February 2018 Faculty Spotlight
February Faculty Spotlight with Substitute Assistant Professor, Rubia Valente
When a professor goes above and beyond for their classroom, students take notice. Rubia Valente’s classroom tactics reflect this, as she seeks to help students “pursue challenging projects” and “become responsible, well-rounded individuals” to realize their full potential. In this month’s faculty spotlight, we talk research projects, the importance of an engaging, personal teaching style, and more.
What drew you to the Marxe School?
Many factors drew me to the Marxe School, including its extraordinary reputation, the outstanding quality of its faculty, its commitment and interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research, and most importantly, the opportunity to work with an engaged and diverse student body.
What are you teaching?
I am teaching four courses: three undergraduate courses (Principles of Survey Research and two sections of Quantitative Methods for Policy and Practice), and a graduate course (Regression and Analysis II). Teaching methods courses involves striking a balance between pure expository lecturing, in-class exercises, and group discussions. To facilitate assimilation of key ideas, I often discuss the application of learned concepts to real-world scenarios that cover a diversity of areas, such as sociology, public policy, economics, criminology, and political science. Since methods courses can sometimes appear intimidating, I seek to make students feel welcome and at ease in my classroom, and I find that seeing the course material from multiple angles and in light of practical examples make the subject matter more accessible and keep students motivated and engaged in the classroom.
How do you view the connection between professor and student?
I strongly believe that students should feel comfortable approaching instructors with questions or concerns, both inside and outside of the classroom. I try to memorize my students’ names on the first weeks of class. This simple act has played a major role in the relationships that I build with my students—it is my way of showing that I really care about them and their learning experience. As a professor, I want to foster students’ passion for learning and discovery, to inspire them to seek reassuring ‘Aha!’ moments that follow the understanding of new concepts. My goal is to provide students with a solid foundation, to pursue challenging projects and endeavor towards their full potential. As an educator, my utmost responsibility is to disseminate knowledge and inspire students to become responsible, well-rounded individuals. Establishing a strong and meaningful bond with students facilitates this process.
Can you tell us about your work and research projects?
My research focuses on social problems and how they affect underrepresented and marginalized groups. This includes looking at issues regarding minority student performance in high school, investigating questions of equality in higher education, analyzing affirmative action policies and their effectiveness, looking at work-life balance and subjective well-being, examining gender role in religious institutions, and many other issues. In my research I use mixed methods, meaning that I make use of surveys, individual interviews and participant observation, but I also make use of advanced quantitative methods to analyze data and provide empirical support for policies addressing these social issues. The regional focus of my research is in Latin America and Brazil, although recently I’ve started doing research examining issues faced by minorities groups in the U.S., particularly Latinos and immigrants.