Braden's teaching philosophy is founded through the experiences he has had both as a student, a teaching assistant, and an instructor. As a student, he respected instructors that respected their students. It was extremely evident to him as a student which instructors were well prepared for class, organized, and on-time. This translated into a positive learning environment as the students respected the instructor and the material was presented in a clear, well-organized manner. Often, these were the same instructors that took the initiative to engage the class in active communication during lectures. This translated into the students absorbing the material at a higher rate and performing better on midterms/examinations. As he began the transition from an undergraduate student to a graduate student, he began to appreciate the instructors that took the time to make the connection between theory and practice. Now as an instructor, he places a high value on developing skills that the students will use for the rest of their lives, not just the technical skills necessary to get a good grade in the course. The three key principles that guide his teaching practice are:
Leading by example. Braden's teaching philosophy places a high value on being a positive role model for his students, both inside and outside of the classroom. He understands that students come from a variety of backgrounds. He believes that inherent to being a university instructor is the influence the instructor has on the student’s mindset and personal development. As an instructor, he aims to instill a strong work ethic, time management skills, organizational skills, and leadership skills in his students through leading by example. He understands that it is unfair of him to ask these skills of his students if he is unwilling to place a high emphasis on these skills himself. He believes that these life skills are highly indicative of success in the workplace and that it is his job as an instructor to attempt to develop these skills in his students along with their technical skills.
Creating an engaging learning environment. To Braden, the classroom is a place of discussion. It is a place where it is permissible to ask questions and generate conversation. He believes that an active learning environment is much more effective than a passive learning environment. As an instructor, he is constantly engaging the class to the best of his ability. He constantly generates new methods of promoting discussion and engaging students. In the faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, it is far too easy for an instructor to flip through slides of mathematic equations leaving students disengaged. Braden's philosophy is to constantly promote discussion of mathematics. He does not mind putting students on the spot and asking them what the next step in a math problem is, or to ask them why we are performing this derivation in the first place. He strongly emphasizes that it is completely fine for the students to make mistakes in the classroom because that is when learning takes place. With class sizes of 200+ students, they are surely not the only one with an incorrect answer. Engaging the students both provides feedback with how the students are comprehending the material, and it promotes a positive learning environment for the students.
Linking theory and practice. Braden strongly believes that it is his role as an instructor to make the link between theory and practice as strong as possible. As an instructor, he has the experience to know the value of the theory, and he has the ability to highlight the important concepts of the theory to the students so that they can use it in practice. Students can learn the pure theory out of a textbook; the instructor adds value by linking the theory to practice by using their expertise. Braden believes that if he cannot add any more value to a student’s education than what they can learn from a textbook, he is not doing his job. The true value he brings to the table is the ability to speak from his experience both in research and industry and to educate the students on the concepts that they will need after graduation. This philosophy sets the students up for success in the workplace as well as the classroom.