Lorinda Riley

A photo of Lorinda Riley

Title: Associate Professor
Department: Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health
College/School: Office of Public Health Studies
Showcase Course: PH673: Health, Ethics, Law, and Politics
Email: lorindar@hawaii.edu

My teaching moves beyond lectures and reading materials to infusing real world examples, many of which come from my experience as a practitioner and detailed case studies to encourage active learning.

Click to read more about Lorinda’s Teaching Philosophy

“E lawe i ke ao a malama, a e ʻoi mau ka naʻauao.”
– Take what you learn and apply it and your knowledge increases.

I believe learning is an unique experience for each student that benefits from a strong student-teacher relationship. To solidify this relationship I focus on creating a safe and informal learning environment that allows students to be open to new ideas and relieves the anxiety that many local, minority, and first-generation students feel as they encounter new materials. Once trust has developed, I am better able to challenge the students using a transformative student-centered approach.

My teaching moves beyond lectures and reading materials to infusing real world examples, many of which come from my experience as a practitioner and detailed case studies to encourage active learning. Recognizing that many students are focused on their future careers, creating assignments that mirror those in workplace is essential.

Applied Civic Action-Oriented Project Learning

Showcase Video

Teaching Practice

Through a series of scaffolded steps designed to provide student feedback throughout the process, students will uncover a topic of interest that the federal government is proposing to issue regulations on related to public health and Indigenous people and ultimately submit a written comment in support, opposition, or requesting modifications. Although, this assignment was specific to public health and Indigenous people, it can be applied to any field as governments regulate across disciplines.

1. Process teaching

ʻO ke kahua ma mua, ma hope ke kikulu.
– First the foundation, then the building

To be an effective advocate in the regulatory process a certain level of civil knowledge is required. Retired Supreme Court Justice Souter said that the biggest problem in the US today is the “pervasive civic ignorance,” noting that “democracy cannot survive too much ignorance.” Thus, instructors must provide a foundation for students related to the structure of our government, constitution, and socio-historical legal context of the US. Developing this expertise may require some commitment on the part of the instructor, but through the use of online resources, guest lecturers, and independent study this is achievable.

2. Applied case studies

He pukoʻa kani ʻaina.
– A coral polyp that grows into an island.

Case studies have been shown to increase retention of knowledge (Koford & Parkhurst, 2018; Young & Anderson, 2010) and deepen student understanding of the multi-dimensional aspects of real world problemsn (El-Shaer & Gaber, 2014; Shneiderman & Plaisant, 2006). They further allow students to engage with challenging material in an informal environment where they can bring their own perspectives on a topic enriching the entire conversation.

3. Reflective writing

ʻO ka makapo wale no ka mea hapapa i ka pouli.
– If you are going nowhere, you are guaranteed to get there.

Reflectivity is a critical element in many Indigenous focused methods and is incorporated throughout this practice (Russell-Mundine, 2012). In addition, to providing the time and space to critically reflect on the material, it also allows the student to better understand the perspectives they bring to the topic.

4. In Class research and group discussion

ʻAʻohe hana nui ke alu ʻia.
– No task is too big when done together by all.

Collaboration is interwoven throughout this practice by providing in class time for students to share ideas, discuss strategies, and brainstorm rhetorical arguments. This also reflects how legal and policy advocacy is performed by professionals.

5. Presentation with direct feedback

ʻAʻohe ulu e loaʻa i ka pokole o ka lou.
– No breadfruit can be reached when the picking stick is too short.

Prior to submitting their written comment the students present their background research on the regulation along with their initial key issues that they plan to address in their comments. The process of supporting their arguments along with questions from other students and the instructor improves the quality and effectiveness of their final comment.

6. Comment

ʻAʻohe loaʻa i ka noho wale.
– Nothing is gained by ideleness.

The practice culminates in the submission of a comment to a federal agency on a proposed rule. Under the Administrative Procedure Act the agency must be addressed each unique comment prior to issuing the final rule.

The end result of this teaching practice is that students discover their voice and gain the civic knowledge necessary to engage in action-oriented advocacy on a topic of their choice. Public health is inextricably intertwined with policy making this type of applied civic project ideal, however, it can easily be translated to other disciplines such as natural sciences, engineering, nutrition, and social sciences.

The applied civic action-oriented project learning practice engages students by allow them to control the topic and focus of their culminating assignment. It also ensures that students not only understand learning objectives in the course through research that applies the course content to their selected rulemaking topic, but also develops communication, collaboration, rhetorical, and strategic advocacy skills.


I ulu no ka lala i ke kumu.
– The branch grows because of the trunk.

Students excelled at various stages of this process, but especially in their advocacy skills. 90% achieved a score of excellent in their oral advocacy presentation. All students attained achieved acceptable scores in their written comment.

Almost as important, 90% of students identified pride in their engagement during their reflections, and 100% of students indicated that they learned a new skill or strategy to improve their advocacy. As verified self-reporting 85% of students officially submitted their comment to the federal agency. In addition, over 20% of students at least one additional comment. These additional comments were the direct result of the presentations of other students. 35% of students independently corresponded with the instructor highlighting the importance of these skills. Thus, this teaching practice can develop a cadre of students that can effectively engage and make their voices heard on matters they care about.

Supplemental Material