Curtis Bennett, PhD

Professor of Mathematics

Biography

Curtis Bennett received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago. His mathematical research focus is in the areas of Groups and Geometries and Combinatorics and consults with the Center for Communication Research. He was a two-time Carnegie Scholar (2000-01 and '03-'04) with the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. He was the 2010 recipient of the Fritz B. Burns Distinguished Teaching Award and the 2010 Mathematical Association of America Award for Distinguished teaching.

Philosophy

As a teacher, I am an ambassador of mathematics, working to bring students to both an understanding of the deeper issues and to see both beauty and structure of mathematics. I see my goal as a teacher to help the students to get away from a formulaic approach and to see mathematics as a way of understanding and problem solving, whether the student is in a quantitative skills class or a senior level mathematics class. Teaching thus becomes a cognitive mentorship in which I strive to provide the students with challenging experiences that allow them the space to confront the mathematics they are learning in a way that allows them to understand how this mathematics fits in a broader landscape and to take charge of their own learning.

Experience

My teaching is driven by my goal that students should see mathematics as a beautiful and meaningful structure. As a result, I don't really have one style of teaching. I move between Socratic lecture, group work, group projects, and individual work depending on the topic and the needs of the students at that time. I believe in challenging the students with problems that force them to think beyond simple formulas to see why the formulas must be true. Thus, I focus as much on how solution techniques were developed as I do on learning the techniques themselves. When teaching the introductory courses (quantitative skills, calculus, pre-calculus), I search for problems of interest to the students that drive the mathematics we are learning, such as portfolio investments for business calculus, blood testing for diseases and false positive rates in quantitative skills, or the mathematics behind chest pains in calculus for the life sciences.

Nancy Coster, CPA

Clinical Associate Professor of Accounting

Biography

Nancy Coster is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Accounting in LMU's College of Business Administration. She joined the LMU faculty in 2007 and has taught financial accounting, managerial accounting, accounting information systems, and advanced accounting. Her prior teaching experience includes full time lecturer positions at the University of California Irvine, California State University Northridge, and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Nancy is a Certified Public Accountant and her professional background is in public accounting where she worked for a Big Four firm and a local accounting firm, largely on assurance engagements.

Philosophy

I enjoy learning and hope to foster that same enjoyment of learning within my students. I understand that students have different goals in life and different goals for a particular course. I think my role as a teacher is to help students achieve their goals and often to inspire them to set the bar higher for themselves. I work to engage students through various teaching methods, incorporating technology where it enhances learning, and I draw from personal experience and current events to bring classroom theory to life.

Experience

My style of teaching is primarily lecture based but also incorporates in-class work by the students. I frequently adjust my lecture in real time based on student questions and discussions by digitally writing directly on the screen via my Tablet PC. In a typical class, I introduce a topic, demonstrate a problem and then ask the students to work through a similar problem in small groups; during this time I circulate throughout the class, answer questions and provide feedback. After the small groups have completed the problem, each group contributes to the larger class discussion of the solution and I address aspects that have come up repeatedly during group work.
My student projects are often based on real company annual reports that I have modified to better focus on a particular concept. I ask the students to develop financial statement and budget models using MS Excel. I also ask them to interpret the results of their models. Do the numbers make sense? During extensive office hours, I help students develop their technical and professional communication skills as they work through the projects. My role is not only to help them understand the project, but also to help them ask better questions, to listen to my response and be able to develop appropriate follow up questions, and be better prepared to enter the accounting profession.

Elizabeth Drummond, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of History

Biography

Elizabeth Drummond received her Ph.D. in modern European history at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on the history of Germany and Poland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in particular the construction of national identity and nationalist mobilization in the German-Poland borderlands in the decades before World War I. More broadly, her teaching and research aim to situate European history in a global context, with a focus on modern Central Europe, nationalism, imperialism, dynamics of global exploration and exchange, and the intersections of nation/race, gender, class, and religion.

Philosophy

My approach to teaching is based on my understanding of history as both a content-area and a discipline and on my broader understanding of the nature of a liberal education. I see my teaching as part of a tradition that seeks to educate not just the Western Civ student, the history major, or the future lawyer, but to help the individual student develop into a rational and ethical global citizen, who engages in rigorous and independent critical thinking about the world and who strives to realize her own historical agency. As a history teacher, I try to model to my students not only an enthusiastic interest in history but also the complexities of historical analysis. By unmasking the processes by which historians make sense of and give meaning to the past, I help students understand history not as a collection of facts but as a means of thinking about and understanding their own and other cultures, past and present. In modeling the work of the historian, I try both to challenge and to mentor students as they develop their own scholarly abilities – challenging them through the class assignments (both more traditional assignments that focus on close reading and the development of historical arguments in writing as well as more innovative assignments, in particular around the field of public history), mentoring them as they work to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills, and encouraging them to develop the sense of curiosity that marks the life of the mind.

Experience

Most students come to college understanding history as a collection of names, dates and events to be found in a book. They do not fully appreciate that history is more than the mere study of the past, the memorization of facts. As such, I strive to impart to my students an understanding of history as the process of developing reasoned arguments about the past through which we improve our understanding of people's thoughts, actions and experiences. In doing so, I emphasize the richness, complexity, and contingency of the historical past. Students in my classes examine questions of continuity and change over time, of causality, of similarities and differences across time and space, of cross-cultural and cross-civilizational encounter and exchange, and of ideological, structural and cultural factors that informed how people experienced the world around them. In practicing the craft of history, students learn how to think and develop skills that will serve them far beyond the study of history – how to find and use a variety of sources, how to read texts analytically and critically, and how to develop and present, in both writing and speech, well-developed arguments supported by evidence.

Francisco Ramos, Ph.D.

Professor of Elementary and Secondary Education

Biography

Francisco Ramos teaches courses on theories and methods in second language acquisition in the School of Education. He joined LMU in 2003, from Florida international University in Miami. He earned a B.A. in Education and an M.A. in English Philology in Spain, and an M.A. in TESOL and a Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Learning once in the US. His research interests revolve around effective strategies for English Language Learners, dual language education and teacher resilience.

Philosophy

The rationale underlying my teaching philosophy is helping my students understand. Understand who their own students are, their learning processes, and the external influences that may impact their progress and subsequent success. My hope is that, by achieving a better grasp of these issues, they benefit in three different ways. Firstly, by becoming more attached to their own students, they can better understand the struggles so frequently affecting the lives of new arrivals in the US or those living in poverty. Secondly, by becoming more invested in their own professional preparation, they may pursue advanced degrees in education-related areas that contribute to improve the preparation of others facing similar problems to theirs. Finally, by becoming better informed about bilingualism and second language acquisition-related issues, they will have arguments to advocate for language minority students.

Experience

The two courses I generally teach at LMU are very different in nature. Theories and Policies in Second Language Acquisition is more theoretically-based, while Methods in ELD and SDAIE is more practical. Broadly speaking, I flip part of the content in the former so that class time can be used for discussions and exchanges on the topics of the readings. I also use short movie clips for this purpose and to encourage reflections on popular views of the phenomenon of bilingualism. In the Methods course, I model simple, yet very effective activities my students can implement in their classes the very next day. This is followed by group work, during which students adapt the activity to their own grade level and student population following a What-Why-How sequence. The implementation of the activities in their classes is followed by a self-reflection process along the lines of What worked-What didn't work-What needs to be changed.