Here is the list of the award winners, including the top two who received the Calvin A. VanderWerf Award.
This was an especially challenging year for all teachers — K-12 and higher ed — due to Covid-19. The teaching assistants we observed, especially those selected as award winners, did an excellent job dealing with variables of online teaching or teaching in a hybrid or face-to-face setting.
I am honored to serve on the Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee to promote the importance of teaching excellence. Every semester, I am inspired by the hardworking, creative and caring graduate student instructors I observe.
Thanks to Dr. Connie Shehan for chairing the committee and to Lorna Dishman, Executive Assistant in the Graduate School, who coordinates the application process and assists with our meetings.
I’ve been listening to class discussions in a wide range of disciplines – psychology, educational technology, acting, kinesiology, history and microbiology to name just some.
Some instructors have led probing insightful discussions, but many discussions remained at a superficial level.
The instructor posed a good opening question that often results with a student providing a very concise “correct answer.” The instructor validates the student’s response but often moves on rather than digging deeper into that correct answer.
Bloom’s Taxonomy is a good reference for designing questions to guide small-group or full-class discussions. The taxonomy originally was published in 1956 by a team of University of Chicago cognitive psychologists and named after Benjamin Bloom who was the committee’s chair.
Bloom’s Taxonomy provides a framework for moving students from the basic levels of learning to higher levels:
Remember – Recall facts and basic concepts
Understand – Explain ideas or concepts
Apply – Use information in new situations
Analyze – Draw connections among ideas
Evaluate – Justify a stand or decision
Create – Produce new or original work
Many classroom discussions are more of a Q&A session that remains at the Remember and Understand levels.
Using the verbs associated with each level (see the chart) can enable instructors to develop questions to guide students to a more in-depth discussion.
For instructors, this change in the kind of questions posed may require developing questions prior to class rather than just going with the flow of the discussion.
Another challenge for instructors with promoting in-depth discussion is that guiding students through those probing questions takes more time. So instructors need to plan for that.
A strategy for the instructor can be to share questions with the students to consider prior to class. That way students have time to think through more probing questions.
The results of these more profound discussions will be worth the extra effort for the students and the instructor.
If you’re like most instructors this fall, you are doing some – or perhaps all – of your teaching online due to Covid-19. You miss being able to safely be in the classroom with your students.
But teaching online provides you an opportunity to do something that rarely happens when you are teaching in person.
You can record yourself as you teach and then use the recording to assess yourself and take steps to improve your teaching.
Over the years, I’ve recorded and critiqued my voice. I used an audio recorder and then my iPhone to record when I was teaching face-to-face classes. When I was doing on-air fundraising for the local public radio station, I asked a friend to record my shifts. As part of a team creating online instruction through GoToMeeting, I would listen to the recorded session.
I’m now observing teaching assistants who are nominees for UF’s Graduate Student Teaching Award. Typically, I’d observe them in classrooms, labs and studios where they would be teaching. But now I observe them teaching with Zoom or through recorded videos.
Listening to yourself teach – even just one class – can help you make adjustments to improve your teaching.
Zoom breakout rooms are a teaching tool being used more frequently as universities invest in the application and as instructors become more familiar in setting up and using the breakout rooms.
Having students work in breakout rooms can provide a change of pace in class and enable more students to engage actively in class.
As a member of the University of Florida’s Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee, I have observed graduate students utilizing Zoom breakout rooms in a wide range of subject areas. Whereas instructors typically only make brief visits to breakout rooms during class, I have been able to observe the full time students are in a breakout room.
Based on my observations, I’m offering a few suggestions for using Zoom breakout rooms.
Develop an effective breakout room assignment.
Creating a good breakout room assignment is like creating a good small group discussion activity for face-to-face classes. Consider what a small group discussion will accomplish in a more productive way than a full-class discussion.
What a time in higher education due to COVID-19. The spring semester with the dramatic shift to online classes has ended and virtual graduation ceremonies held. But what plans are being considered for the start of the school year next fall?
I asked Dr. David Bulla, professor and chair of the Department of Communications at Augusta University, to share his outlook from an administrator’s perspective. Bulla, a Civil War historian, taught at Iowa State University and Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates prior to joining the faculty at Augusta University.
by David W. Bulla
The first challenge is the novel coronavirus itself.
David Bulla at Augusta University
Once we return to face-to-face classes, how do we discourage students who exhibit virus symptoms not to attend class? How do we notify the classmates of students who have tested positive? We’re working on that policy right now.
We also have students working on the front lines—students who work in medical centers. After all, Augusta University is the home of the Medical College of Georgia, and quite a few health sciences students take media literacy and health communication classes that my department teaches, and all AU students have to take our public speaking class.
At the same time, while the novel coronavirus has come to dominate all of our waking thoughts and monopolizes the information coming to us from the news media, we really do not know that much about it.
In this time of unprecedented changes in higher education due to the Covid-19 pandemic, faculty, teaching assistants and adjuncts are scrambling to move their face-to-face classes to distance learning experiences.
Kevin Hull set up a small studio in a room in his house to record YouTube videos for his courses.
Prior to teaching at U of SC, Hull was a news reporter and sports reporter/sports anchor at WECT-TV in Wilmington, North Carolina, and a digital media teacher at Topsail High School in Hampstead, North Carolina.
Julie Dodd: How did you feel when you learned that you were going to be teaching your face-to-face class in a digital format?
Kevin Hull: My friend’s wife is in grad school at Boston University, and he said that she was told to be prepared for the class she was taking to be online after Spring Break. That was the first I had even thought of the possibility being a reality, but that turned out to be a big help as I started to mentally prepare myself that it might be coming for me, too. That got me starting to think about how I could alter assignments, how to do some lectures, and what would need dramatic changes. When the word came down at U of SC, I wasn’t caught completely flat-footed.
The end of a term is challenging for college students as they complete final projects and take exams.
These students were on the way to the PRSSA national convention. Being involved in a professionally focused student organization helps students learn more about the field and make contacts that can lead to internships and jobs.
But for many students, another big challenge comes after the term is completed and the grades are determined.
That’s when they go home and are asked by their parents, relatives and others who know them in the community: “What do you plan to do after you graduate?”
Students (even freshmen) often feel like they should know what their career goal is. But many aren’t sure or are hesitant to announce career goals in case all doesn’t go as planned.
I was reminded of students’ career concerns when I recently observed a graduate student teaching assistant who was teaching the last lab of the semester.
He ended class by asking how many students knew what their career goals were. About a third raised their hands…with a few more raising their hands, it seemed, as they thought they should know.