Todd Pheifer


When students from all programs are [given the same question] they have opportunities to share ideas, challenge each other, and expand their views on the world. Todd Pheifer , General Education Instructor , The Art Institute of California—Orange County, a campus of Argosy University

Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I don’t necessarily think of myself as a creative professional. My role is to facilitate cognitive development and infuse critical thinking skills into the next generation of creative professionals. There was not one singular moment when I felt destined to accomplish this work. Life is a process and over time we discover certain directions.

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?

I tell stories from my professional life and experiences, but I always frame them within the context of course outcomes. That way, the students can understand broader concepts through the lens of real-life examples.

What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?

My teaching and mentoring techniques are varied, depending on the objective of the course. So my assignments vary, too. They often focus on the sharing of ideas and posing challenging questions that students must answer through research, dialogue and broader thought. Education is a process, which means that some lessons will be learned in the short term, while other moments of enlightenment will occur when the students are faced with real-world industry challenges.

How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?

In my classroom, collaboration is often accomplished through dialogue. When students from all programs are presented with theoretical or practical questions from society, they have opportunities to share ideas, challenge each other and expand their views on the world.

What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?

Discernment. The world is a complex place, and my goal as an educator is to provide students with the cognitive tools to evaluate society, forecast change and grasp the elements of critical thinking that go into decision-making.