Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Quarter 2010 Schedule

4/5 - Social @ Uncle Vito's
4/12 - Non-majors in the classroom
4/19 – Teaching cultural differences
4/26 – Assessment:  types and challenges
5/3 – Putting Motivation in your teaching toolbox
5/10 – Technology for the classroom
5/17 – Guest Speaker Richard McElreath
5/24 – More toolbox -- Get them engaged
5/31 - Reflection and BBQ

GTC has moved!  All events take place from 5 - 6:00PM in 185 Physics except the 'Socials' which have different locations as noted.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Student Assessment

On Monday we talked about Student Assessment. We construed this very broadly including informal and formative assessment such as in class questioning and student body language through summative assessments such as papers and take home exams. We started the evening with a discussions of reasons Why we assess students and came up with the following list:
  1. to rank students
  2. so teacher knows if students are learning
  3. so students know if they are learning
  4. give students feed back on quality (#3 also)
  5. Motivate students to org thoughts (study)
  6. as tool for learning it self ( take home/ HW also #5)
  7. practice real world(perform surgery)
  8. transferable( critical thinking, public speaking, group work)
  9. production of product (portfolio in art class)
We then brainstormed for our learning goals for courses, or what we wanted to assess. We had quite a discussion about what we wanted students to get out of our classes. We continued with a brief discussion of how we assess, e.g. self assessments, problem solving exam etc.

We had a protracted discussion about the relative importance of the various whats (what we assess for) and whys (purposes of assessment) we then talked about which methods of assessment (hows) assessed what and why would use that assessment. Our conclusion was that many forms of assessment assessed most of our learning goals, but with differing weights. We left with three questions for us to consider;

i) What is it about the various formats of assessing (hows), that fell into particular categories of what and why, that made them fall into that category?
ii) Do the forms of assessment you use in your classes match with the your learning goals?
iii) If not, how can you assess what you care about?

We welcome your comments about matching assessment in learning goals, or any or other thoughts you have on the topic of student assessment.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Teaching Philosophy

On Monday the GTC discussed teaching philosophies: why faculty and grad students teach the way they do. 1 group talked about how grades influence teaching, and how teaching and learning might be different in their absence. This group also discussed testing and grading standards and whether there should be non-quantifiable aspects of education. The 2nd group talked about whether there are universal educational practices and outcomes that all instructors should strive for, no matter who their students may be or what the subject they're teaching. John talked about the pedagogical value of camping, and more generally, that group talked about the importance of leaving the classroom. What happens when it rains was left for another day. Four counterfactual exercises anchored the discussions (to see these, take a look at the attached "Zen and the Art of Being a TA: Counterfactual Classes, Real Philosophies of Teaching").

So what do the readers of this blog think? Do grades hinder or help learning? Should students be taught the same things even if in different ways? Does learning occur differently and better when it happens outside the classroom? Has your teaching ever influenced your research, or is it just a contractual obligation to the university you must fulfill?