It’s not every day that you come to class and see your professor pour his entire soda over his head to illustrate a concept in his lecture. However, in graduate student Joshua Tom’s Intro to Sociology class, this is exactly the dedication to teaching you will find.
“Josh does not stand behind a podium or desk. He stands in front of these barriers to be fully present and engaged with his fellow learners. Interaction is central to his teaching philosophy. With self-deprecating humor, he relates sociology to his own life experiences and encourages students to do the same,” says Dr. Kevin Dougherty, associate professor of sociology.
Because of Josh’s excellence in teaching, he has recently received the 2013 Outstanding Student Instructor award. One of the many things that makes Josh such an exceptional instructor, is his ability to connect with his students. Josh shows his students that the study of sociology is not only interesting but it pervades all aspects of their lives.
His interactive teaching style inspires his students to engage both in class and outside class. For one of his homework assignments, Josh allowed students to watch a documentary instead of reading an article, which inspired his students to come together outside of class and have movie nights in their dorms.
“Sociology is easily relatable to the students’ lives, because the subject is concerned with the world they live in,” says Joshua. “At its best, sociology sheds light on their past experience and shapes their understanding of their futures, and meeting this potential is the major motivation behind why and how I teach my courses.”
In addition to his passion for sociology and teaching, Josh makes sure that his classes are not only informational but also interesting to his students. He includes entertaining videos and uses many pop culture references, which makes the class and the subject more enjoyable to students.
“Josh made learning about Sociology fun and I truly looked forward to going to his class each week. I even once brought a friend from home to class with me so she could see why I liked my professor so much. She had such a good time in class that she told me if she ever ended up coming to Baylor one day, she would take Josh’s Intro to Sociology class,” says Gillian Chant, one of Josh’s students.
Though Josh excels at making his classes enjoyable for his students, his lectures and assignments do much more than entertain. While many professors rely on textbooks to outline curriculum, Josh chose not to use a textbook. Instead he handpicks journal articles and primary sources, to tailor the curriculum of his course to suit the needs and interests of his students.
To learn more about the opportunities in Baylor Graduate School’s outstanding Sociology program visit their website.