Justin Shaffer

Teaching Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering

Shaffer HeadshotAs a Teaching Associate Professor, I aim to provide undergraduate students the best educational and classroom experience possible and to study how students learn science and engineering.

Everything that I do as a teacher all comes down to the fact that I want my students (and society as a whole for that matter) to appreciate, understand, and ultimately be excited about science and engineering. I believe that student excitement and engagement are the foundation for improving scientific literacy, building solid critical thinking and analysis skills, and preparing for successful scientific and engineering careers. For those students that already really like science and engineering, I want to cultivate their interests and help them prosper into the scientists, engineers, doctors, and researchers of tomorrow. I like to say that I know that won’t ever find a cure for cancer, but maybe I will inspire a student who will someday do just that.

Contact

235 Alderson Hall
1613 Illinois Street
Golden, CO 80401
303-273-3885
jshaffer@mines.edu

Teaching Style

If you are a student in my classroom, I want you to leave every day saying “that was fun and I learned a lot!” I start every day with learning objectives, so that you know exactly what I want you to be able to do in the course. During class, you’ll be exposed to the course content through real-world situations that apply in some way to your daily lives so as to make the course material more relevant. You won’t just be sitting quietly and taking notes in my class either, I rarely lecture for more than five minutes at a time (and even when I do lecture it is more like a conversation than me speaking directly at you). Rather you will be actively engaged in the learning process and applying your knowledge by answering clicker questions, working with your classmates to brainstorm or solve problems, and analyzing data from scientific research articles. I do all of this for a reason, and that reason is that tons of research has shown that you will learn more if taught this way! I guarantee you’ll have at least a little bit of fun too!

Educational Research

In addition to using evidence-based principles when I teach, I am also interested in researching how students learn science. I am interested in assessing the efficacy of high structure teaching practices in a variety of college science and engineering classes. (High structure teaching involves pre-class assignments, in-class active learning, weekly review assignments, and multiple cumulative exams.) Specifically, I am studying the impacts of in-class active learning exercises and out-of-class assignments on student performance and attitudes in a variety of contexts (upper vs. lower division, introductory biology vs. thermodynamics, face-to-face vs. online, etc).

Education

  • BS – Chemical Engineering – Penn State University
  • PhD – Bioengineering – University of Washington
  • Postdoc – SPIRE Postdoctoral Fellowship Program – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publications

Google Scholar Citations Page