Friday, May 29, 2009

Teaching Workshop III

The fourth session of the teaching workshop involved more micro-teaching. However, unlike the second session, where we had to prepare something, this was all about reacting in the moment. To incivilities none-the-less.

For the first hour, the whole group discussed a situation in which an incident occurred between a female and male student in a lab (no, it wasn't sexual in nature). The incident was reported to the lab TA (who did not witness the event) by two other students in the lab. The TA and the two students let the course instructor know, who then came to us (the course coordinator). The female involved did not want to file a formal complaint, but did want to change lab partners. We discussed the players, the issues, what/who would be the most difficult to deal with, and in what order would we speak to each person.

The second half of the session, we split into two groups and did role plays where someone had to be the instructor and had to react in the moment to certain incivilities: a student answering a cell phone, students talking loudly in class, students asking for grade increases, students not doing the readings for class, and potential plagarism. After the role play, everyone brainstormed ideas on how to deal with the situation in the moment (reaction) or how it could have been prevented (proaction). It was very interesting!

The fifth, and last, session was about evaluation processes in the classroom (Class Assessment Techniques - CATs). This included both informal (asking questions during lecture, leading discussion groups, etc.) and formal (in class quizzes or assignments, etc.) methods. The basic difference between the two is that formal methods typically are associated with an assigned grade, while informal methods are not. We discussed the issues with the different methods (i.e., students may not take the informal methods seriously, but there is a lot of anxiety around the formal ones).

We were then split into groups, and given a scenario in the classroom and had to come up with an assessment method that was useful and helpful for both the instructor and the students. It was interesting to hear what other groups came up with! Although, it would have been nice to hear about other assessment techniques, how they were implemented, and what the results were.

Overall the teaching workshop was really helpful. I wish that I had taking more of these sessions, and I'd recommend them to anyone wanting to teach at some level. The great thing for me was that it renewed my confidence in my teaching, and that it really is what I want to do as a career (and it helps that this whole thesis thing is reminding me how much I hate research/academia :P).