John Riggott

Lecturer

John Riggott

 

 

Address

251 Milledge Hall

Throughout Junior High and High School I always enjoyed helping my friends with their math homework. It was very rewarding to me to see their expression change when they were able to understand a new or difficult topic. This kind of explains why I am now teaching mathematics courses to this day. I have been teaching math for a long time now and to this day still get very excited when I see the look on a student’s face when they understand a topic or challenging problem. I love teaching at UGA and working with all of the wonderful highly motivated students. I hope that I can have some kind of positive influence on all my students.

While tutoring one of my fellow classmates in high school I was introduced to her family which included her younger sister. A year or so later I would meet that younger sister again and am proud to say that she is my beautiful wife of 26 years. During those 26 years we have had the privilege of raising 4 wonderful children including three girls and one very special young man that has Down syndrome and to this day is still non-verbal. I enjoy spending as much time as I can with my family just watching them grow and trying to give them as many life experiences as I can.

Life will challenge you along the way with many different things but if you have a good support network like I am lucky to have you can get through anything. So while you are here at UGA study hard but take the time to experience all of the wonderful opportunities the University had to offer and start building that very important network of support.

Curriculum Vitae


Education
  • ABD in Secondary Mathematics Education — University of South Carolina
  • M.S. in Mathematics — University of South Carolina
  • B.A. in Mathematics — Belmont Abbey College
Teaching Philosophy

For many years my teaching load was filled with mathematics courses ranging from learning support level mathematics to mathematical modeling to college algebra to precalculus and calculus I. Over the past few years this load has shifted to both mathematics courses and courses offered by the Division of Academic Enhancement at the University of Georgia. These UNIV courses are centered on helping incoming and scholar students make a successful transition to the University and/or a successful transition to life after their time at the University. Both the mathematics and UNIV courses have a set of topics to be covered and a set of learning outcomes for the students. In my opinion, however, teaching is more than just making sure you cover all the topics for the course. I believe that as educators we should strive to make sure the students are actually engaging in the discussion and playing an active role in their own learning.

When I am teaching one of my mathematics courses and I am introducing a new topic I always start the discussion by asking the students to recall some aspect of the topic either from previous class discussions or from their high school math courses. I am not looking for perfect definitions or descriptions of the topic but just trying to give them a chance to pull from their memory any knowledge about the topic to start the process of engaging them in the discussion. Then during the lecture I will continue to follow up with more questions to again try to engage them in the discussion instead of just blindly taking notes. While discussing the topic I will present the students with several examples of the topic as well as examples of the types of questions they can expect in homework or on a test. While working the example I will continually ask what the next step should be to see if the students are actually following along. I use their answers and facial cues to determine if the example was understood or if another example is needed. They are then assigned homework to practice the concepts that were covered in class to see whether they actually understand the concepts or if they need to ask for clarification or more examples. I always start each class with the same question to my students, “Are there any questions on homework or notes”. If they have actually attempted the homework and/or reviewed their notes there are almost always questions. Once the basic ideas of any topic have been introduced I try to incorporate some type of real life application or problem that could be solved using that particular topic. So many classes today in mathematics and other science courses require students to be able to solve real world application problems. These problems test more than just the student’s ability to do the math or the physics or the statistics but also test the student’s ability to read the problem correctly. They must be able to identify the important information from the problem and to determine what information the problem is asking them to find before they can even begin to attempt to solve the problem. Therefore if I want them to be successful in their other courses I must be diligent in presenting them with the opportunity to see and practice solving these real world type problems. Which leads right back to them being engaged in the class discussion of how do we set up and solve these types of problems. I want the students to talk about the material or problem and not just watch or listen to me. I encourage my students to ask questions in class, come to office hours to ask questions, form study groups to ask each other questions, and use the free tutoring that is offered on campus to ask questions. Whether they have questions about their notes or questions about their homework or questions about how a certain formula or concept was derived they should be asking those questions not just sitting back hoping that the material somehow magically seeps into their brain.

For my other UNIV courses I use a similar strategy of trying to get the students involved in the discussion of the topics as much as possible. Though some lecture is required from time to time I try to let the students lead the discussion as much as possible. These classes are filled with topics that are trying to give the students strategies and insights on how to become better learners as well as strategies to be successful outside of school. When we talk about best learning strategies or test taking strategies for an example I first ask the students what strategies they have used in the past and whether or not those same strategies are still working for them on the college level. Once the discussion has begun and students have shared their past experiences we look at what the experts in the field have to say about that topic. Once we have compared what we have been trying verses what the experts say I challenge them to try some of the techniques described by the experts during their next few weeks of classes and then have them report back to the class how they feel about these new techniques. I also like to challenge them to do some research on their own or in groups about some of the topics and then report back to the class what they have found. When they present to the class I require them to use at least one active learning strategy so that the class is involved with the discussion and not just listening to them read what they found. For some of the UNIV courses I also have certain guest speakers that I like to come present to the class. For my scholar classes for example I like to introduce the students to as many resources on campus as possible. This may include visits to the library, visits from health services, CURO, experiential learning, the career center, financial aid, the Aspire clinic or others. Theses visits are designed to introduce the students to all of the wonderful services that are available to them on campus and how they can take advantage of these services to help them get the most out of their time at UGA and prepare them for the next phase of their life after UGA. For my scholar sections, based on the information they gain from the visit from the career center, I also require them to begin building an e-portfolio where they can share information to possible future employers or graduate schools.

For all of the courses I teach I feel it is necessary for students to take an active role in their learning. They can not learn just by listening to me talk. They most join in class discussions, do their homework or readings/research and come to class prepared to ask questions or possibly lead discussions on what they have gained from the reading or research. And they most be respectful to one another so that everyone feels comfortable when sharing their thoughts or ideas. If they can follow these guidelines I am confident they will leave the class a stronger student than when they entered.

Inclusive Teaching Statement

As a member of the Division of Academic Enhancement I am committed to trying to create an environment that is more welcoming to all the diverse populations here at the University. In my own classroom I am committed to continue to work toward building and sustaining an equitable and inclusive environment. I believe that diversity enriches the classroom and provides many advantages to learning. I strive to create assignments and teaching strategies that are equitable for all students. I try to create an open classroom where everyone’s input is in encouraged and treated with respect. If we all work together and respect each other we can build a very powerful learning community where everyone can work toward reaching their full potential. I hope you will join me in doing your best to try to be better listeners and more receptive of other’s cultures, beliefs, and opinions. Let’s create a better and stronger bulldog nation.

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