Francis T. Koti, PhD, GISP

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Tanzania Study Abroad Program


Graduate Thesis Supervision

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My Teaching Philosophy

My teaching is driven by a simple philosophy: Effective teaching should make a difference. Aware that this cannot be achieved overnight, I set long term goals premised on incremental change in the way my students view the world, themselves, others, and life in general. As such, my courses emphasize not just mastery of content and acquisition of skills but also critical thinking, reflective practice, and effective writing and communication.

Teachers are not born, but made – teaching is thus an evolving art and skill that must be continuously improved. I take each lesson, each topic, and each semester as another opportunity to improve my teaching approach.

Effectiveness in teaching starts from a liking for the job, and a deliberate effort to understand and connect with students. My students have severally told me that my enthusiasm in and passion for teaching shows each time I walk into the classroom.

Teaching is a reciprocal process. I have come to believe that nothing else makes a student more comfortable in class and enthusiastic about a subject than to know that their viewpoint counts.

I believe that a classroom is not homogeneous, but rather a combination of different and unique individuals. I enter the classroom each day with a new challenge: to create a learning environment conducive to a diversity of backgrounds.

Knowing students by name makes a world of difference in the learning process. By the third week of the semester, I know all my students by name. Simple as it may sound; I have found this to spark student interest in the course and also improve class participation.

As a field science, geography cannot be confined to the classroom only. Furthermore, I strongly believe that the classroom should be a place we learn what we experience, and the field, a place we experience what we learn. As such, I have made fieldwork a strong component of all my courses. 

With the current generation of students, a teacher must also be an advisor, role model, a mentor, and a friend to his students. I have heard students say, "I don’t like teaching, but if teaching is to be like Mr. Koti, I don’t mind it for a career."

Effective teachers must be ready to learn from and work with others. My teaching is open to unbiased critique from colleagues, peers, and also students.

As a field of inquiry, teaching must be buttressed by a commitment to research and scholarship to acquire new ideas. My teaching constantly draws from my research. 

A teacher is a member of a society and must give back to his community in service. Although I am a firm believer in teaching as the primary goal of the profession, I maintain a balance with research and service to the community.

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • GE102  World Regional Geography (Fall; Spring; Summer)
  • GE111  Principles of Physical Geography – Weather and Climate (Fall; Spring; Summer)
  • GE350  Geography of Africa; Fall; Summer (includes Africa Study Abroad Program)
  • GE384  Geographic Information Systems (Spring)
  • GE390  Urban Geography (Spring)
  • GE420/520  Principles of Urban and Regional Planning (Fall)
  • GE600  Geographic Thought (Fall)

Previous Courses Taught

  • GE303  Geography of the South (US)
  • GE304  Geography of US and Canada; and
  • GE413  Geography of the Far East (among others)
  • GE601  Physical Geography for K-12 Teachers