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Teaching Philosophy

As an instructor for two courses that can get a reputation as the more difficult courses in chemical engineering, I try my hardest to break down barriers and intimidation in my courses. I recognize that each cohort of students creates a unique classroom environment that must be tailored and nurtured in order to achieve this goal. Some of the tenants that I retain throughout each semester include:

  1. creating a learning environment rich in resources by providing clear examples of how the textbook material corresponds to real chemical engineering careers and supplemental learning material in addition to the textbook
  2. applying an active discovery learning approach via utilizing homework and in class exercises to reinforce knowledge presented in lecture material
  3. following a holistic approach to education by being approachable and understanding when students are struggling not just with the content, but mentally or physically as well
  4. promoting critical thinking skills and social learning by asking open-ended questions, having students complete homework in groups, and having students work through the process of arriving at an answer rather than memorizing material

Fall Semester: Separation Processes (CME 415, Junior Year)

  • Students learn about equilibrium-based separations, primarily distillation
  • Students learn about separation methods, including: liquid-liquid extraction, solid-liquid extraction, chromatography, and membranes
  • Students learn to apply Aspen simulations to separations
  • Students complete a design project, report, and presentation using Aspen to simulate a separation design problems

Selected Student Feedback:

  • Dr. Givens taught things well, and seemed to be excited about teaching the course.
  • Dr. Givens is very personable to her students. Somehow she knows everyone's name.
  • Dr. Givens usually makes you think about questions when you ask them so she is not just giving you the answer and you need to figure it out more on your own.

Spring Semester: Engineering Thermodynamics (CME 320, Sophomore Year)

  • Students are introduced to thermodynamic concepts in physical and chemical processes
  • Students learn how to apply material and energy balances to open and closed systems
  • Students learn how to select and apply appropriate equations of state to solve thermodynamic problems
  • Students learn to apply Excel to solve thermodynamic problems
  • Students are introduced to chemical reaction equilibrium thermodynamics
  • Students are introduced to real world chemical engineering applications of thermodynamics including: rocket science, Joule-Thomson expansion in cancer therapy and natural gas, chemical reactions in solar water splitting, rusting, methane combustion, and biological reactors

    Selected Student Feedback:

    • I just wanted to say thank you for making my transition back into engineering school not as brutal as I thought it would be! I was extremely nervous after years of being out of school and I am sure that showed. You are a great professor and extremely fair. I learned a great deal this semester and the way you taught the class kept me engaged.
    • Dr. Givens was always available to help if I was confused. She provided a voice of reason that I really appreciated. Even when I was stressed out over the material, I found it calming to talk to her about what I was struggling with in class.
    • I think the most helpful part of her being a professor in this course is that she tries to make thermodynamics less intimidating. I think she succeeds at this extremely well. I came into the class thinking it was going to be a nightmare, but now, I feel extremely confident in my ability to do thermodynamics. I have even been able to help my friends in mechanical engineering do their thermo homework and explain the complicated concepts. I think Dr. Givens teaches us versatility and has a great engineering class setup.