PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century

Anne Houtman

F21 Class of 1994 Statements Revisited

Anne Houtman

Anne Houtman is Associate Professor of Biology and Director of General Education at California State University–Fullerton.

Question: What are the current challenges you are facing in your professional life?

Answer: I am trying to juggle the administrative responsibilities of a non-majors' program that serves 5,000 students a year, teaching non-majors, majors and graduates, and research programs in both behavioral ecology and science pedagogy. Plus writing a textbook on a tight schedule, which is not recognized by CSUF as a scholarly contribution. Although I was brought in at a senior level, I have to go up for tenure next year. Every time life gets more complex, I get more organized and thus more productive, but I wonder how far that can go. I have occasional fantasies about being a housewife, puttering in the garden, baking cookies for my kids, learning to knit... I love my job/career, I can't imagine giving up any part of it, but I think I'd love half of it even more.

Question: What do you view as your most promising options and opportunities for the future?

Answer: See above challenges : ). I have enjoyed the transition from liberal arts to state university for a number of reasons, the main one being that I am having an impact on many students, the majority of whom come from under-represented ethnicities and/or socioeconomic groups. I am excited about the continued opportunities to have a "trickle-down" effect on student learning by helping faculty develop their teaching skills. I am doing this by offering workshops, sharing the science pedagogy literature, teaching a model class that is open to colleagues, and generally creating a supportive community for part-time faculty, who tend to feel isolated and marginalized.

Question: What will undergraduate STEM be like in 2016, given the urgency of new challenges and opportunities facing our nation?

Answer:. I HOPE that all of the technological tools that have the potential to help teaching are being used appropriately and to their fullest potential, eg clickers (my personal favorite), on-line literature and data searching, on-line learning communities. So much that is passed on in lectures now could more effectively and efficiently be learned with appropriate software (ADAM comes to mind here, also the Chem/Math tutorials offered with some Bio textbooks.) I HOPE that this then opens up classroom time for more interactive, responsive, higher-level learning. I FEAR the increasing interference of political ideologues into both science and teaching, as well as the career focus vs. education-for-life focus of many undergraduates and their families. We as a scientific community need to be more outspoken in our defense of pure science and the value of an education.