Teaching Portfolio

(PDF copy)

1  TEACHING STATEMENT

2  DIVERSITY STATEMENT

3  EVIDENCE OF TEACHING EFFECTIVENESS

3.1 Quantitative Course Evaluations, Stevens Institute of Technology

3.2 Qualitative Course Evaluations, Stevens Institute of Technology

3.3 Quantitative Course Evaluations, Florida State University

3.4 Qualitative Course Evaluations, Florida State University

3.5 Quantitative Course Evaluations, University of Colorado

3.6 Qualitative Course Evaluations, University of Colorado

3.7 Quantitative Teaching Observations

3.8 Qualitative Teaching Observations

3.9 Teaching Workshops Offered

3.10 Other Teaching Service

3.11 Formal Teaching Training

SAMPLE COURSE MATERIALS

4.1 Courses I am Prepared to Teach

4.2 Courses I Can Teach with Advance Notice

4.3 Introduction to Philosophy

4.4 Cognitive Science

4.5 Philosophy of Science

4.6 Philosophy of Mind

4.7 Ethics of Business and Technology

4.8 Environmental Ethics

4.9 Ethical Issues in Science and Technology

4.10 Logic

5  TEACHING EXPERIENCE

5.1 Assistant Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology

5.2 Instructor, Florida State University

5.3 Teaching Assistant, Florida State University

5.4 Guest Lecturer, Florida State University

5.5 Guest Lecturer, University of Colorado

5.6 Teaching Assistant, University of Colorado

5.7 Recitation Instructor, University of Colorado

5.8 Workshop Instructor, Apple Store

1  TEACHING STATEMENT

Like most people in the US, only a minority of my family completed a four-year college degree (US Census, 2019) and neither of my parents went to graduate school. So higher education was foreign until a few instructors helped me integrate. They (1) instilled cognitive empathy, (2) exposed often overlooked puzzles in everyday life, and (3) counter-conditioned pernicious stereotypes. I attempt to do the same for my students. Whether or not I succeed is an empirical question. So I empirically test my methods.

Practicing cognitive empathy. Practice improves learning (Lang, 2016). Indeed, the best predictor of my students’ paper and test scores is the number of classroom practice activities that they complete—β = 0.63, 95% CI [0.39, 0.86], p < 0.001 (Figure 1, right). And students seem to realize that our classroom practice helps them understand other viewpoints and reasons (all quotes below are unmodified).

Regression plots predicting paper, test, and final grades from in-class practice completion.
Figure 1. Regressing in-class practice (the percentage of in-class activities completed) on final grade percentage (left) and paper and test grade (right) with standard error bands.
  • “Team assighnments are great, helps me understand better” (2018 mid-semester feedback).
  • “Class assignments were completed in groups, but then would be reviewed as a class which helped especially when I thought I knew the answer and I was either wrong or missing a key component” (2018 evaluation).
  • “I find the worksheets and the slide recaps to be extremely helpful” (2019 mid-semester feedback).
  • “I really like the in-class assignments. It allowed people to work in groups or on their own to find specific answers in the readings.” (2019 evaluation).
  • “I also liked when, as a class, we were forming arguments. It felt like we were engaging with each other, outside of our teams. In a way, we were doing what philosophers are doing, making cases and assessing other people’s arguments” (2021 mid-semester feedback).
  • “…worksheets helped a lot with understanding the concepts” (2021 evaluation).
  • “I find that talking over the team based assignments/being able to ask questions about them to be really helpful” (2022 mid-semester feedback).
  • “Easily one of my favorite professors in Stevens. I really enjoyed how well students were involved with the teaching process during lectures” (2022 evaluation).
  • “It was also good to divide us into team assignment groups. It makes it easier to ask questions/figure things out in a class full of strangers” (2023 mid-semester feedback).

My classes involve three stages of practice. The first third of class is a guided discussion through real-world examples related to the assigned material. Students spend the next third of every class in small groups completing worksheets about the assigned arguments and evidence and getting feedback from their peers. In the final third of class, groups share their answers to the worksheets and get immediate feedback from me. This social practice facilitates not only learning but cognitive empathy—that is, it helps students understand how and why peers and other smart people might disagree with them.

Exposing often overlooked puzzles in everyday life. Students are more likely to persist on difficult academic tasks if their learning has real-world and personal implications (e.g., Yeager et al., 2014). So every class begins and ends with a real-world puzzle about what we are about to learn. For example, the class before we discuss the Duhem-Quine problem about falsifying isolated hypotheses, I ask my students to explain why my smartphone will not connect to campus WIFI. Students offer hypotheses and their peers tell me how I could falsify the hypothesis. Every time a student proposes that we’ve falsified a hypothesis, I point out that the hypothesis entails an auxiliary assumption, which introduces uncertainty about whether we falsified the hypothesis or the auxiliary assumption. Similarly, every class begins with a discussion of a real-world example related to the day’s topic. For instance, on the day that we discuss Kate Rawles’ “Conservation and Animal Welfare”, we discuss both deer culling and human population control. And when we discuss W.E.B. Du Bois’ value-free ideal for science, we compare discoveries of new medicine with discoveries of new weapons of mass destruction. Other intriguing real-world examples include (but are not limited to) racial bias, psychopathy, vaccination science denial, climate science denial, and sex robots.

Counterconditioning stereotypes. Students’ perceptions of scholars are often stereotypic (e.g., Storage, Horne, Cimpian, & Leslie, 2016). I witness this on the first day of class: I ask students to imagine a scholar in a field that we will study—e.g., “Close your eyes and visualize a philosopher doing philosophy.” When students share what they imagined, we hear classic stereotypes. “An old guy” says one. “With a beard,” adds another. “Yeah, in a toga!” yells someone in the back. To improve students’ representations of my fields, I show photos of scholars as we encounter them, but only for counterstereotypic scholars (Figure 2) that counter-condition stereotypes (Byrd, 2019). On the last day of class, we redo the exercise. This time students imagine “Kate Rawles on her bike, telling me about biodiversity at a rest stop”, “Heather Douglas talking to a room of scientists about values in science”, and “Liam Bright tweeting about philosophy and science.” There are also more personal representations— “I imagined myself…,” reports a woman of color— and more abstract representations— “I was thinking of someone relatable playing devil’s advocate about all of my intuitions”, adds the student who mentioned togas on day one.

Pictures of Carol Cleland doing field research in the desert, W.E.B. Du Bois in his office at Atlanta University, and Kate Rawles on an 8288-mile educational, bike ride through South America.
Figure 2. Carol Cleland doing field research in the desert, W.E.B. Du Bois in his office at Atlanta University, and Kate Rawles on an 8288-mile educational, bike ride through South America.

In sum, evidence suggests that my courses support cognitive empathy, real-world problem-solving, and improved academic representation. Also, my methods are well-received: even in graduate school my students reported that they are more interested in my courses, that they learn more from my feedback (p = .08), and that I communicate more effectively (p = .03) than other courses and professors in my department. Of course, teaching can always benefit from further experimentation and practice. Fortunately, I find teaching highly rewarding. I would be delighted to test new courses, instruments, and strategies. I would also be glad to share and test our methods and results with my next team of colleagues.

2  DIVERSITY STATEMENT

‘Diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are not boilerplate job market terms for me. As a first-generation graduate student from a single-parent, working-class home, I have had to learn a lot about the culture of academia. So diversity and inclusion are central to my work. I am particularly interested in diagnosing barriers to diversity and inclusion, testing new diversity- and inclusion-enhancing protocols, empowering underrepresented people, and increasing accessibility.

Diagnosing barriers to diversity and inclusion. In my survey of the research, I find that (contrary to some claims) implicit bias is not entirely automatic and unconscious (Byrd, 2019). Implicitly biased behavior seems to be counter-conditioned by counterstereotypes (ibid.), suggesting that we can ameliorate biased outcomes via counterstereotypic experiences. This insight impacts all of my work.

Testing diversity and inclusion protocols. One stereotype of scholars (such as academic philosophers) is that they are old white men. Surveying my students’ stereotypes on the first day of class often confirms this. So throughout my courses I present students with counterstereotypic images of scholars. As we encounter scholars, I present photos of them—but only if they deviate from stereotypic representations of academics. Pre- vs. post-tests of what students see when they imagine scholars in my fields suggest that my students’ stereotypes of scholars become less sexist, more racially inclusive, and less conventional (Teaching Statement). These preliminary findings prompted Florida State University’s Graduate School to invite me to facilitate a Debiasing Workshop. Anonymous feedback from faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and staff was encouraging (ibid.)—for instance, a Professor of Biology shared “When Nick Byrd was talking about de-biasing I was mentally saying to myself – this is exactly what I was looking for in our teaching discussion group diversity presentation and didn’t get (not that I had a name for it at the time)! Something concrete and positive (i.e. ‘here’s something you can do’ rather than ‘avoid doing this.’)”. I hope for more opportunities to test diversity and inclusion protocols.

Empowering underrepresented people. As a first-generation graduate student, mentors and collaborators have been crucial in learning the softer skills of academic networking, norms, publishing, politics, and more. To pay it forward, I include first-generation and other under-represented colleagues and students in my projects—e.g., as collaborators, research assistants, etc. To pre-commit myself to this, I also write these colleagues and students into grant proposals (see CV).

Increasing accessibility. During the years that I struggled to get in to graduate school, I benefitted enormously from remote interactions with academics or their research. So I make myself available to more than just academics and students. I advise and mentor people who contact me on social media or my website (see CV), tailoring our conversations to advisees’ goals (Wilson, Byrd, & Torres, 2018). I have been asked to advise admissions applications, funding applications, peer-reviewed publications, and more. Many advisees have been successful. Jeremy Ben told me that I helped them choose to study philosophy at Florida State University. Ashley Taylor Potts tell me that my feedback on their funding application helped them win a generous fellowship. In addition to accessible advising, I make my research data and preprints freely accessible online. I also publish about making higher education more accessible—one paper shares the history, methods, and results of my and others’ online conferences dating back to at least 2006 (Byrd, 2021).

In short, my concern about diversity and inclusion informs and pervades every aspect of my work. I would be delighted to bring my commitment to using, testing, and sharing diversity- and inclusion-enhancing practices to your teams. With more time and collaboration, we may learn more about barriers to inclusivity, improve our interventions, empower marginalized people, and increase the accessibility of our work. [Jump To Top]

3  EVIDENCE OF TEACHING EFFECTIVENESS

3.1 Quantitative Course Evaluations at Stevens Institute of Technology

This section includes all student evaluation data for every course I taught at Stevens Institute of Technology.

Table 1. Nick Byrd’s average ratings (and standard deviations) for Stevens Institute of Technology.
Rating Scale
5 = Strongly Agree or Great Learning
4 = Agree or Significant Learning
3 = Neutral or Some New Learning
2 = Disagree or Little New Learning
1 = Strongly Disagree or No New Learning
HPL 444
Philosophy of Mind
79–91%
response rate
HPL 456
Ethics of Business & Technology

26% response rate  
HPL 442
Logic
76–100%
response rate
HPL 455
Ethical Issues in Science & Technology
86% response rate  
1. Cognitive Empathy. Example: “Are you familiar with social aspects of… scholarship, [like] discussions or debates? ’21: 4.32 (0.70)
’23: 3.73 (1.06)
’22: 4.2 (0.75) ’22: 4.67 (0.67)
’23: 4.50 (0.68)
’23: 4.47 (0.68)
2. Communication. Example: “Have you gained …writing skills, …to express complex ideas with clarity and accuracy?” ’21: 4.65 (0.48)
’23: 4.27 (0.77)
’22: 4.2 (0.75) ’22: 4.56 (0.68)
’23: 4.33 (0.68)
’23: 4.42 (0.82)
3. Domain knowledge. Example: “Do you … understand… contemporary scholarship in [this field], … debates, and concepts?” ’21: 4.45 (0.72)
’23: 4.40 (0.61)
’22: 4.4 (0.80) ’22: 4.11 (0.87)
’23: 4.17 (0.90)
’23: 4.47 (0.68)
4. Critical thinking. Example: “Did you practice constructing, criticizing arguments?” ’21: 4.67 (0.47)
’23: 4.40 (0.71)
’22: 4.6 (0.49) ’22: 4.89 (0.31)
’23: 4.50 (0.74)
’23: 4.53 (0.75)
5. Long-term learning. Example: “[Can you] read and summarize [academic] texts?”” ’21: 4.45 (0.59)
’23: 4.20 (0.91)
’22: 4.6 (0.49) ’22: 4.78 (0.63)
’23: 4.53 (0.72)
’23: 4.42 (0.82)
6. The course had good continuity, not skipping unrelatedly. ’21: 4.80 (0.40)
’23: 4.27 (0.77)
’22: 5.0 (0.00) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.44 (0.78)
’23: 4.84 (0.49)
7. The material was adequately covered in the allotted time. ’21: 4.80 (0.51)
’23: 4.27 (0.77)
’22: 5.0 (0.00) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.50 (0.81)
’23: 4.58 (0.67)
8. Student work was graded promptly. ’21: 4.85 (0.36)
’23: 4.27 (0.57)
’22: 4.8 (0.40) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.54 (0.64)
’23: 4.68 (0.57)
9. Overall: the quality of the course was excellent. ’21: 4.80 (0.40)
’23: 4.07 (0.57)
’22: 4.6 (0.49) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.37 (0.77)
’23: 4.58 (0.67)
10. The instructor was prepared for class. ’21: 4.95 (0.22)
’23: 4.33 (0.60)
’22: 5.0 (0.00) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.53 (0.59)
’23: 4.89 (0.31)
11. The instructor clearly explained course objectives and grading policy. ’21: 4.90 (0.30)
’23: 4.47 (0.81)
’22: 5.0 (0.00) ’22: 4.56 (0.50)
’23: 4.44 (0.74)
’23: 4.79 (0.41)
12. The instructor had command of the subject. ’21: 5.00 (0.00)
’23: 4.67 (0.47)
’22: 5.0 (0.00) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.73 (0.49)
’23: 4.89 (0.31)
13. The instructor successfully communicated the subject matter. ’21: 4.90 (0.30)
’23: 4.33 (0.60)
’22: 4.8 (0.40) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.53 (0.59)
’23: 4.68 (0.46)
14. The instructor was available to students. ’21: 4.95 (0.22)
’23: 4.47 (0.62)
’22: 4.8 (0.40) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.63 (0.46)
’23: 4.79 (0.41)
15. Overall: the instructor was an effective teacher. ’21: 4.95 (0.22)
’23: 4.47 (0.50)
’22: 4.8 (0.40) ’22: 4.78 (0.42)
’23: 4.43 (0.68)
’23: 4.74 (0.44)

3.2  Qualitative Course Evaluations from Stevens Institute of Technology

Below are all answers to all optional questions on all my teaching evaluations.

Please give specific comments on why you gave that evaluation [of the course], or provide suggestions on how this lecture could be improved.

HPL 442-A, Logic, Fall 2023

  • “Professor Byrd is an amazing teacher. He teaches in a way that is easy to understand, even if the material is difficult. He is available to students; I went to office hours multiple times, and I left feeling very prepared for papers/exams/homework assignments. He is very kind about matters at home; when I explained what I had going on, he gave me very meaningful advice that made me feel much better about my situation. He was also very lenient with extensions on assignments. I appreciate his anonymous grading; it pushes me to do the best I possibly can and know for a fact that there is no bias against/for me. The lessons I learned in this class have also been applied in my personal life; I can argue better, see flaws in arguments, and be more open to moral persuasion. I am sure that this course will be beneficial when I start practicing for the LSAT. While this course does require a ton of time and effort, it is 100% worth it. I plan on taking another course will him next semester to ensure I retain the material I learned in this class.”
  • “Logic has been a new topic for me in the subject of philosophy, but after this class, I see the importance it has towards not only philosophy, but all fields and careers in the world. By just learning the basics of how to form a good argument now makes me see the world differently, where I question things and statements I never questioned before. I appreciate this class, and believe everyone should take or learn the basics of logic.”
  • “I learned a lot in the class, but I think I could learn even more by having a period in the beginning of class to review the most ‘important’ questions on the team assignment. It would allow students to know the key points they are supposed to take away from the readings/ lecture because (sometimes) the short-hand feedback is not sufficient. In regards to the extra credit, while I am grateful for the opportunities, they +1 to the Classwork section, so when more team assignments are graded my overall grade decrease, ultimately decreasing my motivation to complete future extra credit assignments that have very little affect on my grade (not sure if there is another possible section the points can be distributed)”
  • “I think Mind Maps should be introduced much sooner and I think the slides should be posted. The slides don’t have to be posted right away if attendance is a concern, but having additional material to review other than only the reading and the team assignments is aways helpful.”
  • “Along with individually graded TA’s, there should be also a sample answer key posted for each. Some questions weren’t corrected making it hard to study for exams.”

HPL 442-B, Logic, Fall 2023

  • “The professor structured this class so well. He helped students gain new concepts. His lectures are well done and I like the way he teaches.”
  • “The course was well planned and structured, and the concepts discussed were useful and thought provoking. Personally, I think myself and the rest of the class would benefit from a little more strictness from the professor when it came to talking about the readings assigned before each class and how they related to each lecture topic. Maybe just starting each class asking about the reading and for someone to give a brief overview would be good. I know some students dislike it, but for me I will stop doing these readings when it feels like I don’t need to so I feel like I learn less when I am actually in class because I haven’t given myself adequate context and there is no immediate consequence.”
  • “Wish the class slides or notes were posted and there should be more focus on how to use the mindmup program. Essays assigned had somewhat vague requirements and didn’t feel like class prepared me in terms of creating our own argument.”
  • “I struggled most with the papers in this class. I will admit my shortcomings; in retrospect, I should have started the assignments earlier to be able to go to office hours and ask for help/clarification (as I know the professor is very open to helping students). However, I feel that the papers were disconnected/starkly different from the rest of the coursework; I found it quite difficult to apply what I had been learning in the course to the paper.”
  • “This class was excellent content wise, the only critique I can really give is related to the grading, overall I think the system of grading makes a lot of sense, and is designed to be a fair system, but compared to other classes it yields lower grades on average. (I don’t have data to back this up, but it definitely feels like this at least). In aiming to get an A in this class, because of how the assignments are structured, it felt a lot like I can only lose 7 points before going below an A, and that made it annoying when losing any number of points on assignments, maybe the solution would be adjusting the grading scale or adding more extra credit. The other thing is how assignments scale up in points towards the end, this is beneficial for students who don’t do as well early on, and I like that, but I’d prefer a system I’ve seen in other classes, where say, of the two tests in the class, the one you got the higher score on counts for 25% and the other counts for 10%, because I find it’s also very common for people to do well at the start but become complacent towards the end. Of course these are just suggestions and can be adjusted or disregarded, it was just the only thing that particularly stood out to me as something that could potentially be improved.”
  • “There was a significant disconnect in content covered in class and the overall big assignments of the course. Given the weight of the writing assignments, I was expecting a more time spent on reading and deconstructing arguments than was covered in class. A greater emphasis on what proper argument construction and writing looks like would make the writing assignments much easier to complete. The TA topics felt scattered and not always helpful. Additionally, having no access to the class slides/resources after the fact makes it hard to catch up in the event of a missed class or a misunderstood topic.”
  • “It would be nice for students to be able to access slides outside of lecture (I often missed some topics to use in TAs) as well as solutions to TAs to study for exams, recommend more discussion on making a good argument rather than reducing bad arguments, I also found the difference between essay 1 and 2 to be large, meaning the improvements made from the 1st did not help much for the 2nd. I did like the use of argument mapping, in class examples of discussions, most readings were interesting, and team assignments.”

HPL 444-APhilosophy of Mind, Fall 2023

  • “This class was very interesting every week, and each unit offered a new perspective or idea. I really enjoyed the entire course from beginning to end and learned a lot.”
  • “I liked how organized the class was and the syllabus made it very clear what we would be doing every lecture. Being able to work in groups to work on the TA’s really helped me understand the concepts better because I was able to explain my thoughts to my partners. And of course, I liked that we would discuss the passages that we read as a class and be able to ask questions and give comments on them.”
  • “I feel like any critique I have just boils down to the fact that I am not smart enough nor do I have the attention span for this class. I supposed accommodations like that would be useful, but I understand that it isn’t as simple as that.”
  • “I think the presentations could be more valuable. It feels like the presentations could have been done in less time, making room for more information. I think it would be valuable if the information was more actionable because the much of the information directly offered in the course isn’t directly applicable outside of academia. I felt that the course went through a fair amount of material with adequate explanation of each subject. However, I felt that some aspects were difficult to digest and did not connect well to real-world applications.”
  • “Philosophy of the mind was a great class. The part I loved about it is that there are so many ways we can infer how a person thinks. Within this class we are taught the fundamentals in making a good argument, which I believe everyone should know since it changed how I read essays and write them. An improvement I recommend is to simplify the articles we learn about a little more during lectures. I believe when the class sees the main point of an article or essay will convey the material better, and propose students to ask more questions and engage more. Other than that, this was an amazing class.”
  • “The readings touched upon interesting issues but sometimes could be difficult to understand. I felt it may have helped if more class time was dedicated to dive deeper into the main points and arguments of the readings. I liked the way the professor used a mix of mediums to test our knowledge, and that it’s was geared toward absorbing material and using that to inform our thoughts about them.”
  • “No specific comments nor suggestions”

HPL 455-A, Ethical Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2023

  • “I really like the content of this class, it can be challenging but I think overall it has made me better at formulating arguments.”
  • “We were able to cover a lot of material and work was graded quickly with helpful feedback.”
  • “I liked the flow of the course in terms of both the order of ethics/logic concepts and discussion topics; they were bridged and interconnected in a way that made sense, covering a wide span of things in appropriate depth while still feeling like a natural progression. Despite being mostly unrelated to my major, I have learned a great deal from this course and it has augmented the way I consider the world around me, the stances I take, and the way I rationalize some of my decisions.”
  • “The description of the course and the course title is incredibly misleading for what this course is actually about. We spent pretty much 70% of the time learning Logic and how logic applies to what we were doing and 30% of the time on actually discussing and looking at the ethical issues at hand. It’s not like it was a bad course on Logic, it’s just a bad course on Ethical Issues in Science and Technology. We certainly did cover material regarding it, but it’s insigni¦cant when looking at the scope of how much time we spent learning about Logic as a whole. I feel this course should be split up. A separate course on Logic would su¨ce for all the material covered here, with Ethical Issues in Sci. & Tech. seeking to strictly discuss and analyze more openly about the related. The course was good and the professor was good as well. However, it was a di¨cult course and I don’t think that students were prepared to succeed. I understand that ethics is a hard topic to teach but I think that the professor could have made more of an effort to explain and teach how to make an effective argument map because that was a core topic for the course. Because of this lack of information, it was hard to get great grades even if more effort to learn was put in outside of lectures.”
  • “I thought the class was continuous and all the topics were related in a meaningful way to each other. I wish we had more time for each paper during class though so that we would have more time to discuss is detail how the main claims related to each other and the thesis of the paper, since I remained confused about some of the claims and the argument structures for some of the papers. The TAs helped, but it took some more time for me to digest some of the arguments from the papers.”
  • “Overall the course was conducted very well, the readings were sometimes challenging, but when addressing it in class, the readings and subject made much more sense and showed their relevance to the subject. The only thing I would want to change is to put a bit more emphasis on the argument map portion of the course and spend more time going step by step on how to develop a good argument map so that we would be more prepared when it came time to write the papers.”
  • “I liked the schedule of the class – I especially like how each week is tied from the next and there is clear relevance about each topic we cover. One thing I think would be helpful is a final review session or a TA review session closer to the end of the semester or before each exam.”
  • “The only improvement I could think of would be providing answers to the team assignments after they are due so I could study the true correct answers for the tests.”

HPL 442-A, Logic, Fall 2022

  • “The operations of the course was clearly stated on the syllabus, and the professor was clear about any changes that were made throughout the semester. This class went into great detail about the technical structure and applications of logical arguments, which was very different from the usual types of writing and analysis that I did for other classes. It was great to be able to learn about this objective and systematic method of evaluating arguments and claims, which are all around us in daily conversations. The team based assignments were also much more helpful than trying to figure out the readings on my own. The only thing I somewhat struggled with was reading some of the assigned papers, since some of them had confusing concepts or language, so it might have been helpful if the professor provided a few points that we should pay attention to for next week’s papers. This course was really interesting in the fact that I have started to think very differently about everyday arguments, decisions and other regular occurrences. I think one suggestion for the course is to maybe add a third paper or some preparation for the first paper. The writing in this course was very unique were I definitely felt a bit confused in the first paper. I really enjoyed the structure of class, I think I benefited greatly from the group work time in class.”
  • “The class was alright, but it would have been much more effective if it were twice a week for one hour or 1.5 hours rather than once a week for much longer.”
  • “Use argument maps before essays. Maybe occasionally ask class to make argument maps in Team Assignments. Maybe include multiple choice. Keep Socratic circle layout. I recommend utilizing discussion feature in Canvas. I think it is underutilized. A professor once required I respond to the reading in a short blurb the night before. And we had to respond to at least 2 other students’ response. We were freshman so it was maybe a tactic to keep us accountable and on top of the readings BUT I think it definitely prepared the class better. Prof knew exactly what were some of the concerns questions interpretations the class had before starting the class and was able to efficiently tackle them. Summarizing a text makes class feel sluggish.”

HPL 456-D, Ethics of Business and Technology, Spring 2022

  • “I noticed my writing and ability to create strong arguments improve after taking this class and I am able to apply those skills to other classes as well.”
  • “Maybe have people do reading responses instead of worksheets. Worksheets are not fun. It’s not high school. Everyone decides to just to them by themselves instead of working together.”

HPL 444-B, Philosophy of Mind, Fall 2021

  • “Prof Byrd was not only excellent in the realm of communicating the information well and ensuring that we understood, but also constantly asked for and really cared about the feedback we gave him.”
  • “I think this class was very interesting and informative. In the beginning of the course I felt there were less options for seeing how well we were doing with graphing the concepts, but once the transition was made to go over a couple questions together as a class I felt more comfortable with how I was doing.”
  • “I appreciated that this course had a degree of interaction to it, rather than simply consisting of a two and a half hour long lecture; worksheets helped a lot with understanding the concepts.”
  • “I think that though the topics where covered in the time given, that often I was still unsure about the exact connections and answers between the readings and assignments and would have has better been able to understand by going over things as a class instead of with my assigned group.”
  • “This course was very structured and presented in a way in which each topic was able to build off of the last, making it very easy to understand the content.”
  • “I think the beginning readings were quite difficult, but only because of the given context at when they were written. I think it might be difficult to find easier texts, maybe it would help to explain certain concepts before the reading.”
  • “Work was graded quickly and with feedback. I also liked the incorporation of group activities (team based assignments).”

Please give specific comments on why you gave that evaluation [of the instructor], or provide suggestions on how this lecture could be improved.

HPL 442-A, Logic, Fall 2023

  • “Professor Byrd is always prepared for every class. I think the best thing about Professor Byrd is how he coveys the material so well that even if you haven’t taken the class, you will understand. That is what he emphasizes to all of his students when writing essays or doing homework, to explain the material as if you were teaching someone who has no information about it. This will be a message I will always remember for the rest of my life, whether I am writing essays, teaching and speaking.”
  • “The instructor can make himself more approachable, as the policies laid out in the syllabus (in particular The Pre-Grading Policy) made me scared to ask questions.”
  • “I think the class can be improved by posting sample answer keys for some if not all questions on the team assignments. Though the team assignments are graded with feedback. Sometimes it is difficult to know how to apply the feedback.”
  • “The only issue I had is that the professor was usually 5-10 minutes late to class. Otherwise he was engaging and good at explaining concepts.”
  • “In the future, I think the professor could make the grading rubric available to students so they have a better understanding of what is expected. It was difficult for many of my peers to meet the expectations of the professor to receive a good grade on the paper assignments, even after applying the feedback from the first paper. When working in team assignments, my group mates did not respond to my questions (I think 1 dropped the class), so it was difficult to work work with my peers and talk through solutions – maybe there can be a reassignment of teams after the add/ drop period to improve participation in groups.”

HPL 442-B, Logic, Fall 2023

  • “I was never bored during any of the 2-hour long classes, something I cannot say about any other class I’ve taken of this length, and I felt like he understood the material very well. Conversations were thought provoking. I was happy with his enthusiasm. I stayed after class to discuss a question once, and we disagreed about the answer, throughout the entire conversation he was very respectful and we had an interesting discussion about the question for 30+ minutes. I like that I was given a level of respect I feel no other professor would have given me, it didn’t feel like we were talking about why I was wrong, but trying to arrive at the correct answer, and it made the conversation much more productive.”
  • “Nick Byrd is a great professor and is very straightforward. He always knew what he was talking about and offered help to students.”
  • “Understood the subject material and taught it nicely”

HPL 444-A, Philosophy of Mind, Fall 2023

  • “Professor Byrd was very personable and punctual. He always made sure to fulfill his promises and always made the class fun and engaging. He set clear goals and made sure each student could succeed.”
  • “Nick is a great instructor and scholar, but I got the feeling he was not satisfied with his predicament in relation to the course and school. Honestly, it’s the same most other course evaluations. It’s Stevens’ fault, Nick. Not yours. Which isn’t out of the ordinary.”
  • “I think that you could be more timely (its not the time so much as it is the fact it reflects how important you feel the course is). I feel like you could present more in the time allotted (it sometimes feels like there is a lot of silence while up there, might reflect a lack of command over the material (note: when you present you research it is so much better)). Obviously there are positives too.”
  • “I feel that Professor Byrd is well versed in this ¦eld and has a deep understanding of what he teachers. However, I found that his style of teaching is very much centered around his train of thought. Additionally, his requirements for assignments are not made as clear as I believe they should be considering how specific they are and easy to look over when focusing on large amounts of work for other classes and lectures.”
  • “Professor Byrd is always prepared for every class. I think the best thing about Professor Byrd is how he coveys the material so well that even if you haven’t taken the class, you will understand. That is what he emphasizes to all of his students when writing essays or doing homework, to explain the material as if you were teaching someone who has no information about it. This will be a message I will always remember for the rest of my life, whether I am writing essays, teaching and speaking.”
  • “Professor cared about student success as he made sure we had plenty of opportunities to meet if we had any questions and didn’t let time limits get into the way of test performance. He brought interesting ideas and was always accepting of new ideas from students.”
  • “Very engaging and does a good job at explain concepts and clearing up any confusion that we have. Very flexible and quick to respond Professor Byrd showed up to class and taught. Not much more you can ask for.”

HPL 455-A, Ethical Issues in Science and Technology, Spring 2023

  • “The instructor actively engages with our ideas in class; he eagerly accepts and contemplates arguments/questions that challenge his view in a scholarly manner, which has positively shaped the way I evaluate and question not just course materials but everything in my life. The infusion of discussion into the lectures was therefore good for me, as the lecture provided structure and the professor made the discussion really beneficial. He also never makes you feel stupid or judged, both in class and 1-on-1 (which frankly isn’t the case with all professors and PhD holders). Dr. Byrd is a highly competent, humble, and engaging professor. He could teach a class about the most boring, irrelevant thing on the planet and I’d still walk out of it improved as a person just from being subjected to the way he thinks about/engages with things and conveys it. I am really glad I had the opportunity to learn from him. Excellent teacher and person.
  • “I can’t tell if the issues I mentioned about the course can be applied to the course as a whole or if it’s just the way Professor Nick Byrd goes about teaching it. I don’t know of any other professors who teach this course or how they conduct it, but if this is exclusive to the way Nick Byrd teaches it, then my issues are directed to him. He is an excellent professor, just not what I was expecting going into a course about Ethical Issues in what the description outlined.
  • “The professor made great use of the class time. 2.5 hours is a very long stretch of time to have a class but he was able to utilize it well to make it not feel too long. Additionally, the professor was very open to office hour appointments to help with the paper or anything else which was very helpful. However, I think that it would have been helpful to learn more about the argument maps and how to make a good one because that is essential for the class and it was not explained well. Even though I put in more effort outside of class, it was still difficult to get a grasp of the topic.”
  • “I appreciated how he always accommodated for my needs and always made time to meet outside of class to help with subject matter and writing.”
  • “Professor Byrd was always available either through email or office hours to answer any question and was consistantly prepared for class. I also appreciated his efforts to remain neutral on subjects and communicate where he might have biases when it came to certain fields.
  • “It is easy to tell that Professor Byrd has command of his subject, and cares about the opinions and experience of his students. He is an excellent professor”

HPL 442-A, Logic, Fall 2022

  • “The professor had strong command of the subject and was clear with his announcements and policies. Sometimes his explanations could be confusing, but since he was readily available to students and was willing to go over topics, that was not a huge issue. It might have been helpful if he provided more details about his expectations on the paper assignments and spent more time on the application side so that we had more time to practice applying the concepts we learned.”
  • “Easily one of my favorite professors in Stevens. I really enjoyed how well students were involved with the teaching process during lectures.”

HPL 456-D, Ethics of Business and Technology, Spring 2022

  • “Professor Byrd actively communicates with students about grading and how to be successful in the course, uses feedback to improve the class, and is available to students. Grading rewards improvement over the course of the semester which makes for a great learning experience.”
  • “Sometimes the professor didn’t seem approachable enough for me to be able to comfortably ask questions. A little intimidating because if the class doesn’t answer something during his lecture he will just skip it because he thinks nobody is paying attention, but people are just confused and trying to process.”

HPL 444-B, Philosophy of Mind, Fall 2021

  • “He very much was a teacher who listened to his students. Something he did that no other teachers I know have done is do a mid semester course evaluation. This let us anonymously give what we liked and didn’t like, and he appropriately improved for the rest of the semester!”
  • “The instructor was always very prepared for class and was able to present the course content in a way that was easy for the students to understand. He was also very open to being asked questions and was always very helpful when a student needed it.”
  • “Professor Byrd was a really great teacher. He always listened carefully to our questions and gave in depth answers. The articles he chose to share with us were topical and if they were complex he took the time to make sure they were well understood. I can tell he is very committed to philosophy through his in depth understanding of each of the articles and their writers and his own papers that he shared with us.”
  • “I believe that Dr. Byrd did a very good job at teaching the course. He was always prepared for class, was enthusiastic about the topic and wanted the students to have such appreciation and understanding.”
  • “I think that the instructor, and all Stevens professors, would be better suited giving meetings exclusively over zoom along with a website or system besides email to set meetings up Honestly one of the best professors I’ve ever had He was good at breaking down complex philosophical concepts in ways that were easy to understand.”

3.3 Quantitative Course Evaluations at Florida State University

What follows is all student evaluation data about my teaching effectiveness for all of my face-to-face courses at Florida State University, starting with my average ratings compared to department and university average ratings (Table 2 below) and then the distribution of my own ratings (Figure 3 below).

Table 2. Nick Byrd’s average ratings (and standard deviations) at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Rating Scale5 = Strongly Agree or Excellent
4 = Agree or Above Satisfactory
3 = Neutral or Satisfactory
2 = Disagree or Below Satisfactory
1 = Strongly Disagree or Poor

2018

PHI 2010-0001
Introduction to Philosophy

100% response rate

2019

PHI 2010-0011
Introduction to Philosophy

68.42% response rate

1. The course materials helped me understand the subject matter.

4.26

4.31

2. The work required of me was appropriate based on course objectives.

4.44

4.69

3. The tests, project, etc. accurately measured what I learned in this course.

4.17

4.69*

4. This course encouraged me to think critically.

4.53

4.69

5. I learned a great deal in this course.

4.22

4.46

6. Nicholas Byrd provided clear expectations for the course.

4.59

4.62

7. Nicholas Byrd communicated effectively.

4.67

4.62**

8. Nicholas Byrd stimulated my interest in the subject matter.

4.44

4.31

9. Nicholas Byrd provided helpful feedback on my work.

4.50

4.69

10. Nicholas Byrd demonstrated respect for students.

4.72

4.69

11. Nicholas Byrd demonstrated mastery of the subject matter.

4.69

4.62

12. Overall course content rating.

4.22

4.38

13. Overall rating for Nicholas Byrd.

4.56

4.77

Bold indicates better than department and/or university average.
* better than department average at p < 0.1.
** better than department average at p < 0.05.

The distribution of Nick Byrd's teaching evalution ratings.
Figure 3. Distribution of numerical ratings per teaching evaluation item and per rating level.

3.4 Qualitative Course Evaluations from Florida State University

Below are all answers to all optional questions on all my teaching evaluations at Florida State University.

What did you like about the course and/or instructor, Nicholas Byrd? Please give examples.

PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy, Summer 2018

  • “He makes everything easy and understandable and if you don’t understand something all you have to do is ask and he’ll try his best to help you understand.”
  • “His work ethic and his attitude towards the course”
  • “I like how he ask if any body have a question on the worksheet he gives out.”
  • “Great teaching style.”
  • “Nick Byrd is an amazing teacher.. I highly recommend taking intro to philosophy with him. Especially if you are new to philosophy and aren’t a fan of the subject. You will find yourself enjoying the class even if you find the concept of philosophy infuriating. This class satisfied my Ethics requirement. I really enjoyed Nick’s teaching style and his openness to everyone’s thoughts and idea’s. I am also very grateful for his clear expectations when it comes to writing papers. It makes it a lot easier to write when you know what the instructor is looking for. I also really, really, REALLY appreciate the text book being provided for us. It saved me a lot of money. I hope Nick never becomes one of those conceited professors that makes you purchase a $500 textbook just because he wrote it.”
  • “Mr. Byrd was a very nice teacher and obviously knew a great deal about the philosophy he was teaching.”
  • “he cares about the class and try to reach the students”
  • “Byrd is genuinely cares about his students understanding our subject matter.”

PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy, Summer 2018

  • “Fantastic professor, genuinely helped us learn effectively rather than feed us the material. Give this man a raise, he is in the top 3 best professors I have had in the last 5 years here.”
  • “Everything was straight-forward and the course was very interesting overall. He was very clear in his expectations which was shown right from the beginning through the syllabus.”
  • “I enjoyed this course much more than I thought I would because the way he taught this course stimulated my interest and it was clear what was expected of me.”
  • “He was a great teacher with a nerdy sense of humor.”

What aspects of the course and/or Nicholas Byrd’s instructional methods should be improved? Please give examples.

PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy, Summer 2019

  • “I do believe that the answers to the Team Based Assignments should be clearer at the end but then again he does ask if anyone has questions pertaining to the Assignment”
  • “None”
  • “Maybe up date his slides a little bit”
  • “Nothing”
  • “I wasn’t a big fan of the i clickers. Maybe it’s just because I have a small class, but I feel like the quizzes could just as easily been taken on paper. I also wish that when it came to the test, I had something else to study besides the Team Based Assignments. Only because sometimes I fear my Team Based Assignment answers aren’t always correct or explained in full detail. I would appreciate something more clear and definite to study when it came to tests.”
  • “I really like the in-class assignments. It allowed people to work in groups or on their own to find specific answers in the readings. But I believe a more effective method for learning philosophy are the in-class discussions, with the teacher leading the discussions based on the questions that are on the in-class assignments.”
  • “no not really”
  • “Nothing”

PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy, Summer 2018

  • “N/A”
  • “Towards the beginning, class assignments were completed in groups and turned in at the end of class. It was a bit difficult to see whether I fully understood the concepts or I was fooling myself. However, as the semester went on, class assignments were completed in groups, but then would be reviewed as a class which helped especially when I thought I knew the answer and I was either wrong or missing a key component. I would say for future classes to explicitly allot time to review assignments as a class. Also, an example of a great paper would have been helpful (not necessary, but helpful).”

Please list additional comments and/or suggestions.

PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy, Summer 2019

  • “Love his class”
  • “None.”
  • “nope”
  • “Love having Instructor Byrd his class is true an educational experience.”

PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy, Summer 2018

  • “Great class : )”
  • “Without seeing a rubric or example solution on test problems it is difficult to see that points aren’t just arbitrary assigned. It seemed like the tests where just shorter, faster essays. In my opinion tests and essays should like the “two halves of the brain”. Essays are for generating original thoughts (it is fair to take off points for clarity, concision, and creativity) and tests are for testing the knowledge and understanding of a student. In the case of tests, a student should indicate their knowledge by the means provided. If they succeed at indicating sufficient understanding but fail to do it in a concise, clear way, then they have still met the criteria of a test and should not be punished. Just because the knowledge is absent on the paper, doesn’t mean the knowledge is absent in the student’s mind. If this occurs often, it is an indication that the question (and the expectations of the question) are not clear to the student. It is unlikely a student would intentionally jeopardize their grade. If an innocent person is testifying in court, an attorney can make them appear guilty simply by asking them questions. And you wouldn’t fault the witness for answering these question to the best of their ability. I concede that it may be impossible to know whether a student misunderstood the problem but understood the material, or the student didn’t understand the material at all. However, tests can be designed to minimize this effect. One measure is to avoid asking more than one problem (prompt) per question. Much like an argument, the answer to a question can only have one conclusion. Scrutinizing a single response to two questions is much easier, because that response has to work much harder. Additionally, if there is one response per question there is less room for the answer to hide. In conclusion, I don’t really think the tests accurately measured my understanding and knowledge in the course. It may appear like they are effective, because it properly sorts who you think show the most promise and those you do not. To many, capital punishment appears effective, but is it effective if it condemns innocent people?”

3.5 Quantitative Course Evaluations at  University of Colorado (Boulder)

What follows is all student evaluation data about my teaching effectiveness for all of my face-to-face recitations at University of Colorado (Table 3).

Table 3. Nick Byrd’s average ratings compared to department and university average ratings.
Rating Scale (unless defined otherwise)6 = Highest

1 = Lowest
2013
PHI 2010-108
Philosophy and the Sciences
(38% response rate)
2013
PHI 2010-102
Philosophy and the Sciences
(10% response rate)
3. Rate the instructor’s effectiveness in encouraging interest in the subject. 5.4**† 5.0*
4. Rate the instructor’s availability for course-related assistance such as email, office hours, individual appointments, phone contact, etc. 5.6*† 6.0**††
5. Rate the intellectual challenge of this course. 4.8*† 5.0**†
6. Rate how much you have learned in this course. 4.8* 6.0**††
7. Rate the course overall. 4.8* 6.0**††
8. Rate the instructor overall. 5.8**†† 6.0**††
9. Rate the instructor’s respect for professional treatment of all students regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. 6.0**†† 6.0**††
10. My class attendance was 5.2 4.0
11. My effort given to this class was 4.6 4.0
17. Pace material was presented
1 = too slow, 2 = slow, 3 = ok, 4 = fast, 5 = too fast
3.4 3.0
18. Grading for course level.
1 = too hard, 2 = hard, 3 = ok, 4 = easy, 5 = too easy
2.8 3.0
19. Course content was
1 = too easy, 2 = easy, 3 = ok, 4 = hard, 5 = too hard
4.2 4.0
53. Instructor made me think. 5.2 5.0
58. Course was presented in an understandable manner. 4.3 4.0
86. Is accessible to students outside of class: 4.8 6.0
Bold indicates better than department and/or university average

* indicates top 25th percentile in department, ** indicates top 10th percentile in department

† indicates top 25th percentile on campus, †† indicates top 10th percentile on campus

shaded  indicates lack of data about department or campus

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3.6 Qualitative Course Evaluations from University of Colorado (Boulder)

Please offer constructive comments to your instructor regarding your experience in this course.

  • “Nicholas is incredible. Definitely was fully committed to helping students learn. Thank you The only think I would change is to try to make the study groups more required because the only way to make the readings come alive is to talk with others.” (PHIL 1400-108, Philosophy and the Science, Fall 2013)
  • “Nick did a really nice job of explaining the readings and coming up with questions for discussion. He was always well prepared and lead the discussions effectively. I always felt more prepared going into the lectures, writing papers, and taking quizzes after going to discussion.” (PHIL 1400-108, Philosophy and the Science, Fall 2013)

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3.7 Quantitative Teaching Observations

What follows are all quantitative teaching observation scores from guest lectures in chronological order from left to right (Table 4).

Table 4. Nick Byrd’s average ratings for guest lectures at Florida State University.
Rating Scale 1 = not effective
2 = needs more emphasis
3 = accomplished
4 = accomplished very well
2015Jack JustusEnv. Ethics 2016Jack JustusEnv. Ethics 2016Daniel MillerIntro. to Philosophy 2019Mike BishopIntro. to Philosophy
Organization: Overall Judgment 4 4 4 4
1. Presented introduction to the lesson. 4 4 4 4
2. Presented topics in a logical, well paced sequence. 4 4 4 4
3. Relates Lesson to previous material. 4 4 4 4
4. Summarized major points and left students thinking. 3 4 4 4
Presentation: Overall Judgment 4 4 4 4
5. Explained content with clarity, defining terms and concepts. 4 4 4 4
6. Used good examples to clarify important points. 4 4 4 4
7. Used visuals/handouts effectively (when relevant). 4 4 4 4
8. Varied explanations for complex or difficult material. 4 4 4 4
9. Spoke at an effective volume and speed. 3 3 4 4
10. Used gestures and moved in the classroom effectively. N/A 3 4 4
Interaction: Overall judgment 3 4 4 4
11. Actively encouraged and responded to student questions. 3 3 4 4
12. Monitored student understanding. 4 4 4 4
13. Waited sufficient time for students to answer questions. 4 4 4 4
14. Showed enthusiasm about the content of the class. 4 3 4 4
15. Maintained command of the class. 3 4 4 4
16. Treated all students with respect. 4 4 4 4
Content: Overall Judgment 3 4 4 4
17. Presented material at an appropriate level for the students. 3 4 4 4
18. Presented material relevant to the purpose of the course. 3 4 4 4
19. Demonstrated command of the subject matter. 4 4 4 4
20. Inspired students’ interest in the material. 3 3 4 4

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3.8 Qualitative Teaching Observations

What follows is all answers to all teaching observation questions from Florida State University.

What were the instructor’s major strengths as demonstrated in this observation?

  • “Excellent hook at the beginning of class, and excellent visuals. Thorough coverage of the reading’s content.” James “Jack” Justus (2015)
  • “Truly superb powerpoint presentation with the material laid out extremely clearly, and in impressive depth. In terms of information conveyed on the screen, about as through and clear as it can get (more so than my own on average, I believe). Even keel disposition with respect to student questions / comments, and always respectful and patient.” James “Jack” Justus (2015)
  • “Nick’s lecture was excellent. He lectured on how two types of reasoning (“intuitive reasoning” and “reflective”) are related to the formation of deeply held beliefs. Nick focused primarily on beliefs related to philosophical topics, such as religion and ethics. He began with a light-hearted but stimulating anecdote illustrating how intuitive and reflective reasoning styles have played a role in the development of his own beliefs. He then invited students to critique an intuitive moral principle, by which he immediately elicited student participation and dialogue about their own reasoning. The examples used helpfully illustrated how different judgments tend to arise from different reasoning styles. Nick fielded questions and comments with competency and charity, capably guiding the conversation toward the lesson while affirming students’ insights along the way. The PowerPoint presentation was first-rate, serving as a useful road map for students but never overloading them with too much information. Nick’s tone was relaxed but engaging, and he was able to maintain students’ attention throughout. Nick’s lecture demonstrated both competency with the subject matter and careful preparation.” Daniel James Miller (2016)
  • “The atmosphere in the class was excellent. Students were attentive, thinking about the material, and offering their thoughts on the material in class. Nick has a nice classroom persona. It’s not flashy or hammy. It’s calm, clear, respectful, and serious. And as a result, that’s also the class’s “persona” as well. Nick knew the students’ names and this contributed to the healthy atmosphere in the class. The students behaved as if they felt understood and respected as individuals. The handout for the team‐based assignment was excellent. Nick had come up with examples for the students to think about that required them to not simply regurgitate the material, but to apply the material to interesting and sometimes tricky cases. Although it was fairly early in the semester and this was an intro class (and so it’s unlikely that the students had much experience with philosophy), Nick already had the students actively *doing* philosophy. This is impressive. The overall course (as represented in his syllabus) is thoughtful and well-organized.” Michael Bishop (2019)

What weaknesses were observed? What suggestions do you have for improving them?

  • “Pacing – sometimes it was not fast enough to sustain and catalyze interest. Long pauses – they can be effective, but need to be used sparingly and strategically. Sometimes the questions being asked were likely not clear to the students and sometimes the questions were too obvious, which quells interest. Along the same lines, don’t answer your own questions after you’ve posed them and been greeted with silence. After a few times you answer your before they do they learn by induction.” James “Jack” Justus (2015)
  • “The main weakness is noncognitive, but something that can enhance the uptake of cognitive material by students in the class. It can be derided as the “entertainment” aspect of teaching, but presenting things in a certain forceful way can help ensure students are as engaged as they can be. (Of course, this kind of presentation also creates greater risks on the part of an instructor.) That noncognitive aspect to teaching is something Nick should would on, and it is admittedly something that typically requires a lot of hours to acquire and perfect. But given Nick’s quick uptake in general, I have little doubt about his eventual mastery of this aspect of teaching.” James “Jack” Justus (2016)
  • “None.” Daniel James Miller
  • “Nick’s is not a “standard” intro course. It’s individual to Nick and his conception of philosophy. This sort of pedagogical ambition is admirable and worth encouraging. But it means that Nick has made some choices, sometimes bold choices, about his class. While I don’t think any of his choices are wrong, I do think that it‘s worthwhile to make explicit to Nick some of his choices so that he can think about whether to keep them or revise them. We spoke about a number of these choices. (One we all face: To what extent should we ask closed-ended questions, which tend to make discussion a bit more difficult.) But two choices I think are specific to Nick’s course and are worth mentioning here: 1. Discussing philosophical method early in an intro course is a bold choice. And there’s certainly justification for it. But doing this section at the end of the semester – or in an upper-level class – might be more useful to the students, as they’re likely to be better informed and better prepared for such a discussion. 2. The debate over rationalism and empiricism is, in my view, somewhat fuzzy. Besides there being disagreements about what these terms mean, some people take this debate to be an epistemological one, and others take it to be a psychological one. It can be very difficult to keep such an ungainly issue on track in an intro class. Nick did a very good job with this. But he might have been giving himself – and his students – a bigger challenge than is ideal in the first third of an intro class.” Michael Bishop (2019)

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3.9 Teaching Workshops Offered

Debiasing in the Classroom: Whether and how it works (Florida State University)
Workshop description. When it comes to implicit bias, there is good news and bad news. Sustained changes in implicit bias seem to require regular exposure to experiences that last more than just a few minutes. So, the bad news is that researchers will rarely change implicit biases with brief, one-shot experimental manipulations. The good news, however, is that we can probably reduce implicit biases over time by being more careful about whether and how we include people in leadership, decisions, departments, and instruction. This presentation and its take-home handout (1) reviews two methodologically strong debiasing experiments, (2) presents the qualitative results of an easy-to-use debiasing protocol for presentations and teaching, and (3) prompts discussion about how these findings apply to your work. This is the second part of the two-part Spring Conversation Series of the Diversity & Inclusion in Research and Teaching Organization.
Workshop size. 29 faculty, 34 graduate students, 18 undergraduates, 12 staff, 1 “other”
Workshop feedback. Below is all feedback pertaining to Nick’s presentation, unmodified.

  • “When Nick Byrd was talking about de-biasing I was mentally saying to myself – this is exactly what I was looking for in our teaching discussion group diversity presentation and didn’t get (not that I had a name for it at the time)! Something concrete and positive (i.e. ‘here’s something you can do’ rather than ‘avoid doing this.’)” (Faculty, Biological Science)
  • “Both presenters were excellent at navigating the space of being honest educators and accessible facilitators. They were friendly and relatable while not compromising the messages of the presentations. I very much appreciated this approach and think that it is more effective for workshops such as this where several people can come in feeling uncomfortable or nervous because of preconceived notions. – Grad student, music”
  • “The materials and discussions were helpful. I am super impressed! – Faculty, Communication and Information Studies”
  • “It was really enlightening to 1) admit to my own biases, 2) hear others’ biases, 3) learn tools for debiasing, 4) discuss how bias affects others, and 5) learn tools for communicating about 2 diversity promotion. – Grad student, Arts and Sciences, Biological Science”
  • “I thought the shorter thought exercises with brief group conversations were most effective *for this type of brief event.* – Faculty, Communication and Information Studies”
  • “My first time was a great time, so no criticism here! – Undergrad, Human Sciences, Family and Child Sciences”
  • “What I found helpful and liked best was sitting a table with people I did not know sharing their stories and experiences openly and without judgement. I felt like I had a deeper understanding of the topic and learned about how other people view bias. Well done workshop! – Staff, Nursing”

Experiments Are The New Armchairs: The IRB for philosophers (University of Colorado)
Workshop description. Experimental philosophy can take many forms. However, all of its forms seem to require approval from an Institutional Review Board (IRB). To the uninitiated, the IRB proposal process can seem daunting. In this workshop, I will complete a sample IRB proposal, offer tips (e.g., how to perform a statistical power analysis), and answer questions. If you follow along on your own device, then you could have most of your IRB proposal completed by the end of the workshop.
Workshop size. 1 faculty, 4 graduate students

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3.10 Other Teaching Service

Syllabi Showcase: “Introduction to Philosophy” by Nick Byrd, APA Blog (October 2019)
Description. The Showcase features a select number of syllabi. The goal is to highlight best practices in pedagogy. Philosophy instructors share their favorite syllabi, discuss how they developed it, and describe the thinking behind their pedagogy. In this post, we hear about Nick Byrd’s Introduction to Philosophy that employs—among other things—a free textbook, daily group-based activities, and concise writing assignments of just two to three paragraphs.

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3.11 Formal Teaching Training

PHI 5998, Tutorial in Philosophy Teaching (3 credits), Florida State University — Michael Bishop

Course Description. The aim of this course is to help you become a great teacher. This should raise (at least) two questions in your mind. Theoretical question: What is a great teacher? Practical Question: What do you have to do – if anything – to become a great teacher? The theoretical and practical questions are linked, of course. What you think a great teacher does has implications for what you think a great teacher is. What you think a great teacher is has implications for what you think a great teacher does. We’ll spend the semester bouncing back and forth between these questions. You will give and record two short lessons – one at the beginning of the semester and another at the end of the semester, lead a class discussion on (at least) one chapter from James M. Lang’s Small Teaching, compose a teaching portfolio, two sample syllabi, and samples of teaching instruments.

Eastern American Philosophical Association Conference, Teaching Hub, 2019, NYC
Evaluating Inclusion in Course Design and Syllabi

Program for Instructional Excellence Workshops, 2015 to 2018, Florida State University
Positions Outside of Academia
Engaging Students with Blogs, Wikis, and Social Media Tools
Open Access
How to Create a Teaching Portfolio
Faculty in a Research 1 University
Engaging Students with Social Media, Apps, and More
Preparing Cover Letters & Application Packets for Academic Positions

Program for Instructional Excellence Conference, 8/20-8/21, 2014, Florida State University
Academic Honor Policies
FERPA and Americans with Disabilities
Sexual Harassment-Retaliation

Graduate Teacher Program, University of Colorado (Boulder)
The Art of The 50-minute Lesson Plan
Understanding Different Teaching Styles
Managing Conflict in the Classroom
Holding Effective Office Hours
Case Method of Teaching: Participant-Centered Teaching
Finding Your Comfort Zone in Teaching & Learning
Applying The Problem Orientation Framework to and Environmental Studies Classroom
Evernote: Your Every-Where System for Personal Productivity
Getting Students to Go Beyond Google: Using Library Resources
Using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Improve Student Discussion and Writing
Running Recitations & Labs
Understanding Classrroom Interactions Via Interactive Theatre
Getting to Know Desire to Learn (and Other Learning Management Systems)
Discrimination & Harassment
Honor Code & Teaching Ethics
Flipping the Classroom: Interactive Learning
Research Ethics & Working With Your Faculty Advisor
Preparing Your Teaching Portfolio
Goal Setting for Academic Success
Reading Writably and Writing Readably

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4  COURSE MATERIALS

4.1 Courses I am Prepared to Teach

Introductory-Level

  • Critical Thinking
  • Ethics
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Symbolic Logic

Intermediate-Level

  • Cognitive Science
  • Environmental Ethics
  • History of Science: Newton to Contemporary Science
  • Philosophy of Science

Advanced undergraduate or graduate level

  • Applied Ethics
  • Cognitive Science of Religion
  • Ethics of Business and/or Technology
  • Experimental Philosophy
  • Dual Process Theory
  • Moral Psychology
  • Philosophy & Science of Mind
  • Well-being

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4.2 Courses I Can Teach with Advance Notice

  • Causation
  • Epistemology
  • Ethics of Computers, Data, and Digital Technology
  • Feminist Ethics
  • Feminist Philosophy of Science
  • Introduction to Humanities
  • Metaphysics
  • Modern Philosophy
  • Non-western Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Psychology
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy of Statistics
  • Political Philosophy
  • Social Psychology
  • Positive Psychology

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4.3 Introduction to Philosophy

The following materials are for the most recent section of the Introduction to Philosophy course that I offered (Summer 2019): syllabus, course schedule, grading rubric, sample paper prompt, and sample in-class worksheet.

Course Overview

Did you know that people who study philosophy make significantly fewer reasoning errors than others? (See Livengood et al 2010 and Byrd 2023). Did you know that philosophy majors outperform basically everyone else on the GRE? Did you know that philosophy majors’ median mid-career salary has been about $10,000 higher than median U.S. household income? Did you know that philosophy majors have been projected to be the top-paid humanities major? Find out more about philosophy majors here. If you’ve never taken a philosophy class, here are some tips. Or maybe you already know about philosophy—e.g., that it’s relevant to what we often worry about:

Career/Vocation. What should (and shouldn’t) I do for money? What should I do with my time? My skills?
Finances. How much does a good life cost? What should (and shouldn’t) I buy? Sell? What’s a fair wage? Who gets to decide? How should we decide?
Facts. When can we trust people, institutions, test results, evidence, etc.? How? And why? What can’t we trust? How do we decide? How should we decide?
Lifestyle. What should (or shouldn’t) I do with my body? What should (or shouldn’t) I eat? How can we cause harm, if at all?
Politics. What institutions/policies/candidates should have power (if any)? How should we decide? Who cares?
Relationships. What makes a relationship/friend/partner good? What makes them bad? Should I marry? Who gets to decide?

Course Objectives

Discover philosophers’ tools. This class will introduce us to new (and hopefully better) tools for answering these questions. So, by learning these tools in class (and outside of class), then we could think (and hopefully live) better. Specifically, we could improve our ability to analyze and evaluate real-world problems, arguments, evidence, and/or principles. That is both good news and bad news—ask me about this in class some time.

Master those tools: Learning the tools of philosophical analysis and evaluation is not very difficult. However, applying these rules to new material without a philosopher’s guidance can be surprisingly hard. The best medicine seems to be practice. So, practice. And practice again (not just in the classroom). And make sure that at least some of your practice conditions mimic assignment and test conditions—e.g., write your answers with some kind of time constraint and without immediate access to the answers.

Course Materials

Course Grading

Your final grade is determined by various aspects of the course. Early assignments count less than later assignments so that someone can make common mistakes early in the course and still get an A in the course—assuming they learn from mistakes, of course. (You’re welcome.)

Bluebooks 5% You need to turn in 2 large (8.5-inch x 11-inch) blue/green books during the first week. The campus bookstore sells them for less than $1.00. I will return one to you on each test days.
Paper 1 10% Two paragraphs—yes, two. In the first paragraph, explain the strongest version of an argument (that I select). In the second paragraph, explain what you think is the strongest objection to the argument.
Test 1 10% Multiple choice, short answer, and 1-2 paragraph answers in aforementioned Bluebook.
Classwork 25% You will complete assignments in class—in teams, if you want. You will also discuss in class. If not enough people are participating in the discussion, then I can choose people at random. Classes can also include quizzes that can occur at any time.
Paper 2 25% Like Paper 1, but about a different argument (that I select) and with a third paragraph: what you take to be the strongest counter-response to the strongest objection to the argument.
Test 2 25% Like Test 1, but cumulative—i.e., anything from the course can be on this test. (Don’t ask me what you need to know. I would never encourage you to be ignorant of anything).

Rounding Up/Down

Final grade percentages will be rounded up/down as appropriate.(For instance, 89.5% will be rounded up to 90% and 89.4% will be rounded down to 89%.)

Grading Scale

Final grades for the course will be assigned on the following scale:

A 92.5% to 100%
A- 89.5% to 92.49%
B+ 86.5% to 89.49%
B 82.5% to 86.49%
B- 79.5% to 82.49%
C+ 76.5% to 79.49%
C 72.5% to 76.49%
C- 69.5% to 72.49%
D 59.5% to 69.49%
F 0% to 59.49%

Paper Feedback

I will comment on your papers using shorthand. The key to understanding that shorthand can be found in “Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback“.

Course Schedule

The average reading is less than 10 pages! (You’re welcome). So, you have no (good) excuse for not reading the assigned reading (at least once) before every class. (And yes: there is assigned reading before the first day of class.) If you are looking for ways to read faster, see “Text-to-speech for speed reading and more“.

Part 1: The Basics

Section 1: Read the Syllabus before class. During class, complete a Pre-test, do some myth-busting, and review the syllabus.
Section 2: Read Self-taught Logic, Unit 1 (to the end of Section 2) before class. During class, review the basics a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 3: Read Self-taught Logic, Unit 2 (to the end of the unit) before class. During class, go over the new material as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 4: Read “A Right To Believe?” before class. During class, go over one part of the reading and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.

Part 2: The Method

Section 5: Read “Appealing to Intuition” before class. During class, discuss appeals to intuition as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 6: Read “Armchair Science” (or “The Epistemology of Thought Experiments” for majors) before class. During class, discuss thought experiments as a class, and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 7: Read “An Experimental Philosophy Manifesto” before class. During class, discuss skepticism as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.

** Paper
1 due (online and hardcopy). **

Part 3: The Facts

Section 8: Read pages 3-10 (“The Problem of Induction”) of The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Sect. 1, 3) before class. During class, discuss some history of science as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 9: Read “Scientific Inquiry: Invention and Test” before class (available upon request). During class, discuss the logic of hypothesis testing and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 10: Read “An Experiment In Physics Can Never…” (a.k.a. “Physical Theory and Experiment“) before class. During class, discuss everyday cases of hypothesis testing and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.

** Test 1: Study your notes, in-class assignments, and ask about what is still confusing to you during class and/or office hours. **

Section 11: Read chapter 4 of Beyond Positivism: “A Problem-Solving Approach to Science…” (available upon request) before class. During class, discuss realism and non-realism about science as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 12: Read “Historical Science, Experimental Science…” before class. During class, discuss smoking guns in historical science as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 13: Read “Pure Science and the Problem of Progress” (Sect. 1, 3) before class. During class, discuss the pure-applied science distinction as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 14: Read “Du Bois’ Democratic Defence of the Value Free Ideal” before class. During class, discuss trust in science as well as science in policy-making and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.

Part 4: The Good

Section 15: Read “Morality Is A Culturally Conditioned…” before class. During class, discuss arguments for moral relativism as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 16: Read “Trying on One’s New Sword” before class. During class, discuss whether moral isolationism follows from moral relativism as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 17: Read Part III, Chapter 4 of What Ever Happened To Good and Evil?“Does Ethical Objectivity Require God?” before class. During class, discuss the Euthyphro Dilemma as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 18: Read “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” before class. During class, hear Peter Singer explain what you should do with your affluence and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.

** Paper 2 due (online and hardcopy) **

Part 5: The Future

Section 19: Read “Why Novel Prediction Matters” (Sect. 0, 3, 4) before class. During class, discuss predictivism and accomodationism as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 20: Read “Conservation and Animal Welfare” before class. During class, discuss deer culling, human culling, intrinsic value, and instrumental value as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.
Section 21: Read “Raising Good Robots” before class. During class, discuss Platonic, Aristotelian, and Parental models of robot morality as a class and then complete the in-class assignment in groups.

** Test 2: Study your notes, in-class assignments, and ask about what is still confusing to you during class and/or office hours. **

Course Guidelines

Discussion Guidelines

Discussion is crucial to your success in this class. First, a discussion is the closest thing to a review session that you will get in this class. So, if you can’t confidently answer something on an in-class assignment, then we should probably discuss it in class. (In case it wasn’t obvious; in-class assignments are the backbone of your class notes.)

Also, we will be covering some controversial and sensitive issues about which different people have different opinions. You will very likely disagree with other people in the class—including me—at some point in the semester. No need to be alarmed. Disagreement is common in philosophy. And discussing disagreements can be productive. Why?

In philosophy, what we believe matters less than why we believe it. Discussing our disagreement(s) often reveals why we believe what we believe. Of course, we can imagine a disagreement and corresponding discussion. That is, we can argue for positions that we do not actually hold and argue against positions that we do hold. (It’s pretty fun. You should try it.) In class, we have the benefit of discussing disagreements with real people! For instance, we can express disagreement with and ask questions about the reading, in-class assignments, or lecture material. Good things to mention in class discussions include:

  • Arguments for and against what we discuss;
  • Objections to those arguments;
  • Counter-objections to those objections;
  • Examples to accompany those arguments, objections, and counter-objections;
  • Questions about the meanings of terms/phrases from those arguments, objections, and counter-objections.

When you float a claim or view in class, I will probably ask you for a reason—e.g., an argument or some evidence. So, when you find yourself wanting to make a claim or disagree with someone else’s claim, feel free to think of some reason that our class would probably accept. More importantly, try to be courageous enough to admit when you cannot think of good reasons for your claim or your disagreement—it is perfectly acceptable to find ourselves in that situation so long as we admit it.

Writing Guidelines

In general, you should write in a way that a smart person who is not in our class will understand. More specifically, you should write clearly, cogently, concisely, and (if possible) creatively. Not sure how to do that? Find my advice in “How To Write A Philosophy Paper: 4 Criteria, 9 Tips“.

Course Policies

Electronics Policy

Aside from iClickers, electronics must be turned off and put away. You may use a computer/tablet/etc. for team-based assignments—e.g. so that you can search within each reading. But unless you have written permission from me, these devices must be put away during lectures and tests. Those who have permission to use such devices can lose permission if I find the laptops or cell phones distracting.

Make-Up Policy for iClicker Problems

iClicker assignments that are missed or entered incorrectly because

  • you have not purchased your iClicker yet (or you have, but you have not received it yet)
  • you have not registered your iClicker
  • your iClicker is not working (or you clicked the wrong button)
  • you lost your iClicker (or you forgot to bring your iClicker to class)

are not excused. It is your responsibility to overcome these problems. My responsibility is to point you to the website, phone number, and email address for iClicker support:http://support.iclicker.com, 866.209.5698 (M-F 9am-9pm EST), support@iclicker.com

The “I just need to pass!” Policy

Anyone who satisfies all the following criteria will be guaranteed at least a C in this class: (a) you hand in both papers on time; (b) you miss no more than one in-class assignment; (c) you put forth a reasonable effort on all work; (d) you score (on average) at least 55% on the tests; and (e) you don’t commit academic dishonesty.

Respect Policy

We will be covering some controversial and sensitive issues. We will probably disagree about some of these. Our goal is to express our disagreements in a way that respects the people with whom we disagree. Here are a few ways to do that.

  1. Listen to whoever is talking. Only one person should talk at a time, except during team-based classwork.
  2. Talk, one at a time, only after you are called on (except during team-based classwork). (I will call on as many people as time permits. You can also talk to me in office hours.)
  3. Disagree not by presuming that the person/view with whom you disagree with is silly, foolish, but by summarizing the “steel person” version of the view, the part with which you disagree, and your reason(s).
  4. Silence your electronics in class. Electronic noises are distracting and can cause unnecessary stress during quizzes and tests. Let’s be kind to each other by silencing electronics during class.
  5. Use electronics only for class-related activity: I’ve seen some weird stuff on smartphones, tablets, and computers during class—so distracting! Let’s be kind to each other by putting electronics under our seat, unless we are doing team-based assignments. And let’s use electronics only for class-related purposes.

Academic Integrity Policies

I take academic dishonesty very seriously, and I expect all students to abide by these ground rules:

  1. Team-based assignments. You can work with classmates on in-class, team-based assignments. (Note: you should feel no obligation to work with anyone. Working alone is totally acceptable.)
  2. Papers. You can work with classmates on your papers if you note who you worked with on the line below your name (e.g., “I worked with Marques Jones” …and Marques should write that they worked with you).
  3. Tests. You can study with classmates, but do not work with classmates on tests and quizzes.
  4. Anyone found guilty of engaging in academic dishonesty will be sanctioned in accordance with the university policy and will result in automatic Fail for the course.

Important Note #1: Failing to cite correctly and/or submitting your own work from other classes constitutes plagiarism according to the University’s Academic Honor Policy—even if accidental or unwitting.

Important Note #2: It is common for postgraduate schools (e.g., med schools, law schools, software boot camps, etc.) and employers to ask your alma mater if you committed academic dishonesty. So, plagiarism and cheating can haunt you long after you graduate.

The “Can you tell me what I missed?” Policy

If you miss some or all of a class, do not ask me to review what you missed. Simply read what was assigned (at least once) and complete the corresponding in-class assignment. Classmates can tell you about class discussion(s). We can discuss your questions about the reading and/or the in-class assignments in office hours.

Office Hours Policy

If you plan to attend office hours to get help understanding the material, then bring the relevant reading, your notes/flashcards (e.g., your completed in-class assignments), etc. If you have not completed the reading, taken notes, studied your notes, and practiced the material, then you do not yet need my help. You simply need to start reading, taking notes, studying, and/or practicing. Once you do that, I can (and am truly happy to) help.

The Pre-Grading Policy

The purpose of homework is to test how well you understand the material. So, no, I cannot read your paper before it is due and tell you what to change. That is what grading is for. (If you want to know the reason, re-read the first sentence of this policy again.) Of course, we can discuss the course material more generally.

The Cool-Down Policy

We can talk about a grade on any assignment or test a couple days after it is returned to you.

Late Policy for Homework Assignments

You can submit late homework assignments for full credit if you can provide a reasonable, documented excuse, such as a doctor’s note, for missing the deadline.  If you lack a reasonable, documented excuse, then you can still submit a homework assignment for half credit as late as seven calendar days after the deadline. You will receive no credit for homework assignments submitted more than seven calendar days after the deadline without a reasonable, documented excuse.

Last Day Late to Submit Late Work

With no exceptions, the last day to submit late work is the Monday of the final week of class by 5 pm.

The “But I am an A student!” Policy

If you argue or imply that your grade in this class is somehow determined by your grades in other classes, then you can expect only one thing from me: an incredulous stare.

The “Is there anything I can do to bring up my grade?” Policy

The assignments on the syllabus are easier than extra-credit and/or make-up assignments. For example, an extra credit assignment might be to explain a short book or a long book chapter (that I select) in your own words. On any extra-credit/make-up assignment, you write (at the top) which already-graded assignment’s grade will be replaced by the extra-credit/make-up assignment’s forthcoming grade. By submitting the extra-credit/make-up assignment, you are agreeing to the replacement grade, even if it ends up lower than the original grade.

The “Will you write me a recommendation letter?” Policy

I will write letters of recommendation for students that receive an A or A- in the course. I will consider arguments for making exceptions to this policy. Without exception, a letter must be requested ≥ two weeks before it is due.

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4.4  Cognitive Science

The following materials are for a Cognitive Science course: syllabus, course schedule, reading assignments, homework, and paper-prompt.

Course Descriptions

Much of the technology that you experience on a daily basis was developed by cognitive scientists: internet search algorithms, targeted ads, voice assistants, face detection, autonomous vehicles, etc. Of course, this technology was designed to help us answer questions about the mind.

  • Belief. Why do people believe what they believe? What changes peoples’ beliefs?
  • Bias. How are we biased? What causes biases? What reduces bias?
  • Language. How do we learn language? What can language reveal about our minds?
  • Habit. How are habits created? How are they unlearned? How do habits become addictions?
  • Perception. How do illusions work? How does it differ from hallucination? From perception?
  • Non-humans. How are non-human animal minds different than human animal minds?

Cognitive science is an interdisciplinary field composed of psychologists, neuroscientists, philosophers, linguists, computer scientists, and other academics. Fortunately, cognitive science research has already taught us a lots about the mind, the brain, the body, our relationship to our environment, and our relationships with each other. In this class, we will find mysteries about the mind and some theories that attempt to explain these mysteries. Then we will learn some cognitive science methods and collect some data about ourselves. In the final chapter of our journey, we will see what our data reveal about our own minds. So get ready to solve some mysteries!

Course Materials

  • All texts will be provided electronically
  • 2 Large Bluebooks (8.5” x 11”)
  • Writing utensil for in-class assignments
  • CodeCademy account (for Rstudio lessons)

Course Assignments and Grading

  • Bluebooks                    5%
  • Unit 1 Assignment      10%
  • Unit 2 Assignment      10%
  • Test 1                            10%
  • Unit 3 Assignment      15%
  • Test 2                            20%
  • In-class work               30%

COURSE SCHEDULE

Unit 1: A Mystery In Our Heads

  1. Newell’s (1973) “You can’t play 20 questions with nature and win
  2. Barto and Sutton’s (1998) “Chapter 1 Introduction” of Reinforcement Learning (2nd)
  3. Anderson and colleagues (2004)’ “An Integrated Theory of Mind
  4. Evans and Stanonich’s (2013) “Dual-Process Theories …: Advancing The Debate

Unit 1 Assignment. In the first paragraph, articulate (in your own words) what Newell thinks cognitive scientists must explain and how they must explain it. In the second paragraph, outline one of the three models of cognition (from readings 2-4). In the third paragraph, explain how the model from the second paragraph does and does not fulfill Newell’s demands of cognitive models.

Unit 2: Data & Mystery-Solving Tools

  1. CodeCademy’s Learn R: Lessons 1 through 2 (Turn in proof of completion)
  2. CodeCademy’s Learn R: Lessons 3 through 4 (Turn in proof of completion)
  3. CodeCademy’s Learn R: Lessons 5 through 6 (Turn in proof of completion)
  4. CodeCademy’s Learn R: Lessons 7 through 8 (Turn in proof of completion)
  5. CodeCademy’s Learn R: Lessons 9 through 10 (Turn in proof of completion)

Unit 2 Assignment: First, record yourself thinking all of your thoughts aloud as you complete a set of tasks (that I will provide). Second, trade recordings with a partner and answer the following questions about your partner’s verbal reports of the task: (A) What answer came to your partner’s mind first or most quickly? (B) If your partner changed their mind at any point, did their verbal report indicate that they were aware of a problem with their first answer or did they just stumble upon a better answer? (C) In the end, did your partner get the correct answer? Third, using the coding key provided complete the electronic spreadsheet with the appropriate codes for each of your partner’s responses. Fourth, submit all of these files—recording, verbal report answers, and spreadsheet.

Test 1. A test covering the conceptual issues from Unit 1 (cognitive models) and Unit 2 (e.g., statistical tests).

Unit 3: Solving A Mystery In Our Heads

  1. Jeekl’s “The inner voice”; Look at and prepare for Assignment 2.
  2. Ericsson’s (2018) “Capturing …Thought With Protocol Analysis”; Finish assignment 2
  3. Newstead and colleagues’ “The source of belief bias effects in syllogistic reasoning
  4. Frederick’s “Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making
  5. Szaszi and colleages’ “The cognitive reflection test revisited: exploring the ways…

Unit 3 Assignment: Download the the provided data (which is compiled from submissions of Unit 2 assignments): import it into Rstudio and test whether the codes for A and B predict the codes for C (using two sample t-tests). Put your syntax and output into a .txt file and add a paragraph explaining whether A and/or B predicted C. Submit the .txt file.

Unit 4: So what?

  1. Falk’s “Armchair Science
  2. Johnson-Laird’s “Deductive Reasoning”
  3. Johnson-Laird & Ragni’s “Possibilities as the foundation of…
  4. Nersessian’s “In the Theoretician’s Laboratory: Mental Modeling…

Test 2. A test covering the material from all units.

4.5  Philosophy of Science

Science has become something of a fad. By that I mean that lots (LOTS) of nonscientists are interested in it. Oddly, some of these people say things about science that are just false. For example, people often say that science “proves” or “disproves” things. If you take a careful look at science, however, you find that this just isn’t true. And even scientists seem to misunderstand science. They say things like, “we don’t need philosophy.” However, this claim is obviously self-refuting since the claim, itself, cannot be justified without philosophy. People also say that science describes reality, that science is objective, that there is a single scientific method, etc. These claims sound right at first, but they are difficult to defend. [Jump To Top]

The problem. We don’t seem to know what we thought we knew about science. So what can we say about science? To borrow a refrain from Carol Cleland: science works; Exactly how and why science works, however, is less clear. [Jump To Top]

The primary theme of this course is just that: how and why science works. When you finish this course, you will be familiar with crucial moments in science, a few puzzles about science, and a few potential solutions to these puzzles. More generally, you will understand why some arguments don’t work, how they are supposed to work, how to compose your own argument, how to make an objection to an argument, and how to respond to an objection to your argument. [Jump To Top]

Course Materials

  • LMS account: for announcements, assignments, and reading assignments.
  • University email address.
  • 2 Large (blank) Bluebooks (8.5” x 11”)
  • Writing utensil for in-class assignments

Course Assignments and Grading

  • Bluebooks                      5%
  • Paper 1                          10%
  • Test 1                             10%
  • Paper 2                          25%
  • Test 2                             25%
  • In-class work               25%
What To Read/Do Before Class During Class
The Basics
Syllabus Pre-test, Discuss, Q&A, Quiz?
Unit 1, Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Paprzycka’s “Self-taught Logic Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
The rest of Unit 1 of Paprzycka’s  “Self-taught Logic Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
How Should Science Work?
Ayer’s (1935) “Elimination of Metaphysics Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Misak’s “Philosophy must be useful Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Popper’s (1959) “Problem of Induction Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Hempel’s (1966) “Scientific Inquiry: Invention and Test”) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paper 1
Chapter 4 of Laudan’s (1991) Beyond Positivism:… Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Cleland’s (2001) “Historical Science, Experimental Science,… Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
But How Does Science Actually Work?
Baumeister et al.’s (1998) “Ego Depletion: Is The Active Self…? Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Gailliot et al.’s (2007) “Self-control relies on glucose as a… Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Class vote: Inbar & Inzlicht’s (2019) “Is Ego Depletion Real?” (podcast) or Friese et al.’s (2019) “Is Ego Depletion Real?” (article) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Baumeister’s (2020) “Self-control, Ego-depletion, and Social Psychology’s… Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Study Test 1
Farrell’s “Still seeking omega Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Baggott’s “What Einstein meant by ‘God does not play dice’ Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
What About When Science And Society Have Different Goals?
Section 1 and 3 of Douglas’s (2014) “Pure Science and the prob… Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Longino’s (2004) “How values can be good for science Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paper 2
Bright’s (2018) “Du Bois’ democratic defense of the value free… Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Sober’s (2007) “Evidence and value freedom Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Class pick: Elliot’s  (2017) “Rather than being free of values, good science…” or Byrd’s “The Bias Fallacy Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?, Return Pre-test; Revisit Day 1 Discussion
Study for test Test 2

Final Grades Posted

Course Assignments

Bluebooks. Turn in 2 large (8.5-inch x 11-inch) blue/green books by the end of the first week. The campus bookstore sells these for less than $1.00. I will return 1 to you on each Test day.

Paper 1. Two paragraphs—yes, two. In the first paragraph, explain the strongest version of an argument (that I select). In the second paragraph, explain what you think is the strongest objection to the argument. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 1. A test covering material up to the time that test 1 is proctored. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph).

Paper 2: Like Paper 1, but about a different argument (that I select) and with a third paragraph: explain what you think is the strongest counter-response to the strongest objection to the argument. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 2. A test covering all material from the course. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph). (Do not ask me what will be on the test. I would never encourage you to be ignorant of anything.)

In-class team-based assignments. You will complete assignments during class—in teams, if you want. We will also discuss in class. If not enough people are participating in the discussion, then I can choose people at random. Classes can also include quizzes that can occur at any time.

4.6  Philosophy of Mind

We all have a folk theory about how our minds work: We believe stuff. We desire stuff. Some beliefs are true — others, false. Some desires are intermittent and weak — others, persistent and irresistible. Our behavior is the result of an interaction between our minds and our bodies …or so our theory says. [Jump To Top]

The problem. The finer details such theories are very difficult to explain. For instance, many of our assumptions about beliefs and desires lead to conclusions that we reject. And the relationship between mind and body often sounds mysterious. So perhaps our understanding of our minds is more limited than we realized. [Jump To Top]

This course reviews a few ways that we can understand minds and how they work. We will find that many of the proposals on offer are dissatisfying in some way(s). Then we will discuss what a satisfying account of the mind should be like. In the end, we will understand various theories about minds and explain the problems with these theories. More generally, we will understand why some arguments don’t work, how they are supposed to work, how to compose our own argument, how to make an objection to an argument, and how to respond to an objection to our argument. [Jump To Top]

Course Materials

  • LMS account: for announcements, assignments, and reading assignments.
  • University email address.
  • 2 Large (blank) Bluebooks (8.5” x 11”)
  • Writing utensil for in-class assignments

Course Assignments and Grading

  • Bluebooks                      5%
  • Paper 1                          10%
  • Test 1                             10%
  • In-class work               25%
  • Paper 2                          25%
  • Test 2                             25%

Course Schedule

Before Class During Class
Foundations
Read: Syllabus, “3 Tips For Your First Philosophy Class” Pre-test, Mythbusting, Pop quiz?
Read “Self-taught Logic” (to end of §2)* Team-based Assign. (TBA), Pop quiz?
Read “Self-taught Logic” (§3 thru end §5)* Team-based Assign. (TBA), Pop quiz?
Reread and/or practice “Self-taught Logic”* TBA, Pop quiz? Introduce Paper 1?
Classics
Read “Dualism” §1.1, §1.2 Discuss Paper 1? TBA, Pop quiz?
Read Essential Mengzi “Book 2A” TBA, Pop quiz? Turn in two Bluebooks
Read Classical Arabic Philosop…, pp. 16-23 TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “…Akan concept of a person” §1, §2, §4   TBA, Pop quiz?
Paper 1 due by 10pm
Icons
Read “Brains and Behavior Discuss Paper 1? TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Physicalism” §1, §5 TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “The Knowledge Argument Against… TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Functionalism” §1, §2.1, §2.2, §5.5.1 TBA, Pop quiz
Methods
Read “Armchair Science”* andPhilosophers Are Doing Something Different…” . TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Experimental Philosophy Manifesto”* TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Appealing to Intuition”* Study your notes, flashcards, etc TBA, Pop quiz? Review?
Test 1 (including all material so far)
Personhood
Read “The incredible… Phineas GageorUsing Phineas Gage for Questions on Per… Discuss Paper 2, TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Personal identity and …Phineas Ga… TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “The essential moral self TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “One — But Not The Same TBA, Pop-quiz?
 Two Minds?
Read “Dual-Process and Dual-System The… TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “On dual- and single-process models… TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “What We Can And Ca…” to end of §2 TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “What We Can And Can’t In…”, §3-§5 TBA, Pop quiz? Review?
Paper 2 due by 10pm
Free will, AI
Read “Do We Have Free Will? Return Pre-test, TBA, Pop quiz?
Watch “Libet’s Challenge to Free Will” (5 min.) + Read “On Second Thought, ..Unreflective Intentions…” or “Free will without consciousness? TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Raising Good Robots” or “How do you teach a car… TBA, Pop quiz?  Review?
Study your notes, flashcards, etc. Test 2

Course Assignments

Bluebooks. Turn in 2 large (8.5-inch x 11-inch) blue/green books by the end of the first week. The campus bookstore sells these for less than $1.00. I will return 1 to you on each Test day.

Paper 1. Two paragraphs—yes, two. In the first paragraph, explain the strongest version of an argument (that I select). In the second paragraph, explain what you think is the strongest objection to the argument. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 1. A test covering material up to the time that test 1 is proctored. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph).

Paper 2: Like Paper 1, but about a different argument (that I select) and with a third paragraph: explain what you think is the strongest counter-response to the strongest objection to the argument. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 2. A test covering all material from the course. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph). (Do not ask me what will be on the test. I would never encourage you to be ignorant of anything.)

In-class team-based assignments. You will complete assignments during class—in teams, if you want. We will also discuss in class. If not enough people are participating in the discussion, then I can choose people at random. Classes can also include quizzes that can occur at any time.

4.7 Ethics of Business and Technology

I’m sure you have thought about at least some of these topics:

  • Automation: How does facial recognition or targeted advertising work? What are the risks of this technology? How should it be used?
  • Career/Vocation: What jobs should you want? Should you quit? Should you change majors?
  • Commerce: How are businesses and people different? What do you owe to businesses? What do they owe to you?
  • Facts: How do we know what think we know? When should we trust people, institutions, tests, data, etc.? How should we use big data’s predictions?
  • Finances: How should we earn/save/invest money? How much should a good life cost? Is charity optional?
  • Politics: What systems, institutions, or policies should we support? How should we decide? How should safety be managed?
  • Property: How should scarce resources be protected? Should non-scarce digital information be free to copy?
  • Relationships: What makes relationships good? How do biases impact them? What can we do about it? How should we recover from relationship mistakes?

This class will introduce us to new (and hopefully better) tools for answering these questions (and, hopefully, live a better life). We will analyze and evaluate real-world problems, arguments, evidence, and/or principles. That is both good news and bad news—ask me about this in class some time.

Warning (and advice): Learning how to criticize arguments and evidence is not very difficult. However, constructing our own arguments and interpreting data on our own can be really, really hard. The best medicine seems to be practice. Make sure that at least some of your practice conditions mimic assignment and test conditions—e.g., write your answers with some kind of time constraint, without immediate access to the answers (or someone who knows the answers), etc.

COURSE MATERIALS

  1. LMS account: for announcements, assignments, and reading assignments.
  2. University email address.
  3. Two blank Large (8.5” x 11”) Bluebooks for tests.
  4. Writing utensil for in-class assignments

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS AND GRADING

  • Bluebooks                      5%
  • Due diligence                5%
  • Paper 1                          10%
  • Test 1                             10%
  • In-class work               20%
  • Paper 2                          25%
  • Test 2                             25%

COURSE SCHEDULE

Before Class During Class
Foundations
Read: Syllabus, “3 Tips For Your First Philosophy Class Pre-test, Mythbusting, Pop quiz?
Read “Self-taught Logic” (to end of §2)* Team-based Assign. (TBA), Pop quiz?
Read “Self-taught Logic” (§3 thru end §5)* Team-based Assign. (TBA), Pop quiz?
Reread and/or practice “Self-taught Logic”* TBA, Pop quiz? Introduce Paper 1?
Stakes
Watch “The Internet’s Own Boy” (3 min.) and Read “Aaron Swartz and…” (pp. 7-13) Discuss Paper 1? TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “The Institution of Property TBA, Pop quiz? Turn in two Bluebooks
Watch “Facebook Under Fire…” (2 min.) and Read “The Social Responsibility… TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “A Stakeholder Theory of the… TBA, Pop quiz?
Theories
Watch “Effective Altruism” (6 min.) and Read “Famine, Affluence, and Morality Discuss Paper 1? TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “The Right Thing To Do TBA, Pop quiz?
Paper 1 due by 10pm
Watch “Corporations are …people” (1 min.) and read “Corporate Responsibility &… TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Intentional Action and Side Ef… TBA, Pop quiz
Practices
Watch “When Tech Companies Lie” (14 min.) and read “Why Bullshit Is No Laugh… TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “The folk concept of lying TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Lying Without Say…?” §2.1, 4, 5
Study your TBAs, notes, flashcards, etc.
TBA, Pop quiz? Review?
Test 1 (including all material so far)
Read “Identity, Advertising,…” pp. 4-14 TBA, Pop quiz? Review?
Watch “The worst apologies in business” (2.5 min.) and read “Toward an Understanding…” §2.5, 3, 4 TBA, Pop quiz? Review?
Read “Male Versus Fema…” pp 371-81 TBA, Pop quiz? Review?
Technology
Read “Gun Rights & Noncompliance Discuss Paper 2, TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “A Challenge to Gun Rights TBA, Pop quiz?
Watch “…Ethical Dilemma…” (4 min.) and read “Limit Regulation…and…Social Dilemma… TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “How safe is safe enough? TBA, Pop-quiz?
Paper 2 due by 10pm
 Bias
Watch “How I’m Fighting Bias In Algorithms” (8 min.) and read “The Ethical Questions T…” (pp. 354-358) TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “Understanding Potential Sou…” (pp. 3-16) TBA, Pop quiz?
Read “The Dangers of Risk Predict…” (pp 4-14 TBA, Pop quiz?
Study your notes, flashcards, etc. Test 2

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS

Bluebooks. Turn in 2 large (8.5-inch x 11-inch) blue/green books by the end of the first week. The campus bookstore sells these for less than $1.00. I will return 1 to you on each Test day.

Due diligence. Due diligence entails being familiar with relevant course materials before asking the instructor about it. For example, you should read the syllabus before asking about grading and do the reading, complete the TBAs, make notes, etc. before asking for help in office hours (see Office Hours Policy).

Paper 1. Two paragraphs—yes, two. In the first paragraph, explain the strongest version of an argument (that I select). In the second paragraph, explain what you think is the strongest objection to the argument. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 1. A test covering material up to the time that test 1 is proctored. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph).

Paper 2: Like Paper 1, but about a different argument (that I select) and with a third paragraph: explain what you think is the strongest counter-response to the strongest objection to the argument. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 2. A test covering all material from the course. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph). (Do not ask me what will be on the test. I would never encourage you to be ignorant of anything.)

In-class team-based assignments. You will complete assignments during class—in teams, if you want. We will also discuss in class. If not enough people are participating in the discussion, then I can choose people at random. Classes can also include quizzes that can occur at any time.

4.8  Environmental Ethics

You might have a rough idea of what environmentalism is. For starters, it’s about the environment. More specifically, it’s about protecting the environment. That sounds about right. But what do we mean by ‘environment’? And why should we care about the environment? What about when we have to choose between protecting one part of the environment and protecting another part of the environment? Which part do we protect? How do we make the right choice? [Jump To Top]

The problem. It turns out that most popular environmentalists and conservationists didn’t explicitly answer these basic questions. Philosophers have tried to answer these questions, but with imperfect success. [Jump To Top]

In this course, we’ll review some environmentalists’ and conservationists’ implicit assumptions and consider problems with these assumptions. Then we will turn to more careful treatments of environmental ethics and consider the merits and demerits of each view. Finally, we will apply each view to contemporary and forthcoming environmental problems. By the end of this course, we will understand the terms used by environmental ethicists, some of the problems they try to solve, some of the solutions they offer, and some of the views that motivate their solutions. More generally, w will understand why some arguments don’t work, how they are supposed to work, how to compose our own argument, how to make an objection to our argument, and how to respond to an objection to our argument. [Jump To Top]

Course Materials

  • LMS account: for announcements, assignments, and reading assignments.
  • University email address.
  • 2 Large (blank) Bluebooks (8.5” x 11”)
  • Writing utensil for in-class assignments

Course Assignments and Grading

  • Bluebooks                      5%
  • Paper 1                          10%
  • Test 1                             10%
  • Paper 2                          25%
  • Test 2                             25%
  • In-class work               25%

Course Schedule

What To Read/Do Before Class During Class
The Basics
Syllabus Pre-test, Discuss, Q&A, Quiz?
Unit 1, Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Paprzycka’s “Self-taught Logic Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
The rest of Unit 1 of Paprzycka’s  “Self-taught Logic Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Sober’s “Philosophical Problems For Environmentalism Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
A dilemma
Leopold’s “The Land Ethic Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Singer’s “All Animals Are Equal Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Rawles’ “Conservation and Animal Welfare Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paper 1
Can we avoid the dilemma?
Shrader-Frechette’s “Individualism, Holism, and Environmental Ethics Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Varner’s “Biocentric Individualism Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Russow’s “Why Do Species Matter? Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Thompson’s “Aesthetics and the Value of Nature Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Study for test Test 1
Another dilemma?!
Nelson’s “An Amalgamation of Wilderness Preservation Argu… Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Sarkar’s “Wilderness Preservation and Biodiversity Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Norton’s “Toward A Policy-Relevant Definition of Biodiversity Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paper 2
Another one?!?!
Hardin’s “Tragedy of The Commons Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Schmidtz’s “The Institution of Property Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Wilson’s “How Elinor Ostrom Solved One Of Life’s …Dilemmas Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
What are we going to do about it?
Kelman’s “Cost Benefit Analysis Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Shue’s “Environmentalism And International Inequality Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, & Morality Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?, Return Pre-test; Revisit Day 1 Discussion
Study for test Test 2
Final Grades Posted

Optional additional readings

Course Assignments

Bluebooks. Turn in 2 large (8.5-inch x 11-inch) blue/green books by the end of the first week. The campus bookstore sells these for less than $1.00. I will return 1 to you on each Test day.

Paper 1. Two paragraphs—yes, two. In the first paragraph, explain the strongest version of an argument (that I select). In the second paragraph, explain what you think is the strongest objection to the argument. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 1. A test covering material up to the time that test 1 is proctored. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph).

Paper 2: Like Paper 1, but about a different argument (that I select) and with a third paragraph: explain what you think is the strongest counter-response to the strongest objection to the argument. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 2. A test covering all material from the course. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph). (Do not ask me what will be on the test. I would never encourage you to be ignorant of anything.)

In-class team-based assignments. You will complete assignments during class—in teams, if you want. We will also discuss in class. If not enough people are participating in the discussion, then I can choose people at random. Classes can also include quizzes that can occur at any time.

4.9  Ethical Issues In Science and Technology

The following materials are for an Ethics of Business and Technology course: syllabus, course schedule, reading assignments, homework, and paper-prompt

COURSE DESCRIPTION

I’m sure you spend many hours thinking about issues that are important to you, such as:

  • Career/Vocation: How should you decide to choose or change major(s), jobs, or work strategies?
  • Commerce: How are businesses and people different (if at all)? What do they owe to one another?
  • Facts: How do you know what you do? When should you trust people, institutions, test results, data, etc.?
  • Finances: How should you use money? How much should a good life cost? What good is insurance?
  • Lifestyle: Should you relax or study? What should you eat? What should you do (or not do) with your body?
  • Politics: What institutions/policies/candidates should you support (if any)? How should do you decide?
  • Relationships: What makes relationships good? How should you decide whether to continue a relationship?
  • Science: When must scientists disclose their hypotheses and methods? Should all results be reported?
  • Technology: Can technology’s benefits justify its costs? Who should get to decide? Who is responsible for it

This class will introduce us to new (and hopefully better) tools for answering these questions. So if we practice using these tools, then we will think (and hopefully live) better. Specifically, we will be to analyze and evaluate real-world problems, arguments, evidence, and/or principles.

Course Materials

  • LMS account: for announcements, assignments, and reading assignments.
  • University email address.
  • 2 Large (blank) Bluebooks (8.5” x 11”)
  • Writing utensil for in-class assignments

Course Assignments and Grading

  • Bluebooks                      5%
  • Paper 1                          10%
  • Test 1                             10%
  • Paper 2                          25%
  • Test 2                             25%
  • In-class work               25% 

COURSE SCHEDULE

Course Schedule

What To Read/Do Before Class During Class
Logic
Syllabus Pre-test, Discuss, Q&A, Quiz?
Unit 1, Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Paprzycka’s “Self-taught Logic Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
The rest of Unit 1 of Paprzycka’s  “Self-taught Logic Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
…Start… MindMup…” (5 min.) + “Why Science Is Be…” (7 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Information
Open Access Explained” (8m) + The Paradox…” (11 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Misunderestimating Opennessup to end of point 7 (9 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Openness And Digital Human Right” (9 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Beyond The Fetish of Open(9 pp) + Bring 2 Bluebooks? Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz? Submit Bluebooks
Intelligence
…We Should Ban…” (6m) + “…Autonomous Weapon[s]” §1-3* Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Finish “…Autonomous Weapon Systems” §4-5 (15 pp total) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
What is an Ethical [AI]?” (90s) +Raising Good Robots” (12 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
…Responsible Innovation in Artificial Intelligence
” (pp 1-9)
Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paper 1 due
Automation
Big Tech’s …Dilemma” (8m) + “Gender Shades…” (12 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Google’s AI Principles” (6 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Computers…got…better…” (7m) +[AI] Moral Experts” (9 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Study your notes, flashcards, etc. Test 1 (cumulative)
Science
EO Wilson…” (3m) + “…Science and…Progress” (9 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Du Bois’ …value free ideal” (12 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
…everyone gets wron…” (5m) + “Testing For…Bias:…” (6 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Cognitive and Non-Congitive Values in Science:…” (pp 42-55) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Environment
Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
The Algorithmic Turn In Conservation Biology:…” (10 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
…Precautionary Prin…” (4m) +…Cost of Carbon…” (pp 1-9) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Finish “The Social Cost of Carbon…” (pp 10-13) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paper 2 due
Enhancements
Simone Schuerle…” (90s) + Kant and…enhancement…” (10 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Moral Enhancement, freedom, and what we (should)…” (7 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
…ARG-tech” (2m) +…Virtual Assistant for Mora…” (pp 1-12) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Finish “…a Virtual Assistant for Moral…” (pp 13-22) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?, Return Pre-test; Revisit Day 1 Discussion
Study for test Test 2
Final Grades Posted

Nota Bene: The average number of pages of reading for each module is less than 10! (You’re welcome). So you have no good excuse for not reading the assigned reading (at least once) before every class. (And yes: there is reading for the first day of class.)

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS

Bluebooks. Turn in 2 large (8.5-inch x 11-inch) blue/green books by the end of the first week. The campus bookstore sells these for less than $1.00. I will return 1 to you on each Test day.

Paper 1. Two paragraphs—yes, two. In the first, you summarize the strongest version of an argument. In the second, you provide what you take to be the strongest objection to that argument. You are required to submit the corresponding argument map. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 1. A test covering material up to the time that test 1 is proctored. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph).

Paper 2: Like Paper 1, but about a different argument and with a third paragraph: what you take to be the strongest counter-response to the strongest objection to the argument. You are required to submit the corresponding argument map. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 2. A test covering all material from the course. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph). (Do not ask me what will be on the test. I would never encourage you to be ignorant of anything.)

In-class team-based assignments. You will complete assignments during class—in teams, if you want. We will also discuss in class. If not enough people are participating in the discussion, then I can choose people at random. Classes can also include quizzes that can occur at any time.

4.10  Logic

I’m sure you spend many hours thinking about issues that are important to you, such as:

  • Career/Vocation: What jobs should you want? Should you quit? How can you get the most out of work?
  • Finances: How should you handle money? What are the most common mistakes? How can you avoid them?
  • Information: Is that claim true? Does the conclusion follow from that claim? How can you tell?
  • Lifestyle: How does irrationality make your life more difficult? What strategies can spare you those difficulties?
  • Politics: How is rhetoric different from rationality? Is fact-checking enough? What else should you check?
  • Relationships: Are your decisions about friendship or romance based on fallacies? Can you overcome them?

This class will introduce us to new (and hopefully better) tools for answering these questions. So if we practice using these tools, then we will think (and hopefully live) better. Specifically, we will be to analyze and evaluate real-world arguments, evidence, and/or claims.

Warning (and advice): Learning the rules of logic (and critical thinking) is not very difficult. However, applying these rules to new situations is usually harder than you expect. The best medicine seems to be practice. So practice (not just in the classroom). And make at least some of your practice conditions mimic assignment and test conditions—e.g., heed a time constraint, no immediate access to answers (or classmate, instructor), etc.

Course Materials

  • LMS account: for announcements, assignments, and reading assignments.
  • University email address.
  • 2 Large (blank) Bluebooks (8.5” x 11”)
  • Writing utensil(s) for in-class assignments

Course Assignments and Grading

  • Bluebooks                      5%
  • Paper 1                          10%
  • Test 1                             10%
  • Paper 2                          25%
  • Test 2                             25%
  • In-class work               20%
  • Due Diligence              5%

COURSE SCHEDULE

Course Schedule

What To Read/Do Before Class During Class
Overview
Are you sure?…” (6 min.) + Syllabus Pre-test, Discuss, Q&A, Quiz?
Novaes’s “What is logic?” (12 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Aristotle’s Logic” §1-3.1, 8.3-10 (5 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Basics
31…Fallacies” (8 min.) + Weisberg’s Odds & Ends, Ch. 2 (8 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paprzycka’s …Logic, Unit 1, §5 (5 pp) + Buy 2 8.5” x 11”

Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz? Submit Bluebooks
Cullen et al’s “Improving …reasoning …with …visualization” (5 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Getting Started With MindMup” (4 min.) + This Guide (12pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Science
What the polls…” (10 min.) + Salmon’s Logic, §20-23 (8 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Hempel’s “…Role of Ind…” (7 pp)* + W’s Odds & Ends, Ch. 6 (6 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Salmon’s Logic, §7 (6 pp) + Duhem’s “An Experiment In Physics Can Never…” (8 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Study your notes, flashcards, etc. Test 1 (cumulative)
Stats
Asked Why Black Amer…” (20 s) +Base Rate Fallacy” (9 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Salmon’s Logic §27 “Causal Arguments and Causal Fall…” (6 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Cassidy et al.’s “…Statistical Significance…” (7 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Fisher et al.’s “…group-to-individual generalizability…” (9 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paper 1 due 
Money
Family Denied…” (3 min.) + 📗  B&G’s “Good Money…” (4 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
B&G’s “Risky Business”, “It Depends…”, and “Know…” (12 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
…Opportunity Cost?” (160s) + 📑 Weisberg’s Odds…Ends, Ch. 11 (8 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Weisberg’s Odds & Ends, Ch. 12 (6pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
People
Mid-day news” (5 min.) + Tversky & Kahneman (pp 293-300) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Byrd’s “Belief Bias, Polarization, and Potential Solutions” (4 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paper 2 due 
Tools
…Wisdom of the Crowd” (4 min.) + Pennycook & Rand’s “Fighting Misinformation On Social Media With Crowd…” (6 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Berg et al.’s “Prediction market accuracy…” §2-4 (12 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Twardy’s “Argument Maps Improve Critical Thinking” (pp. 95-104) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Dezecache et al.’s “Democratic Forecast: Small Groups…” (9 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Debate
Rini’s “Abortion …Moral Persuasion” §1-2 (7 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Rini’s “Abortion …Moral Persuasion” §3-4 (12 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Donahue & Levitt’s “…Abortion on Crime…” §3.1, 3.2 (11 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Paulsen’s “Abortion As…Eugenics” §II (6 pp) Discuss, Team-based work, Quiz?
Study for test Test 2
Final Grades Posted

Nota Bene: The average number of pages of reading for each module is less than 10! (You’re welcome). So you have no good excuse for not reading the assigned reading (at least once) before every class. (And yes: there is reading for the first day of class.)

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS

Bluebooks. Turn in 2 large (8.5-inch x 11-inch) blue/green books by the end of the first week. The campus bookstore sells these for less than $1.00. I will return 1 to you on each Test day.

Paper 1. Two paragraphs—yes, two. In the first, you summarize the strongest version of an argument. In the second, you provide what you take to be the strongest objection to that argument. You are required to submit the corresponding argument map. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 1. A test covering material up to the time that test 1 is proctored. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph).

Paper 2: Like Paper 1, but about a different argument and with a third paragraph: what you take to be the strongest counter-response to the strongest objection to the argument. You are required to submit the corresponding argument map. (See “Writing Guidelines” and “Feedback Shorthand Key”.)

Test 2. A test covering all material from the course. Multiple choice, short answer (One or two sentences), medium answer (a few sentences), and long answer (e.g., paragraph). (Do not ask me what will be on the test. I would never encourage you to be ignorant of anything.)

In-class team-based assignments. You will complete assignments during class—in teams, if you want. We will also discuss in class. If not enough people are participating in the discussion, then I can choose people at random. Classes can also include quizzes that can occur at any time.

5 TEACHING EXPERIENCE

In reverse chronological order.

5.1 Assistant Professor, Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken)

Fall 2023
HPL 442, Logic (Section A enrollment TBD, Section B enrollment TBD)
HPL 444, Philosophy of Mind (final enrollments TBD)

Spring 2023: HPL 455, Ethical Issues in Science and Technology (21 students, 88% capacity)

Fall 2022: HPL 442, Logic (11 students, 46% capacity)— NB: Registrar forgot to remove the prerequisite(s)

Spring 2022: HPL 456, Ethics of Business and Technology (19 students, 79% capacity)

Fall 2021: HPL 444, Philosophy of Mind (22 students, 92% capacity)

5.2 Instructor, Florida State University (Tallahassee)

Summer 2019: PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy (19 students, 100% capacity)

Summer 2018: PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy (20 students, 105% capacity)

5.3 Teaching Assistant, Florida State University (Tallahassee)

Spring 2018: PHI 2100, Reasoning & Critical Thinking with Dr. Michael Bishop (86 students)

Fall 2017: PHI 2100, Reasoning & Critical Thinking with Dr. Michael Bishop (91 students)

Spring 2017: PHI 3330, Free Will with Dr. Marcela Herdova (48 students)

Fall 2016: PHI 2100, Reasoning & Critical Thinking with Dr. Daniel James Miller (114 students)

Spring 2016: PHI 2620, Environmental Ethics with Dr. James “Jack” Justus (102 students)

Fall 2015: PHM 2121 Social Justice & Diversity with (now Dr.) Carmen “Mary” Marcous (140 students)

Spring 2015: PHI 2620, Environmental Ethics with Dr. James “Jack” Justus (104 students)

Fall 2014: PHI 2010, Introduction to Philosophy with Dr. John Roberts (98 students)

5.4 Guest Lecturer, Florida State University (Tallahassee)

Spring 2017: PHI 3330, Free Will with Dr. Marcela Herdova
“The Illusion of Free Will: Daniel Wegner’s Argument”

Fall 2017: PHI 2100, Reasoning & Critical Thinking with Dr. Michael Bishop
“Causal Claims & Arguments From Samples”
“Diagnostic Reasoning Under Uncertainty” or “When you test positive”

Spring 2016: PHI 2620, Environmental Ethics with Dr. James “Jack” Justus
“The Institution of Property & The Commons: David Schmidtz vs. Elinor Ostrom”
“Intrinsic vs. Instrumental Value: Sagoff et al. vs. Justus et al.”

Fall 2016: PHI 2100, Reasoning & Critical Thinking with Dr. Daniel James Miller
“Philosophical Thinking: Fast & Slow”

Spring 2015: PHI 2620, Environmental Ethics with Dr. James “Jack” Justus
“The Institution of Property & The Commons: David Schmidtz vs. Elinor Ostrom”

Fall 2014: PHI 2010, Introduction To Philosophy with Dr. John Roberts
“On Abortion: J.J. Thomson’s Thought Experiments and Their Implications”

5.5 Guest Lecturer, University of Colorado (Boulder)

Spring 2014: PHIL 1400: Philosophy and the Sciences with Dr. Carol Cleland
“Against Metaphysics: A.J. Ayer and subsequent logical empiricism”
“The Hypothetico-Deductive Method: From Popper to Duhem and beyond”

5.6 Teaching Assistant, University of Colorado (Boulder)

Spring 2014: Philosophy and the Sciences (Honors) with Dr. Carol Cleland (10 students)

Spring 2014: History of Science: Newton to Einstein with Dr. David Youkey (53 students)

5.7 Recitation Instructor, University of Colorado (Boulder)

Fall 2013: Phil 1400, Philosophy and the Sciences with Dr. Carol Cleland (2 sections, 10 students each)

5.8 Workshop Instructor, Apple Store (Boulder)

2012-2013 Getting Started with iCloud
Workshop description. iCloud stores all your music, photos, apps, and documents—and then wirelessly pushes them to all your devices so you can access your content from anywhere. Come to this workshop if you’d like to set up a free iCloud account and learn how to keep your devices up to date automatically—no syncing required. You’ll discover why iCloud is the effortless way to manage your content. (4-10 people per workshop)

2011-2013 Getting Started with iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch
Workshop description. If you’re just getting to know your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, this hands-on workshop is for you. Learn how to create and navigate through your Home screen. Discover how easy it is to sync media with your computer using iTunes. Explore Maps and find out how your device knows exactly where you are—even if you don’t. Manage your photos, use the cameras, get to know FaceTime, watch videos, visit the App Store, and check out the iBooks app. And of course, there’s iPod—the best way ever to listen to what moves you. (4-10 people per workshop)

2011-2013 iWork Tips and Tricks
Workshop description. Whether you’re at home, school, or the office, iWork makes it easy to create and share impressive documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on your Mac. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to use the advanced tools in Pages for writing and page layout. Features in Numbers make it even easier to create formulas and stunning one-click charts. And we’ll show you how to use the cinematic animations, transitions, and effects in Keynote. (4-10 people per workshop)