Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D.

  Associate Professor
  708-235-7531 ext. 7531
  Office Location: C3372
  College: CAS
  Division of Humanities and Social Sciences


I welcome teaching as an opportunity to encourage and empower students’ intellectual wealth. Each semester, as new challenges arise, my passion for teaching is reaffirmed. My primary pedagogical role is to assist students learn how to search for and construct a complete answer as we work through the question-and-answer process. As a teacher, my goal each semester is to grow with the students; therefore, challenges are ever-present to stay current with materials presented. Other goals are to stimulate active learning through a variety of media to develop in my student an appreciation for the art of questioning.

I begin the first class with a Student/Instructor agreement. It consists of fifteen points/issues that create a supportive learning environment, free from a fear of backlash from me or their peers when expressing their opinions. I believe that such an agreement provides a welcoming and nurturing environment for diverse student populations. From this bond, the students understand what I expect from them in terms of preparation for class, what they can expect from me in terms of grading, and how we as a group will strive to show each other respect. As the students and I both sign the contract, I have found a better rapport is built with the students for later in the semester. Recently, I’ve incorporated an Academic Honesty contract that specifies how to engage in honest and ethical pursuit of academic goals. As an instructor, I hold students accountable to appropriately cite sources of information and/or indicate direct quotes so that there is no question of plagiarism.

My teaching approach emphasizes three principles: Awareness, Skills, and Understanding.

Awareness is developed through the students’ mastery of reading assignments, vocabulary lists, and current newspaper articles. Before coming to academe, I had a career in several social services settings (probation/parole, law enforcement, and human services). It is because of this background that I emphasize students considering the real-life conditions of individuals around the globe, as they expand their field of vision. Awareness does not necessarily mean that a student agrees with my ideology or my take on a certain issue.

Skills rest on fostering self-instruction, formulating questions rather than answers, and being able to critically appreciate the diversity of culture and cultural expression in the United States; therefore, I attempt to enable students to take concepts and apply them to their own social experience. In doing so I want to lead students to develop their understanding of the basic connectedness of race, class, and gender, and how to apply these concepts. As students read and analyze traditional and non-traditional texts, my goal is that they further develop their critical reading and critical thinking skills on the themes of the courses. I allow for flexibility in my course syllabus to leave room to adapt to student interests and concerns. I adhere to this philosophy because I believe that true learning involves active thinking.

Understanding comes about in many forms, as a result of students’ different learning styles. To accommodate those students that are visual learners, I use the following teaching tools:  chalkboard, pictures, video clips, role play, and PowerPoint presentations. Other students have the ability to understand materials from verbal instructions, so I incorporate lectures, guest speakers, individual projects, and small group discussions as teaching tools. However, to me the best way to enhance knowledge is in going over the actual note taking process with students. I ask students did they look up definitions of terms in their readings that were unfamiliar with, or did they note the impact of a specific individual or group on a certain issue. Because of this approach, I allow my students to use their notes for quizzes.

The outcome of a semester is not determined per se, by how a student feels about me as a person, but rather by how they are able to engage new material and apply this new understanding to real life situations. For example, in my Women’s History class, we discuss sexual harassment at the workplace.  This includes examining stereotypes that only men are sexual harassers and that only women can be sexual harassed. A successful outcome is that students have more empowerment to confront sexual harassment and possibly become less likely to be a harasser. I believe the best classrooms are those where the teacher and the students learn from each other.


Please find my CV here.