Teaching Portfolio

Documentation of Teaching

This section provides more information on the two courses I have taught multiples times since 2009: An Introduction to Urban Studies and B’more Innovative: Studying Change in Charm City.  I also include material I developed as a teaching assistant for Introduction to Sociology in 2009 and background on faculty development training I led including a 1.5 day workshop on Best Practices in University Teaching.


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An Introduction to Urban Studies (15-20 students)

Lead Instructor

Course Description: 

Through an exploration of urban topics, this course will introduce students to data collection and analysis methods used in the social sciences.  Students will discuss relevant research published by Johns Hopkins faculty in urban studies. Students will also gain an introduction to their adopted home, Baltimore, by collecting data and conducting field observations in different neighborhoods. (Syllabus)

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course students will be able to do the following.

  • define introductory social science constructs
  • describe relevant research questions that social scientists ask in urban studies; and
  • apply basic social science data collection and analysis techniques
Final Assignment: Investigating Urban Neighborhoods

Figure 1: Student Collecting Data in Bolton Hill Neighborhood
Figure 2: Students Collecting Data at the Cross Street Public Market

Baltimore is a city of segregated neighborhoods.  Average household income can triple and average life expectancy drop 15 years by walking the 2-3 blocks between communities.
Students conduct a preliminary, comparative analysis of data collected in two Baltimore neighborhoods.  The class will define possible research questions to explore and data collection protocols that all groups will follow.  The instructor will escort each group into the field.  Students will develop a 10-minute presentation for the final week of class.  Students will write a paper (approximately 3-4 pages double-spaced) synthesizing their findings, which they submit individually to Turnitin.  Students also submit a peer evaluation of each teammate.

Select Comments (2015, 2016, 2017)
  • I love this class :) :) :) :) :) Actually being able to go in to Baltimore and interview people as well as having presentations from outside guests is incredibly valuable
  • Professor Reese's lecture during SOHOP was one of the strongest factors that ultimately influenced my decision to attend Hopkins, and he has been everything that I could have hoped for in a professor and more. He truly cares about his students, the Hopkins community, and Baltimore at large, and makes this clear through lectures which encourage detailed, free-flowing dialogue. He also always provides us with intellectually stimulating articles to explore, and provides detailed feedback on our writing. Professor Reese takes great care to deliberate on how to craft his lectures to be the most effective for his students, and his signature project involving a neighborhood comparison in inner Baltimore has been one of the most unique scholastic experiences that I've ever had. I am truly thankful to Professor Reese for being such an excellent professor/person, and am lucky to have had the chance to take a class like his during my first semester here.
  • It was really insightful to go out into Baltimore and take a more hands on approach to urban studies. The speakers that were brought in also offered different and thoughtful perspectives. It was probably the most useful and interesting course I took this semester.
  • Course is extremely engaging. Touches upon different topics and centered on Baltimore topics. Instructor tries to bring in Hopkins research and faculty when relevant. Dialectical approach to class. Field component and interactions with different people in Baltimore. Instructor extremely easy to talk to.
  • Professor Reese was visibly passionate about teaching and incorporated a wide range of concepts over a short period of time. The opportunity to do fieldwork was constructive and enjoyable.
  • The best aspect is going out into neighborhoods and collecting data. I loved hearing from the residents. I also got to see aspects of Baltimore I have not before.
  • Professor Reese is a very excellent teacher, and he knows how to make students understand new concepts without confusing or overwhelming them. The assignments were all very interesting, and helped me to understand the concepts taught even better. The field work was fascinating, and it was very interesting to see concepts taught be used in the real world.
  • The course is very interactive; you have the ability to communicate your ideas during class. And have the ability to also go out into Baltimore to apply the concepts you have learned.
  • The course is very interesting and interactive. Field work gives students experience. Professor is very knowledgeable and approachable.

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B’more Innovative: Studying Change in Charm City (20-25 students)

Lead Instructor

Course Description:

Ideas that changed the world originated from Baltimore. In this course, we will discuss how ideas and innovations are born, spread, succeed and fail by examining case studies connected to Baltimore. In-class activities will provide insight into how entrepreneurs and activists promote change. Field trips will inform class conversations about technological and cultural innovations along with the societal and economic consequences of those changes. Questions the class will explore include:  Why do new ideas or innovations succeed or fail?  What are the consequences of innovations on society?  What role do individuals and social groups play in diffusing new ideas?  (Syllabus)

Final Assignment: Innovation Proposal

Johns Hopkins recently became your home for the next several years. What legacy do you want to leave behind after you graduate? For your final project, you will team up with a classmate to write a 5-page, double-spaced proposal (or longer if needed) describing an innovation (curriculum reform, new student services, extra-curricular program, changed admissions/student policies) that would improve life at JHU. Think about what you want Johns Hopkins to offer you. I am less interested in the creativity of your idea and more interested in how you apply the concepts learned in class to develop a diffusion plan.

Originally, students were asked to develop an innovation to improve life in Baltimore. Based on students’ work and course evaluation feedback, I changed the focus to improving student life at Johns Hopkins so the project was more relevant to students and more focused.

Example Student Work:

In 2010, I worked with the editors of The Baltimore Sun to publish summary articles of the best essays in class on the Op-Ed page (May 20, 2010).

Select Student Comments

What are the best aspects of this course?

  • I especially like how we're given the chance to come up with an innovation to improve Hopkins and really have the potential to be heard and make a change.
  • Unlike any other class I have taken thus far at Hopkins.
  • The field trips have been great. I thought I knew a lot about Baltimore but this class has given me a whole new perspective on how the city has changed.
  • Great teaching
  • Was engaged and interested throughout the whole course. Teacher really made a successful effort to have lively discussion.
  • The course allowed the class to explore the city of Baltimore. Mike Reese is awesome. My classmates were awesome.
  • The case studies for innovation were interesting and relevant.
  • It was clear that Mike was very passionate about both the subject and teaching. He made the course material very interesting and supplemented it with field trips to relevant places. He was very laid back and I felt like I could talk to him as a peer instead of as a teacher.
  • You really get to know Baltimore, it is incredibly interesting and eye-opening, and Mike Reese is an excellent instructor.
  • The best aspects were, the daily field trips and the lessons learnt on those trips, the exposure to the issues in Baltimore as well as it was intellectually stimulating due to the fact that we had to create our own innovation. Also due to the presentation and discussion aspect requirement, which really helped students to be more confident with public speaking. Another great facet of the course was the amazing professor who was very approachable and really connected with the students.
  • I learned a lot about social innovation. I enjoyed coming up with my own idea for an innovation to improve Johns Hopkins.
  • Great teaching, passionate guy
“Nothing,” was the most common response to the question, “What is the worst aspect of this class?”

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Introduction to Sociology (100 students)

Teaching Assistant

Course Description:

The course will introduce students to the discipline of Sociology (the scientific study of human social life). Students will learn about the major theoretical approaches in the field as well as the diverse research methods used in sociological investigations. These tools will be applied to a wide variety of specific topics studied by sociologists, including family and work, as well as the dynamics of class, gender, race and ethnic inequalities within and across countries.


As a teaching assistant (TA) for this course, I was responsible for designing and facilitating two weekly small-group recitation sections (20 students/section). I also was responsible for grading exams and homeworks.  I organized a weekly instructional design session with the other TAs to share curriculum ideas for the recitation sections.  Example lessons include the following.

Example Lesson Plan: The Social Construction of Gender

I created flashcards of well-known celebrities that individual students were instructed to sort on a scale ranging from most masculine to most feminine.  All students share their ranked order at the front of the room. I used the differences in how students sorted the cards to facilitate a discussion about the social factors that influence how individuals interpret gender along with how gender can be viewed as a social structure (i.e., enduring orderly and patterned relationships in society).  This activity is very impactful when students from different cultures participate.


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Best Practices in University Teaching (Faculty Workshop)

Lead Designer and Facilitator

Workshop Description:

This 1.5 day workshop for faculty presents pedagogical best practices used at Johns Hopkins and peer institutions. In a variety of interactive settings, participants will explore such topics as: how students learn, course design, research-based pedagogical strategies, course assessment methods, and effective uses of educational technology. Participants will have an opportunity to develop a peer-reviewed lesson plan that can be applied directly to their own classes. This is a great opportunity for new faculty who are interested in learning about evidence-based teaching practices.


Acted as the lead designer in which I coordinate a team of instructional designers and faculty to design the workshop’s five sessions.  I acted as the main facilitator for the overall workshop and facilitate a session on the backwards design process.

Workshop Evaluation

On a 4-point scale, 75% of the respondents (n=12 out of 18) gave it the highest rating (Excellent), and the remaining 25% gave it the second highest rating (Good)
While participants communicated that they enjoyed the workshop, the best measure of success is behavioral change. The following graphs document a commitment to adopt the best practices shared during the workshop on the survey (Example Graphs Below)

The previous data documents a commitment to adopt teaching best practices.  Did faculty follow through on that commitment? To answer that question, I held a lunch conversation with 8 of the participants, and scheduled 4 additional individual conversations with participants who could not attend the lunch discussion.  Every participant adopted at least one of the best practices shared during the workshop and most adopted more than one (measure of behavioral change). Two of the faculty participants began working with faculty in their department to adopt teaching methods presented in the workshop (measure of institutional change).

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Teaching Institute (Graduate Student Workshop)

Session Facilitator

Workshop Description:

A three-day workshop for doctoral students and post-docs to develop their classroom teaching skills. Approximately 150 students from Johns Hopkins and other research universities attend this workshop each year.  Participants learn pedagogical best practices, and apply these skills by developing and facilitating a mini-lesson.

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Other Workshops Facilitated

  • Workshop Design Best Practices – Center for Government Excellence (April 2018)
  • Conducting Educational Research - JHU Advanced Academic Program (April 2018)
  • Flipping Your Course – JHU School of Nursing (March 2018); JHU Peabody Conservatory (December 2017)
  • Community–based Learning - JHU Teaching Academy (September 2017)
  • Digital Field Assignments: Course Projects for the Net Generation  - Reinvention Center (July 2008)