Archive for the ‘Teacher Assistant’ tag
Brief: I got my TA evaluations from BIOL 208 back last week (which I taught with Ariana in fall 2009) and it looks the students liked my instruction. The overall positive response is encouraging but I’m concerned that they’ve actually been too kind. The whole thing was something of a learning experience for me as I’ve never given tutorials before. The written remarks were very informative too. There are two big things the students wanted more of: first, I should increase the depth of my background in the course; second, I should ensure there’s time to take up quiz and workbook questions. The first item is a bit difficult to do actively mostly because it’s hard to proactively decide on what kinds of questions a student will have cooked up based on the readings available for a given week. It looks like it’s a self-repairing problem however — I simply have to TA more in and around the same topic area until the background information is second hand (or at least until all the keywords are loaded into my brain along with hints toward appropriate literature). The second point is important. The amount of time needed to take up questions can be built into the lesson plan — I think the best way to approach this is to reduce the amount that we try to cover in the tutorial slide show. Besides, there’s little advantage to repeating all of the same things as the instructor (particularly if we might say it differently, or explain it in a way that’s even more confusing or worse, disagree with the instructor). It’s thus better to focus on giving the background for the workbook questions. I figure that an average of 25% to 33% less material covered will enable us to focus in on the workbook and allow us to discuss quiz questions (and spurious questions) etc. with sufficient time.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable and instructional experience .
Wow, it’s been half the semester already. It’s been a good experience so far. This job has highlighted two key things I should work on though. First, it’s impossible to know everything that can be asked in a given tutorial, so I should figure out what the boundaries for the module are (i.e. what the current module does not approach), and know the most likely places the answers are in the textbook so I can refer to an official explanation when I’ve drawn a blank. Providing answers that go beyond the scope of a course is actually harmful since it affects students’ recall during examinations! Second, I need to reduce the amount of repetition I use to explain something. Specifically, saying the same sentence twice doesn’t help comprehension– clearly, there’s something incompatible about that sentence.
Overall though, I’m happy with how the tutorials are progressing and how our (my and Ariana’s) introductory slide shows go– The quizzes at the end of class have progressed into being a very smooth transaction too.
In about half an hour, I have to head down to watch them all write a midterm along with the other TAs.
Applications for Winter TA positions are due soon.
It might be nice to do a hands-on laboratory course next, but tutorials are certainly pleasant.
Brief: Analytical Methods in Molecular Biology is the course that I’ll be TAing this term. It looks like it’ll be a lot of fun. I’m surprised at the amount I remember from my courses at Guelph; I’m also surprised by the amount I’m relearning.
Update: I’ll outline the course here– we discuss the reason to, and how to use synthetic biology in order to identify and characterize genes. Characterization is an intentionally broad word indicating the determination of the putative DNA sequence in question, the range of phenotypes its alleles produce, the mass, charge, solubility of the protein it produces along with catalytic and structural activity etc., and finally some profile generated using various bioinformatics scoring for the labeling of homologues, related structures and sequences etc.. Well, that’s my take on it so far although I likely will revise my understanding of the nature of this course as I progress through it.
My TA partner is Ariana Marcassa who finds herself in her third year of undergrad. I think we’ll make a good team.
I know what you mean about the learning, I’m discovering the same thing as I TA for the first time this semester
I’m actually very happy about this course… I’ll have to come bother you about which course you TA. Oh hey, that’s right– you’re at Guelph! So you must be doing a computer science course.
Brief: I got my T.A. assignment from Waterloo– I’m going to do tutorials for 208: Analytical Methods in Molecular Biology!
Met with Dr. Meiering (Liz) and Dr. McConkey (Brendan) on Tuesday.
We’ve basically decided on the courses that I’m best suited for in the role of a TA. They recommended that I try out for Molecular Biotechnology since it relates especially to the thesis I’ll be working on. I’m tempted to agree as well, especially since I do have a bit of history with the stuff in my undergraduate project as well as iGem last year. As a secondary choice, I chose Cell Biology as it’s something I’m very familiar with and use in day to day activities.