Nova Robinson


Students in the College of Arts and Sciences at Seattle University selected me as the 2019 Teacher of the Year.

The history classroom is an excellent vehicle for engaging students in questions about what factors have shaped contemporary power dynamics—who has the power and why. However, the legacy of standards-based testing in secondary school means that students are primed to think that there are “right” answers. I work to disavow students of this position by modeling in lecture that history is about interpretation and analysis. To help students gain confidence in forging independent connections between primary and secondary sources and current events, I rely on three core teaching techniques. First, primary sources are used both in class and as assigned readings. A range of primary sources are used to cater to visual and auditory learning styles: graphic novels, photographs, music videos, newsreel clips. Second, student-generated questions drive discussion. Third, frequent writing assignments are developed to encourage connective thinking across sources. Repeated reading, reflecting, and responding—in class through discussion and through formal and informal writing assignments—helps students gain the confidence to write final papers that lead to further research. I am working with students on a range of independent research projects from Ottoman midwifery practices to historical memory and the Armenian genocide to the gender imbalances of mental health aid to Syrian refugees living in Jordan. All of these projects grew out of term papers.

I strive to teach students how to think critically not only about lecture content and the material they read for class, but about the sights, sounds, and world around them. The tools historians use to dissect the past are the same ones students can use investigate and actively live in the present.


Please contact me if you would like to see a copy of any of the syllabi.