Faculty Excellence at UMUC

W. Scott Haine Faculty Interview
W. Scott Haine
History

Hear the audio clip on conducting effective dialogues with students. (1:26)

 

Interviewer:

Please tell us about yourself—what made you decide to teach at UMUC? What kind of work do you do when you are not teaching at UMUC? Are there any life experiences that have influenced your teaching at UMUC? If so, please share one story.

W. Scott Haine:

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1950s through the early 1970s. Naturally, I was very much influenced by this time of questioning and contestation of established norms and institutions. An older cousin was at the University of California Berkeley during the eruption of the Free Speech Movement, and I arrived a few years after the People’s Park revolt and the student strike of spring 1970. I then attended another university known for its provocative positions on politics and culture: the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The amazing rapidity and profundity of events and the changes that come with them made me acutely aware of the importance of history. This is the reason I became a historian. In my research and writing I have focuses especially on the history of cultural and urban life, especially in France.  I have written one book on the history of the cafes of 19th-century Paris, (and I am currently working on a book concerning the cafes of 20th-centurey Paris), a survey of French history, and a book on the culture and customs of France.

The personal computer has always fascinated me.  For this reason I jumped at the change to teach online. When I was an undergraduate, I hated to have to type papers. When at the end of graduate school the computer arrived, I really felt liberated from the drudgery of typing out papers. Now that the Internet is becoming so sophisticated and elaborate, it is possible for students to have a much more hands-on experience doing research.  Indeed students today often do a lot of research on topics without really realizing that they are doing research. 

Interviewer:

How would you describe your teaching style or philosophy? What experiences or person(s) have influenced your style or philosophy?

W. Scott Haine:

One of the things I love to do when teaching online is to show students how they are already researchers even if they do not know it. This comes as a revelation to many as they realize that they are already thinking historically and critically as they evaluate sources. This is why I always ask students what topic most strikes their imagination during the first week of class because I know that they will have already done some work on that particular topic.

Interviewer:

Please explain if you do something special or unique in your teaching and what made you develop this. What do you think it is about your teaching style that appeals to students?

W. Scott Haine:

What I enjoy most about teaching is the student-faculty interaction. Each class is different, and for this reason I must always develop new and fresh responses to student posts in the classroom. As a result, I find conversation threads are often deeper and more stimulating than in face to face classes.  Writing, much more than talking, demands a professor’s statements be coherent and clear. Moreover, students have a better chance to ask questions either in the classroom or in private emails than they do in the traditional face-to-face situation. What I also love about online teaching is that with an essay I can copy and save and insert comments right in the middle of the tests and essays so the students see exactly what needs to be done in each case. When you can literally get into the middle of an essay you understand it much better and can show the student directly how their writing can be improved. 

Interviewer:

Do you teach face-to-face, online, or both? Do you have a preference between teaching face-to-face and online? If so, please explain.

W. Scott Haine:

I have taught online classes for UMUC since the fall 2000 semester. I have taught and developed a wide range of courses: World History, Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, Western Civilization, United States History, 1914-1945, and the undergraduate research seminar History 309.

Interviewer:

Please tell us about your chosen discipline-i.e., what made you interested in the area initially? What do you do to stay current in your discipline? What do you like best about teaching in your discipline?

W. Scott Haine:

My preferred teaching strategy, posing questions about primary sources and textual interpretations, ensures that I will be fully prepared for any period of history I teach. I always consult a wide variety of textbooks and primary sources in order to be better able to understand the underlying assumptions of the field. I believe students will never have a fully critical sense of the discipline of history unless they have a sense of how particular historians of a particular era arrive at a consensus that is then reproduced in their textbooks and primary source readers.  It is vital that students learn that history should not just be read backwards, in order to see how events and trends have led to later developments, but also read forwards in order to understand the assumptions and contexts in which historical figures made history. 

Interviewer:

What is the most challenging to you in teaching in this area? What teaching strategy do you use when you encounter the challenge? Are there any special challenges to teaching your discipline online?

W. Scott Haine:

Online teaching, I believe, has an even more exciting future than present. I am sure that video conferencing will become central to online teaching and will enrich the experience greatly.  I still believe that the cues we get from a person’s voice and gestures can reveal a lot about their understanding of a subject. Video conferencing will allow both faculty and students to have these additional cues.