in designing and teaching the course is making sure I’m adequately serving the needs of  students within the College of Media who have taken introductory courses and students from across the university who have never taken a media studies or cultural theory course before. I do this by adequately warning students in the first week of what is expected of them, offering extra help and resources for those students who might need to do background reading on their own, and pairing more experienced students with those less familiar with the field together for in-class activities, discussion groups, and group presentations.

The first time I taught this course, I was originally designated as the teaching assistant, but had to take over as the instructor at the last minute. Thus, the course was supposed to have discussion sections in addition to meeting twice a week. Instead, I had to cut discussion sections and fit all of our material into two class meetings a week to make the course manageable and redesign the syllabus two weeks before classes started.

This semester, I’m pleased to have had more time to design the syllabus and to have the course meet three times a week. I’m also integrating more student buy-in throughout the course, creating “working groups” during the first week of the class tasked with researching, discussing, and offering recommendations on different sets of classroom policies including media use in class, reading checks, and group work. I’ve also redesigned the final paper to scaffold more chances for written feedback, editing, peer review and revision throughout the semester. Instead of requiring 4-5 short writing assignments throughout the semester as I usually do,  students will instead research and write drafts of 4-5 sections of their final paper throughout the semester and be tasked with heavily revising and combining them as their final project.

Student Evaluations: Fall 2015 – 4.3 / 4.4
As my evaluations tend to improve each time I teach a course, I am hoping to raise these scores this semester after a course redesign and after taking teaching workshops on leading discussion, informal early feedback, and designing writing assignments.

Sample Student Comments:
“Hands down the best course I’ve take in four years of college.”
“Passionate, interesting, approachable, and made the course fun and exciting!”

Sex and Gender in Popular Media (MACS 356) – Fall 2016-Spring 2017

Course Materials
MACS 356 Syllabus |  MACS 356 Readings

Assignment Handouts and Examples
Podcast Handout | Podcast Milestones |  Practice In-Class Assignment

Blog Post 1  and  Blog Post 2  |   Blog Assignment Examples

MACS 356 Media Analysis Handout

I taught this course with a fellow cohort member as the course consisted of 80-100 students. We co-designed the schedule, projects, and assignments and divided grading labor and responsibility for weekly lectures and reading assignments. While we consulted and gave input to one another, we took ownership over half of the weeks, deciding on readings, screenings, and writing lectures for our weeks. I was in charge of: Overview of Media Studies, Visibility and Intersectionality, Introduction to Audio Project, Normativity, Gender and Production, Cultural Appropriation, Resistance, and we shared Weddings and Fat Studies weeks. I also took the lead on the podcast project, as we adapted it from projects I had done in previous courses.

I also produced a story for the Cinema Journal podcast Aca-media on the podcast in which I interviewed my fellow instructor and our students in order to reflect on what we learned the first semester we assigned the project and to give examples of finished projects, which you can listen to here.

Our goal with the course was to create opportunities for student interaction and contribution even within a larger lecture environment. We did this through weekly reading reflections on which we gave written feedback, the use of iClickers to allow students to answer poll questions and register their opinions, and the encouragement of the asking and answering of questions in class. We also assigned a semester-long group project, which while it was at times a logistical struggle, helped the students create more a community within the class. Our blog post assignments and podcast project also encouraged students to not only critique and analyze popular culture, but to contribute their own voice and work to the public sphere.

Student Evaluations
Fall 2016 – 3.5 / 3.6                              Spring 2017 4.2 / 4.1
Co-teaching and teaching in a large lecture hall for the first time proved relatively challenging. We worked hard to improve our teaching style and syllabus for the following semester, which showed in the teaching evaluations. 

Sample Student Comments:
“Despite the large room, I think Stephanie did a great job making the lecture engaging and thought provoking”
“I loved lecture topics and video examples. It helped me relate to things easier”
“Thank you for giving a lot of explanation as to why I got the grade! You provided specifics for me to improve upon in my rewrite. I wish my other professors did this.” 

Intro to Popular Film and Television (MACS 100)  –  Summer 2014

Course Materials
MACS 100 Syllabus

Response Assignment Handout   |  Example Responses Assignments

Video Project and Paper Handout 

This four-week intensive summer course consisted of 30 students and met four times  week for three hours. Having served as a teaching assistant for this course previously, I  but was tasked with redesigning the syllabus to fit into the summer’s shortened time frame. I was given the advice that students are often taking two intensive courses at the same time, and to adjust reading expectations. I also gave students time during class to work on the final group video project and split each class meeting into lecture, discussion, and screening to keep students engaged.


I served as the head TA for MACS 100 in order to help transition TAs from working as graders to designing and running their own discussion sections, and as a TA for several online courses. While working on my Master’s in the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, I also served as a teaching assistant for several courses. Below are highlights of my responsibilities for courses in which I served as a teaching assistant.

Introduction to Popular Film and Television (MACS 100)
Head Teaching Assistant/Discussion Section Leader                                               Spring 2016
Teaching Assistant/Grader                                                                          Fall 2012-Spring 2013

Course Materials

 Discussion Section Syllabus 

 Media Show And Tell  Handout |Media Show and Tell Example

During the Spring 2016 semester, the department added discussion sections to this course, meaning that instead of just grading, teaching assistants would now lead discussion sections. I was brought in by the professor as someone who had both TA-ed this course before and taught several of my own classes to help newer TAs learn how to lead discussion and run their own classrooms. In addition to leading three discussion sections per week of 30 each, I assisted in weekly TA meetings answering questions and brainstorming discussion activities, contributed to the design the course’s new writing assignments, and helped redesign the course’s final video project.

As the only TA with extensive experience both producing and teaching production, I also offered assistance to students and the other TAs in implementing the final video project, in which students had to work in groups to write a script, storyboard, shoot, and edit a 3-4 minute video relating to the course’s material.

Student Evaluations
Spring 2016 – Section A – 4.5 / 4.2
Section B – 4.2 / 4.0
Section C – 4.9 / 4.8

Sample Student Comments:
“Knew the material well and was always wiling to take time and re-explain things if we seemed lost.”
(the aspects of the course that were most beneficial to me were) Test review sessions and feedback on our video projects.”
“She’s really friendly and is really easy to approach if I had questions about the class.” 

Sex and Gender in Popular Media (MACS 356 Online Course)
Summer 2016/Winter 2016

Both the summer and winter courses consisted of 20-30 students; the summer course lasted 8 weeks, while the winter version lasted for 4. Our biggest challenge for both versions was reasonably condensing the work of a 16-week course into much shorter time frame while creatively implementing modes of assigning work, communicating with students, and fostering student interaction.

I was primarily responsible for grading weekly online message board assignments, and communicating with students via e-mail. I also maintained the course web portal and dealt with the majority of technical issues, setting up the grade book and troubleshooting student tech issues. I also helped the professor design and update the curriculum, suggesting and commenting on potential readings and screenings, wrote one of my own lectures and lessons per semester, sent announcements, and helped write weekly quizzes.  My biggest contribution was giving extensive feedback on student writing, both on message boards and on drafts students sent me for review before turning them into the professor. Each week, students were asked to write 2-4 paragraphs in response to a prompt relating to the week’s readings and then to comment on each other’s answers within their group’s message board. Focusing my comments on increasing specificity in their writing, applying readings to examples, and strengthening their arguments, I found that students in both courses improved the quality their message board writing assignments dramatically from the first week to the final week.

Syracuse University, Newhouse School
Fall 2007-Spring 2008

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During my Master’s degree program, I served as a teaching assistant in the department of Television, Radio, and Film for three classes per semester, including Film and Popular Culture, Editing, New Media, The Wire: A Case Study, and Advanced Filmmaking. In these courses, I was primarily responsible for setting up technology, taking attendance, running review sessions for tests, giving feedback on student writing, and giving production assistance and guidance on editing and filmmaking assignments. I had much less responsibility than I do at the University of Illinois, but because Newhouse is a more production focused department, I gained valuable experience and insight on how to design and run production and practice-based courses.


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Camp Galileo Summer 2017
Lead Instructor

Winnetka, Illinois

In addition to my college teaching, I also worked at an innovation camp over the summer of 2017 in which I was the lead instructor for a web design course and a video production course at Camp Galileo, a summer camp for grades K-8 that emphasizes the innovator’s process and teaching kids to envision and build a better world. In my role, I worked with campers in 5-8 grade first in designing and creating their own websites and then in planning, shooting, and editing videos for their own YouTube Channel. This teaching experience not only gave me more hands-on experience teaching production and media literacy, but also gave me tools with which to implement the innovator’s process into my college courses. My experience at camp is helping me to better foster an environment in which my students can learn to fail productively, to not be afraid of risks and trying new things, and in which they have more space for learning through trial and error. From a research perspective, I was also given a crash course in the pop culture that kids are consuming, from meme culture to YouTube stars, which has greatly helped expand my understanding of what my own students will be most able to relate to in my college classes.


The following are several areas in which I am qualified to teach, including a sample syllabus for an upper-level gender and comedy course based on my dissertation research.  I have experience in large lecture courses, small discussion sections, and blended lecture/discussion formats. In all of my courses, I have sought to integrate technology in ways that further the goals of the courses including websites, instructional classroom technology, social media, blogging platforms. Finally, having a background in media production, I also feel comfortable both teaching  production courses and in integrating production and practical elements into theoretical courses.

Gender and Stand- Up Comedy Syllabus Proposal

Critical and Cultural Theory |Television Studies and History |Comedy Studies

New Media/Internet Studies |Feminist Media Studies | Film History/Theory

Media Production | Communications and Media Law | Media Literacy

Qualitative Methods | Ethnographic Methods | Communications Theory

Cultural Studies of Technology | Popular Culture