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Teaching Philosophy

Education is a core requirement of sustaining a democratic society. As an educator, my role is teaching students how to think critically and systematically, in addition to demonstrating how the core themes of sociology and policy analysis structure and influence their daily lives. By drawing connections between the content of the classroom and context of their lives, students uncover intrinsic motivation for learning and leave the classroom with a set of well-developed skills and knowledge which can applied in many contexts.


It is also my role as an educator to support the learning, professional development, and success of students from historically underrepresented backgrounds in the classroom and outside. It was Dewey, the renowned scholar of education, who most famously introduced the idea of education as a vehicle for social and economic mobility in the early 1900s. However, the education system and higher education in the United States can often act an unfair contest. Particular attention should be given to how to best support and encourage historically underrepresented students in course design and execution. By creating an open and respectful classroom my students can engage in the important and often controversial topics of sociology and policy. Moreover, the assumed institutional knowledge that many historically underrepresented students may not have, such as the unwritten rules of email communication or how to access various resources on campus, can be incorporated into courses and syllabi. 

Teaching Experience

Professional Development Seminar: Uncovering the Hidden CurriculumS251, Winter 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2024

University of California, San Francisco

  • ​Developed new graduate level course to help students develop the professional skills necessary to succeed in academia. This class covers topics such as the peer-reviewed publication process, networking, grants and fellowships, understanding the job market, and science communication, among other topics. Through the course students develop a professional portfolio consisting of a C.V. and mini-statements for research, teaching, and diversity. 

  • Student Evaluation Excerpts:

    • "Erin is a fantastic instructor and did a great job organizing this course. She also created a safe environment where I felt very welcomed."

    • "Dr. McCauley is an excellent addition to UCSF. She taught this class with tremendous energy and depth of knowledge. She taught me so much that isn't explicitly addressed in Ph.D. programs. She also provided helpful feedback on course assignments in empowering ways."

    • "The instructor's honesty, candidness, and relevant recent personal experiences with these matters contributed so so well to this course. Additionally, I really appreciated the instructor bringing in her network to expose us to different experiences, too."

Dissertation Writing SeminarS272, Spring 2022

University of California, San Francisco

  • Adapted and taught seminar to support graduate level students in the writing of their dissertation through intensive peer review. This class also covers topics such as developing a sustained writing practice, writing for various audiences, the job market, and turning a dissertation into a book depending on student interest.

  • Student Evaluation Excerpts:

    • "​​This class was incredibly supportive with the appropriate balance of structure and flexibility. Erin brought applicable knowledge and encouragement to the process, and her enthusiasm for our work was inspiring and supportive. She was really helpful in getting us to think ahead and strategize for this next phase of our PhD process and careers ahead."

    • "This course was well-organized and offered excellent, structured support for advancing my writing goals."

Innovative and Critical Perspectives in Social SciencesS292, Fall 2022

  • I developed this seminar as a complement to the Department's Innovative and Critical Perspectives in Social Sciences colloquium, which I founded and organized. The seminar exposes students to cutting-edge research in Sociology and the social sciences, presents networking opportunities, and fosters a connection between the UCSF Sociology program and the broader discipline. 

Graduate Teaching Experience 

Course Facilitator—PAM 6050: Principles of Population. Fall 2018. 

College of Human Ecology, Cornell University.

  • I acted as the course facilitator for this graduate level course which served as an introduction to demography for first and second year graduate students. I facilitated this course under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Lichter & Dr. Kelly Musick. The course covered demographic data sources, demographic rates and measures, and conventional demographic techniques (such as life table analysis, rate standardization, and population forecasting). This class placed a particular emphasis on the empirical application of demographic methods and perspectives in research relevant to population issues and public policy. My duties included designing the course syllabus, designing course assignments and rubrics for evaluation, lecturing and recruiting guest lecturers, lecturing, hosting office hours for students, and managing a team of two graduate student grading assistants.

Teaching Assistant—PAM 3120/SOC 3150: Research Design Practice & Policy. Fall 2017.

College of Human Ecology, Departments of Policy Analysis & Management and Sociology, Cornell University. 

  • I served as one of two teaching assistants for this undergraduate class which offered an introduction to research and research design for Dr. Kelly Musick. This class offered an introduction to the basic tools of social science research, introducing students to the design and execution of research projects and developing strategies for reading and evaluating the research of others. My duties included assisting Dr. Musick in developing assignments and rubrics, providing writing support to students, hosting office hours for students, grading written assignments and in class quizzes, and conducting a lecture on qualitative interviewing. In place of a final exam, students completed two final projects, for which I provided assistance during development of the projects and their execution. First, students used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to design a quantitative research study and wrote the first half of a quantitative research article (introduction, literature review, and method sections). Second, students formed groups based on research interests, conducted a small qualitative study, and wrote the back end of a qualitative research paper (methods, results, and discussion).

  • Student Evaluation Excerpts: 

    • "Erin was very helpful and even willing to help us outside her office hours. She responded to my emails with great amount of details and good set of advice and recommendations. She was also very knowledgeable about the course materials. I would love to have her as a TA again. Very diligent and supportive!"

    • "ERIN IS LEGIT THE BEST she helped me so much in this course. I don't have much experience with qualitative research and she spent so much time with me explaining concepts and processes of thinking about concepts and research approaches. Her assistance is one of the main reasons I was successful in this course. Incredibly supportive, great at explaining/teaching ideas, and always more than willing to spend as much time with me as needed (which was often much longer than our appointment duration)."

    • "This TA was very approachable and open to help students. She was also able to explain the material very clearly and was able to provide many helpful suggestions for improvement."

Teaching Assistant—HOD 2500: Systematic Inquiry. Spring, 2015; Fall, 2015; Spring, 2016.

Peabody College of Education, Vanderbilt University. 

  • I served as one of four teaching assistants for this undergraduate course which served as an introduction to systemic inquiry and research design for Dr. Andrew Van Schaack. This class focused on introducing students to the fundamentals of rigorous and ethical research design and teaching students how to be smart consumers of research. My duties included grading written assignments and in-class examinations, proctoring in-class examinations, and coordinating with a team of graduate student graders. 

Other Qualifications & Experiences

  • Won the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for Policy Analysis and Management from the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University. Fall, 2019. 

  • Completed a graduate level course at Cornell University in teaching and how to incorporate writing instruction into major/discipline specific classes (WRIT 7101). Coursework covered course design and syllabus creation, strategies for consistency in grading and evaluation, incorporating feedback and writing development across disciplines, and strategies for classroom management. Fall, 2017. 

  • Earned a Master's in Education from the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. Spring, 2016.

  • Completed a multi-day workshop on university level teaching at the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. The workshop focused on backward design in class development, rigorous and consistent grading strategies, assignment design and rubric development, effective teaching strategies, classroom management strategies, and creating engaging coursework at the undergraduate and graduate level for the 21st century student. Winter, 2015

  • Certified secondary educator in the State of Connecticut. Taught 11th and 12th grade Spanish, Life Skills, and a psycho-educational curriculum at Stamford Academy. In addition to the regular duties of a high school teacher, I designed my own curriculum and textbooks, founded a service learning program, and founded the Spanish Student Union. 2012-2014.

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