Insight: Autumn 2007

Autumn 2007

Faculty Spotlight: David Goldstein

Opening Minds - 2007 Distinguished Teaching Award Winner

By Cliff Meyer

The movie screenings and lunch break have ended, and Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences (IAS) Lecturer David S. Goldstein's "Topics in Advanced Cinema Studies: Queer Cinema" class has split up into small-group discussions of up to five students.

But where did they all go? As Goldstein strides down a hallway in UW1, he peers into classrooms, and finds them empty.

The course runs five hours, on summertime Fridays. Could the students have skipped out?

David Goldstein David Goldstein

Not a chance. Goldstein is UW Bothell's 2007 Distinguished Teaching Award winner, and students relish their time with him. A few more steps down the hall and Goldstein finds the first group, busily debating a theme he assigned in advance. As he sits down to join the students, they are ready to share a laugh over his declaration that it is "role-reversal day" - the quieter people are expected to do more of the talking. "Do I get to talk at all?" jokes one admittedly overactive participant.

Actually, students have found it hard to be quiet in the 60 or so courses on ethnic American literature and other facets of American culture taught by Goldstein during his 10-year career at UW Bothell. He expects participation, and encourages it by creating a curriculum that blends online posting of work, Web-based discussions, varied types of in-class interaction, extensive, constructive student evaluation and other techniques.

Jennifer Gess (IAS '07), who has taken four of his courses, says "As a shy person, I am intimidated easily in large classes and prefer talking in small groups. He has changed my approach to learning, since his teaching style involves integrating the whole class." As someone interested in becoming a special education teacher, she adds, "David's teaching style has broadened my perspective on how I would like to teach in the future."

I'm not as interested in changing minds as in opening them. David Goldstein

"Instead of turning students off with his high standards, he attracts them," notes his colleague, Professor of Art History JoLynn Edwards. "He teaches more students per year than any other IAS faculty member," said Edwards, a former Distinguished Teaching Award winner who was director of IAS until August.

The care Goldstein puts into his teaching is reflected in his carefully documented approach to feedback on student writing (see Goldstein first assesses whether a paper appears to be in an "early," "middle" or "late" draft. He writes extensive comments, and grades each of five categories (content, organization, references, formatting and mechanics). All work is submitted online, and becomes part of a Web-based "portfolio" that enables better tracking of progress. The technology, part of a suite of tools UW has dubbed "Catalyst," is available to every faculty member, but Goldstein is acknowledged as one of the best at using it. (See

David Goldstein at the 2007 UW Bothell Commencement Ceremony

Goldstein, 45, earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Irvine. He traces his research and teaching interests to growing up in a mostly white, middle-class community in Orange County, California. He says, "By the time I went off to college at UC Riverside, which is a very diverse campus, I realized that there were many American experiences that differed quite a bit from my own, and I've been trying to catch up ever since."

Goldstein's largest body of research focuses on Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. "The sophistication of the structure of her stories, the brilliance of the language, and the unstinting love and humanity expressed in those stories leave me both thrilled and deeply humbled," he says. Most recently he and Audrey B. Thacker of California State University, Northridge, edited a collection of essays published in June by the University of Washington Press, "Complicating Constructions: Race, Ethnicity, and Hybridity in American Texts." (See

Goldstein delights in those moments when a student's mind is opened to other ways of seeing something. "I'm not as interested in changing minds as in opening them," he says. "And of course, my mind gets opened, too. I learn every day from my students."


4th Annual Choice Words Lecture - Oct. 25
Once More, With Feeling: Whole People and Partial Lessons

Join us for a free evening of engaging conversation as UW Bothell's David Goldstein inquisitively looks at the place of emotions in academics and shares his own introspective take on learning from mistakes.
Learn More