Teaching Philosophy | James Howard Teaching Philosophy | James Howard

James Howard A Mathematician, a Different Kind of Mathematician, and a Statistician

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Teaching Philosophy

Teaching is the opportunity to share the joy and passion of the material with others who might engage in it. My goal is to connect the students and the material through familiar applications showing the value of lifelong application. Working with students to see the material as something they will use every day, and probably are without knowing it, gives them the motivation to live the material.

I learned the value of this connection by teaching at the University of Baltimore. In my first two semesters, I used a research project, culminating in a paper where the students had to explore the financial or economic effects of a policy or program that interests them. Research-based learning is excellent for methodological instruction, and this has encouraged them to understand that finances and economics underlie much policy.

However, I wanted to take my instruction outside the classroom. So I led my graduate students as they applied their learning to make Baltimore a better place. One semester, in a financial management class, my students started a nonprofit from scratch. Most of an organization’s startup is in financial management and accounting. For a nonprofit, the start-up phase also includes managing tax-exempt status, a nontrivial task. For many students, this service activity will be the biggest community leadership opportunity they have had. I was fortunate to have the department’s support and encouragement in this unconventional approach to teaching financial management.

In all of my classes, I like to use specific examples from the real world to connect the material to their life. In an undergraduate mathematics course, this may involve something as common as measurements for cooking or an analysis of a baseball player, a popular topic in business mathematics. For graduate students, that may involve taking their work and life and putting it into the material. From a student running a transformation project at their job to one planning a wedding, the connections exist when you look for them.


I have taught undergraduate mathematics at the University of Maryland Global Campus since 2010, when it was called the University of Maryland University College. UMGC’s classes are primarily delivered via distance education, though some courses are “hybrid” including a weekly session on campus, usually at the University of Maryland, College Park. At UMGC, I routinely teach the introductory mathematics courses:

I have also taught other courses from the mathematics program:

Finally, I have taught courses from our statistics program. We are now down to just STAT 200, but we previously had an array of thematically-linked statistics classes for business, social science, and computer science:

  • STAT 200 Introduction to Statistics This is an introduction to applied statistics. Probability, t-tests, and [latex]\chi^2[/latex]-tests are introduced. Application areas are broadly selected from across many different fields.
  • STAT 230 Introductory Business Statistics This is is essentially the same as STAT 200, but the examples are drawn primarily from business settings and include production and finance problems. This class has since been discontinued in favor of STAT 200, above, as a generalized statistics course.

Public Affairs and Management

The University of New Mexico

For the fall of 2022, I was invited to teach in the the University of New Mexico master of public administration program.

  • PADM 596 Research Methods II: Data Analysis This course covers advanced statistics with a specific application to public management. One interesting feature of this course is an explicit Stata knowledge requirement.

Baruch College

In the Spring of 2021, I was invited to cover a course for the Baruch College public and international affairs programs in the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs.

Central Michigan University

In the spring of 2017, I started occasionally teaching in the Master of Science in Administration (MSA) program at Central Michigan University. It may seem like a long commute, but my courses are taught at Joint Base Andrews, here in Maryland, through the Central Michigan Global Campus initiative. The MSA program is a degree in management focusing on technical administration, drawing on the course content common in both master of public administration and master of business administration programs. I have taught four different courses for Central Michigan.

The Pennsylvania State University

In the fall of 2018, I was invited to cover a course for the Penn State master of public administration program.

  • PADM 503 Research Methods Like MSA 600 at Central Michigan, this course covers the basic research process with a specific application to public management. One interesting feature of this course is an explicit SPSS knowledge requirement.

University of Baltimore

During the spring of 2014, the University of Baltimore’s School of Public and International Affairs invited me to teach in their master of public administration program. I taught for the following three semesters and taught courses over two years from the budgeting and fiscal administration track:

  • PUAD 701 Public Administration and Public Finance This course will consider the economic impacts of governmental policies, especially at the state and local level.
  • PUAD 702 Public Financial Management A discussion of public financial management, including debt management, accounting policies, performance management, and accountability. This discussion should extend beyond the introductory graduate-level course on budgeting.

Image by Luke Jones.