This page gives a sense of my teaching style and pedagogical approach. Commitments are presented using class examples and select positive qualitative feedback from anonymous student evaluation surveys. Individual student contributions are only shared with explicit permission, and all contributions are presented to preserve anonymity.
Accessible Quantitative Logic
Many students feel alienated or dehumanized by decontextualized statistics. Recognizing these experiences and also deeply valuing the potential of quantitative methods, I hold a pedological commitment to helping students of all backgrounds to develop an intuitive understanding of social statistics through practical examples, patience, and personal connections.
In the assignment exemplified on the right, students taking Introduction to Sociology identify indicators that operationalize social phenomenon and hypothesized univariate distributions of central tendency and dispersion and bivariate relationships between discrete and continuous variables.
Put a less intimidating way, we wrote survey questions and guessed the results.
By simplifying statistics, my goal is for students to develop an intuitive understanding of common statistics (e.g., "average,"), a grasp of why different measurements matter, and an appreciation for the value of sociological research (and how difficult it is to do right!).
Quotes from Evaluations (including labs)
"He went above and beyond with our labs to help us learn in the best way that made sense to us (syntax or point and click). He was accessible and truly knew what was going on and how to make it make sense for us."
"He related [quantitative] content to our everyday lives and helped us interpret definitions/concepts in more colloquial terms."
"He got students involved all the time, so he could have a sense of the class's understanding of the [quantitative] material."
Inclusive Student Engagement
As a first-generation college student from a working-class background who attended an upper-middle-class high school, I fell in love with sociology when it provided alternative ways to understand my and my family’s personal experiences. To facilitate this value, my classes heavily emphasize participation. I push students to critically examine how their personal biography intersects with larger social forces. My goal is to provide a challenging and engaging atmosphere that also empowers underrepresented perspectives.
I make it a priority to provide multiple mediums through which students can participate, and I encourage a range of engagement (e.g., answering simple questions about the text, sharing personal experiences or feelings, explaining complex ideas, critiquing the class material). It is my impression that students generally progress through the various levels of engagement using the mediums with which they are most comfortable.
Quotes from Evaluations
"Zach did an amazing job as a facilitator creating situations that sparked thriving discussions... also creating an environment where anybody could speak up, regardless of their stance..."
"Awesome course, we talked about a lot of relatable content that has affected us personally and others around us..."
"A large portion of the grade is on participation which I was never a fan of as I am shy. However, he is very fair about it and gives lots of opportunities for you to participate..."
"...The different outlets for participation allowed me to feel like my voice was heard, especially because I sometimes feel more reserved when it comes to talking out loud..."
"Instructor never put down or made other people's opinions look obsolete. Was very helpful and approachable."
"We get to have a voice in this course, professor Kline allows us to talk about how we feel about certain topics and I feel like this definitely helps us see different view points on different topics."
Academics are generally aware of a "hidden curriculum" that perpetuates inequality through implicit knowledge and unchallenged practices that we see as natural. However, the question of how best to address the consequent inequalities in the context of our constraints remains unresolved. I address these inequalities in the classroom through multiple means.
To highlight one, I combine reflexivity with collaborative learning techniques to assess the quality and fairness of the learning environment. I solicit feedback from students regarding my or their concerns, assess their needs and suggestions in light of course goals, propose targeted suggestions that address those needs, and facilitate dialogue until we reach a mutual agreement. In these conversations, I share my position in the context of academia more generally. My goals are two-part: 1) I will become more cognizant of my role in the hidden curriculum; 2) Students will become more aware of the social structures that guide their classroom experiences.
The example below is from my lecture that draws heavily on Wiest 2011
Quotes from Evaluations
"Professor Kline did a very well job of teaching the class as a class rather than just a professor, He included us on the decisions towards topics and how things were done. It felt like a classroom effort rather than just being told “do this, this, this”. I feel this was the most positive aspect because ... it made the class feel closer and definitely made me want to learn more...."
"He asked for our opinions throughout the course and then altered the way he was teaching during lab in order to help us. As the semester went on his teaching, instructions, and help greatly improved...."
"Professor ... let us choose what is best for us."
"Professor is very understanding and willing to ask for the students input on things. Professor does want the best for the students."