My Approach to Teaching and Learning
My research in Virtual Reality (VR) has always been very interdisciplinary, and it’s an approach I bring to my classrooms in the Department of Emerging Technology in Business + Design. Although I teach in Emerging Tech, my Ph.D. is in Cognitive Psychology, and I maintain affiliations with both the Departments of Psychology and Computer Science. This allows me to teach students from a variety of different majors on topics like 3D art and animation, how to program game engines, or how to create their own VR simulations. These students each bring their own expertise to bear, with architects creating compelling 3D environments, creative writing majors adding engaging narratives for their games, music majors crafting immersive audio, and computer scientists programming intuitive interactions. It’s truly a pleasure to teach in this kind of environment, which naturally creates opportunities to bring students into the laboratory. While researching the effectiveness of VR for education, for example, I’ve led diverse teams of undergraduate students in building medical training simulations for nursing classrooms at multiple universities and an evacuation simulation for the NICU at a large, regional Children’s Hospital. My students have also worked on Augmented Reality documentaries of Vietnam War protests and even built a virtual Mandala that they presented to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Bringing new VR research trends and hands-on projects into the classroom allows students to be more engaged and up-to-date; and it has proven successful in unlocking their creativity and created opportunities to engage in research beyond the classroom.
My Teacher-Scholar Journey
The defining characteristic of my research and teaching has long been its interdisciplinary nature. That is to say, I’m a cognitive psychologist who teaches 3D art courses and computer programming, with an occasional foray into nursing education and digital humanities. The common thread that ties them together has been the study of virtual reality (VR). I originally studied VR technology as a research tool to study spatial cognition – creating virtual environments for people to navigate through and track their motions and responses with high experimental control. Through this, I learned a variety of skills from a variety of fields that I now share with students from a variety of majors. Creating compelling VR requires knowledge of lighting, music, 3D modeling, animation, programming, human perception, and user-experience design. I highlight these cross-disciplinary connections in my classroom and provide a space where students with diverse backgrounds and skill sets can contribute towards team success while appreciating how VR impacts other career fields. In turn, these students develop skills that allow them to get involved in the laboratory. While researching the effectiveness of VR for education, for example, my undergraduate students have built medical training simulations for nursing classrooms at multiple universities and for the NICU at a large, regional Children’s Hospital. My students have also worked on Augmented Reality documentaries of Vietnam War protests and even built a virtual Mandala that they presented to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A tight feedback loop between my teaching and research has helped both to thrive.
Knowledge is Power
“Miami University is a place that values interdisciplinary connections and true liberal education. Teaching virtual reality in the classroom and studying it in the laboratory has allowed me to bring together scholarship from diverse fields, including psychology, art, music, writing, computer science, and others. My students learn to work with experts outside their domain and build amazing new things.”
Ph.D. Miami University
M.A. Miami University
B.A. Malone University
More About Me
I’m a cognitive psychologist teaching 3D art and computer programming, with an occasional foray into nursing education and digital humanities. My interdisciplinary work centers on the study of Virtual Reality, with a specialty in VR navigation. I’ve been at Miami since 2008, affiliated with Emerging Technology, Psychology, and Computer Science.