Christopher Antoun is an Assistant Research Professor with a joint appointment at the College of Information Studies (iSchool) and Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM). His research focuses on using smartphones to collect population data, either through text messaging, mobile questionnaires, or apps and sensors. Before coming to UMD, he obtained his PhD in Survey Methodology from the University of Michigan and was a postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Census Bureau.
As an educator, I have three main goals: (1) present statistical and technical concepts in intuitive ways to help students engage the material rather than feel intimidated by it; (2) nurture analytical thinking by urging students to gather and organize evidence to support their conclusions; and (3) strive to create an inclusive atmosphere in which students with different backgrounds and learning styles feel equally valued.
I try to accomplish these goals by using a variety of pedagogical techniques. I help facilitate an intuitive understanding of concepts by using concrete examples and visualizations. For example, I have used statistical animations in statistical courses to convey information in tangible ways. I try to provoke analytical thinking by asking questions that focus a student’s attention on how they arrive at their conclusions (e.g., How can you tell? What evidence led you to.....?). In addition, I develop assignments that push students to practice their problem-solving skills rather than to merely recall facts. I set the stage for an inclusive classroom by doing the following: clearly describing the course content and grading policies in the syllabus, taking an interest in students’ needs, establishing ways for students to seek help, supplementing lectures with other activities (e.g., discussions, collaborative activities), varying the learning assessments, and trying to model an openness to different viewpoints. While I teach, I also strive to continue learning myself; this involves learning from my students, constantly reflecting on my teaching goals, and finding ways to integrate new teaching technologies and methods.
I feel a great sense of responsibility to challenge and support my students in pursuit of my teaching goals, as well as a genuine enthusiasm for my subject areas. I hope to continue to have a positive impact on my students and to evolve and grow as an educator in the years to come.