Eric R.R. Weaver

Innovations & Success

Direct personal observations of "experiential project based learning" has demonstrated how valuable this method is for inspiring students to pursue their own personal skills. This awareness has helped development while employed in the College of Public Health, where their brand is now "Our Practice is Our Passion." This innovation in teaching is a passion for helping others to find their own passions.

This section of the teaching portfolio represents a situation where the teaching philosophy hit a road-block. When encountering adversity, or a unique circumstance, the teacher's reaction and resolution is important to understand. As noted earlier, the "experiential project based learning" methods has been discovered to be very successful with helping students to uncover their skills and personal passions by completing key tasks. Many graduate courses require projects for teams of students, as all productive enterprises require communication and cooperation with other professionals, peers, and customers. Team projects can often be randomly setup to force student to learn the critical skills of listening and communicating effectively with peers.

One year when working with student teams, there was one team which had trouble with a member who was very animated and energetic. This was a struggle for the other team members as he would make team demands and go off in a rave about how some great leader did this tactic in American History, so he was correct in his demands. No one knew enough about leadership or American History to challenge him, even though they felt his demands were unreasonable. At first this made organizing and setting priorities for the team very difficult. No one liked the animated person's propositions for team priorities to progress, but no one could get a word in edgewise to challenge him.

At this point Mr. Weaver recommended to the team that the animated individual could be their team "spokesman" to the rest of the class for the project. This would give him an outlet for his energetic debates, while allowing the rest of them to get focused about the team project and priorities. Everyone immediately agreed, especially the new spokesman. Here Mr. Weaver listened to understand the problem, and found the outlet to motivate the individual who otherwise was an obstruction to team progress. Watching and silently listening to their issues long enough to gauge the conflict between their personal passions resulted in Mr. Weaver suggesting tasks to fit their skills. In this case the team was very clear and effective, each working in an area best tailored to their passions. During the final presentation, the introduction by the spokesman was animated and energetic, expressing the great conquest of team engagement, well worth videotaping.

This team challenge involved an individual whose energetic passions centered on animated debates. This passion was discovered long ago. The challenge now was how to direct the passions and skills to best support all the team members for completing the course project. Listening, understanding, and sharing this experience helped all the team members explore their own passions. Today, Mr. Weaver recognizes that his teaching experiences at USF, and greatest successes parallel his team building for projects tasks as done with his children and many others who have worked with him personally.

Sample Work

PCGS Aquaculture Research Project

Prototype development resulting from volunteer student mentoring project (PDF download)