Stavros Constantinou, Ph.D.
Stavros Constantinou, Ph.D., associate professor with the Department of Geography, teaches on the Mansfield campus, but regularly takes his students to countries they have never been to before through his travel abroad course, Geography of the European Union. He chose to refine this course through the Drake Institute's Instructional Redesign initiative, the third and final component of the Teaching Support Program.
Constantinou taught Geography of the European Untion in May 2018 and 2019. Moving forward, he hoped to make the course experience more student-centered to accomdate living and studying in a foreign country.
"I wanted the course to be as meaningful and productive a learning experience as possible,” he said.
Constantinou was introduced to the concept of Instructional Redesign after participating in a Course Design Institute for Education Abroad. He also consulted with Drake Institute staff to assess the evidence-based strategies he decided to implement in the new iteration of his course.
To increase students’ sense of belonging, Constantinou organized a pre-departure event for travelling students to socialize with one another and course alumni from the previous year. In a post-course survey, almost every student agreed or strongly agreed that the session provided valuable information about the country and locale, that it was valuable to meet former participants and that they felt more comfortable with international travel following the session. He also redesigned his course to allow students to journal about their experiences abroad, a method used to promote learning by encouraging reflection on course experiences and activities.
“Because reflection encourages active student participation and engagement in the learning process, I selected [learning journals in the form of reflection letters] to assist my students in more substantive observation during the structured educational experiences,” he said. Of the 2019 course participants, 11 had never kept a learning journal before.
“I learned that I could be a more effective instructor and Resident Director by learning to listen carefully to student feedback each year and to evaluate critically what modifications/adjustments I needed to make in my teaching approach, syllabus, and the selection of structured educational experiences,” he said. “Despite my position as a senior faculty member, I have learned to be more flexible in my approach to the students and in my willingness to accommodate student needs and suggestions.”
Read Constantinou’s Instructional Redesign portfolio