“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”  –Martin Luther King, Jr.

The quote above captures the essence of my teaching philosophy.  I aim to bring out the very best in my students.  As their teacher, advisor, and mentor, I see my role and responsibility in their learning to act as a guide to the student through the material, doing whatever is needed to promote understanding, critical reasoning skills, and a true passion for the subject matter.  Students should come to love scientific inquiry and be intrinsically motivated— not just working for a grade, or fulfilling a requirement.  I want them to come away from my courses with an insistent voice that tells them to look further, to think critically, and to never stop asking questions.

My students have summarized my teaching philosophy and approach essentially in this way: “Dr. Barrett has very high expectations of us, but he also provides us with the tools we need to meet those expectations, and to be successful.”  My educational approach is also very much in keeping with that of Jaime Escalante, who always believed that students will rise to the level of expectations.  In my teaching, I have tried to couple a rigorous approach and high standards with a caring and concerned attitude toward the students so that they are better prepared, both in terms of whatever particular course material they are studying, as well as for whatever they may encounter once they graduate from Xavier.

In my time here at Xavier, I have taught a wide array of courses.  These have included: General Biology I (Biology 1230) Lecture; Genetics (Biology 3110) Lecture and Laboratory; Virology (Biology 3150) Lecture; Cell Biology (Biology 3091) Lecture and Laboratory; Honors Seminar (Biology 4011S); Introduction to Scientific Literature (Biology 4120); and Introduction to Neuroscience (Biology 3300), a brand new addition to our undergraduate curriculum.  In addition, this past year, I began to teach Freshman Seminar (FRSM 1000/1100).  Each course has been different and each has had some challenging moments.  Yet through it all, it has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience.  Indeed, I feel fortunate to be in a profession that is never stagnant, and always exciting. 

Over time, I have learned that the best way for me to teach is by example and guidance.  Most students will demonstrate an innate interest in the subject matter, and it is only necessary to encourage what is already there, guiding students to discover what they find most interesting, what works and doesn’t work in their learning process.  Once this is accomplished, I believe they should be enthusiastically encouraged to pursue and follow their goals.  Mentorship, sometimes lacking in academia, is at the core of my teaching philosophy.  


My Teaching Philosophy