PhD Candidate History
Fall 2022 Winner
Kaitlyn Waynen takes a unique hybrid approach to teaching that draws from humanist, constructivist, and situated learning theories. This combination not only creates a strong and close-knit learning community but also empowers students to explore, question, and reflect independently, thereby making the subject matter applicable to their lives beyond the classroom.
At the core of her teaching philosophy is the establishment of a safe and collegial learning environment. Waynen recognizes that history, as a discipline, delves into the complexities of the human experience, which includes both uplifting moments and darker episodes of marginalization and violence. To foster constructive conversations around these subjects, it is crucial that students feel secure and have their humanity fully acknowledged.
Waynen's courses are designed with a strong emphasis on scaffolding, where students build on their existing knowledge and experiences while receiving periodic feedback. This approach lessens the cognitive burden leading up to exams, reduces student stress, and enables them to focus on analyzing and constructing ideas rather than memorizing facts.
Waynen also places a significant emphasis on student choice and allowing learners to have control over their education. Students are given the opportunity to choose readings or activities from a list of options, empowering them to explore topics that resonate with their interests.
Moreover, Waynen embraces situated-learning theory, scheduling museum trips to provide students with authentic social learning experiences. These trips encourage students to actively participate in object analysis labs, where they step into the role of archivists, practice describing and contextualizing objects, and learn about museum ethics and the importance of representation. Students' written reflections highlight their newfound intellectual flexibility, capacity to consider multiple perspectives, and increased comfort with encountering new information.
Kaitlyn Waynen has been honored with the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award in the Humanities for her groundbreaking and inclusive teaching approaches. This accolade emphasizes her commitment to empower students in their educational journeys.
What Students Say
As I reflect on my time in her course, I find myself leaving a better student due to the challenge and enjoyment I experienced. For every single lecture, Professor Waynen taught with eagerness and passion, was always extremely prepared, and created a safe environment to have conversations surrounding tough topics. I will leave Baylor a better student and person because of Professor Waynen.