Faculty Experiences - Kevin Terraciano

Kevin Terraciano - photoKEVIN TERRACIANO


Interview Topics

What matters most to you in your teaching?

How are you using technology as a tool to achieve your teaching goals?

How have your students responded to your use of technology?

What new goals do you have for using technology in teaching?

How could the University better facilitate the use of technology in instruction?


Bring an experience to the classroom

Use authentic materials




Class web site

Engaging Students in the Sights and Sounds of Latin American History

A combination of a personalized teaching style plus the use of technology is the key to teaching. I think of myself as a good-old-fashioned teacher in that I try to engage the audience as much as possible. I feel very strongly about rhetorical skills and how important they are in engaging the students.

What matters most to me in my teaching is that I communicate the fascinating knowledge that comprises Latin American history and that I give students the opportunity to share in this knowledge. If my deliverance, approach, encouragement or the technology I use in the classroom can bring anything to students that I can communicate in an exciting way—because I think it is exciting information—then I feel as if I’m doing well
At the beginning of class I play music—which is a simple form of technology. Music sets the tone for the course. I try to select music from Latin America that fits in with the theme of the class that day. When I have a class on the idiginous backgrounds of Latin America, for instance, I play Andian music. Or for the European background I play 13th and 14th century Arabic and Aleutian music from Southern Spain. I also use a lot of images. I’ve recently switched from slides to PowerPoint presentations to display these images. I use images in my own research, and so I’m very comfortable with the idea of introducing them and spending the time I need to use them as text. In addition to the images that I use in class I also have a great deal of readings that focus on the writings from the period we are studying.

In my Introduction to Colonial Latin America course I try to present as much written or image-based material from that period as possible. This presentation is really important in learning about indigenous peoples since images were a text, and pictorial writings—because of indigenous pictographic writing systems—were extremely important, both before and after the arrival of Europeans. I try to make a number of these materials available on the web site. I also show video clips during the class. I try to show five-to-ten minute clips, especially English subtitled films that come from Latin America and include Spanish, Portuguese, or some indigenous language. I try to mix the course materials up as best as possible. For that reason I don’t want students to follow my PP presentations so they are just reading text and not listening to the content.

A combination of a personal teaching style plus the use of technology—where I don’t depend on that technology—I think that’s the key to teaching! I would like to think students are receptive to this approach. I try to provide as much information on my class web site as possible, because I realize that many students go first to the course web site with any questions about the course. I hesitate to put all of my lecture notes up there because I do want students to attend the lectures. Technology should not replace that more personal aspect of teaching. I think of myself as a good-old-fashioned teacher in that I try to engage the audience as much as possible. I feel very strongly about rhetorical skills and how important they are in engaging the students. I tend to walk up and down the isles in a big classroom; I try to make eye contact with each and every student. This personal aspect is very important in teaching.

Regarding my future use of technology in my courses, my goal is to get the music on the web site and align each composition that I play with the lecture outlines so that someone can click onto the lecture and hear the music and see the images as well as the PowerPoint notes for that class. Some students want to burn a cd of this music for their personal use, but I don’t know what the copyright implications are. At the same time we’re moving in a direction to make all of the readings I assign in the class available on the web site, replacing the course readers that I use.

We have a technical team in the History Department, and they are very resourceful and helpful in supporting my use of technology. I work with them a great deal. Getting the right classroom is also instrumental in facilitating technology use in my courses, and so far, I have been fortunate. Between the facilities (the rooms that are fully equipped) and the technical resources in the History Department and the audio visual services, I think that I have nothing to complain about really. Thank you very much for this opportunity to talk about teaching!

Oral Interview, April, 2006