Assistant professor prioritizes student engagement and critical thinking: Q&A with Meredith Naughton

Meredith Naughton

Meredith Naughton is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University. Learn more about why she came to CSU and her teaching philosophy.

What brought you to this Department at CSU?

The interdisciplinary lifespan focus of Human Development and Family Science drew me into the department, especially since my interests around youth mentoring as well as social-emotional and identity development align with department strengths in exciting ways. HDFS students have so many possible career and educational pathways that it’s invigorating to be surrounded by students and faculty who value multiple approaches to growth and development.

What’s your teaching philosophy? 

I embrace the belief that learning is an active and social process, so my teaching philosophy prioritizes student engagement and critical thinking as much as possible. This means students have to engage with each other as well as with the material, and that requires creating a classroom environment where student voices, experiences, and ideas are valued.  

What are your research interests, and how did you get into that topic?

My research interests are driven by a variety of personal experiences and professional roles in the field of education and especially, college access. I’m a first-generation college graduate, and I’ve had the privilege of supporting student learning and success on both coasts as well as in my home state of Missouri. My early professional experience as a high school teacher in California and then as a TRIO director for a rural Upward Bound program inspired a particular passion for working with youth who have been historically disadvantaged in the college-going process. 

As a qualitative researcher, I ask a lot of how and why questions to understand better and ultimately support student goals for college enrollment and success. For example, my dissertation research explored the ways near-peer mentors in three high schools uniquely built and used relationships with students to support their college aspirations. My future research will continue these threads of inquiry in the areas of mentoring, the development and enactment of college-bound identities, and programming that supports student instrumental and relational needs for success getting to and through college. 

What’s your favorite thing about campus?

I’m constantly left breathless by the views from the 4th floor of the Behavioral Science Building (and not just from climbing the stairs).  I also love how the campus promotes and embraces its place in the environment with everything from a focus on sustainability to being able to borrow outdoor equipment and get a ride to the ski slopes. 

What classes will you be teaching?

I’ll be teaching HDFS 311, Adolescent & Early Adult Development in Context, during the fall of 2020.

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.