More than 350 teaching assistants attend the annual orientation for teaching assistants at the University of Florida. I took this photo from the back of Carleton Auditorium before my session in 2015.
by Julie Dodd
New teaching assistants at the University of Florida will attend an Orientation for Graduate Teaching Assistants on Tuesday, Aug. 18, to help them be ready for the start of Fall Semester on Monday, Aug. 22.
I’ll be one of the speakers on the day-long program, which will be held in Carleton Auditorium.
My session is “Your Syllabus and the First Week of Class.” That broad topic lets me talk about many important aspects of a successful start of the semester — from incorporating active learning activities in class to being sure to have an umbrella.
I’ll post the handout and slides from the presentation.
The orientation is hosted by the UF Graduate School and the UF Teaching Center.
Think-pair-share is one of the strategies to lead to an active class discussion.
As a member of the University of Florida’s Graduate Student Teaching Awards Committee, I have the opportunity to observe teaching assistants in a variety of different subject areas — from entomology to criminology. An important element of many of these classes is class discussion.
I’ve found that even though the class size may be under 30 and the topic interesting, not every teaching assistant has structured their approach to discussion to get the class involved. I’m reposting Minch Minchin’s helpful specific strategies to promote effective discussion. – Julie Dodd
by Minch Minchin
Ph.D and J.D. student, University of Florida
Class discussions as a pedagogical tool are as old as teaching, itself.
Yet despite discussion’s rich and ancient lineage, some teachers may be wary of promoting discussions in their classrooms. Such fears are not without merit, as there are practical limitations to discussions as well as the potential for things simply to go wrong:
- Students may not be prepared and have nothing to say (and silence is often perceived as awkward).
- If students do all the talking, the teacher may not be able to cover the requisite material.
- Students may ask questions for which the teacher is unprepared or doesn’t know the answer to.
- The discussion may become controversial, off topic or out of hand.
by Margaret Gaylord
Master’s Student, University of Florida
Academic dishonesty has reached epidemic proportions, starting as early as middle school. Cheating is a complicated problem, not just explained away by a lazy student. The good news is that educators can be a critical part of education and prevention for their students on this subject.
Honors students, weak students, low GPA students, high GPA students, students of color, students who are white, middle class students. In a phrase, all types of students.
We have seen evidence of cheating in places we would not expect: Harvard and the Air Force Academy, to name two. The point is, there is no typical student that can be identified as a chronic cheater. More effectively, instructors can find ways to reduce the incidence of cheating through practical changes in their own classrooms.
by Amanda Kastrinos
Master’s student, University of Florida
The goal of any successful instructor is to teach the course in a way all students will understand. But how can college teachers plan instruction for students with special needs, specifically students with learning disabilities?
With the passage of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Americans with Disabilities Act, teachers are required to make necessary accommodations to any student with a learning disability.
As the law states, “No otherwise qualified person with a disability shall, solely by reason of his/her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of a public entity” (Section 504).
Some of these accommodations could include providing a note-taker, preferential seating, additional time on tests and assignments, providing copies of lesson plans and assignments, or allowing video or audio recording of lectures.
by Cindy Spence
Master’s student, University of Florida
Intuitively, learning styles theory makes sense. Many of us have an orientation toward a certain kind of stimulus: visual, aural, kinesthetic. And many of us believe we learn better if a lesson caters to our orientation.
The evidence, however, says our intuition is wrong.
University of Virginia psychology Professor Daniel Willingham, who studies the role of cognitive psychology in kindergarten through university education, says the evidence for learning styles just does not exist. Learning styles, he says, are one of those things people think they have figured out. They believe science has settled the issue, in favor of learning styles, when very little research has been done at all.
by Kendra Auguste
Ph.D. student, University of Florida
Culturally diverse students face additional challenges associated with adjusting to an unfamiliar or predominately white culture. As a result, educational attainment at the collegiate level remains an issue for minority students.
Contributing stressors include:
The imposter syndrome: Students may feel like they aren’t smart enough and question if they belong on a college campus. “Surely the admissions committee made a mistake!” They may struggle with meeting some performance measure or find difficulty fitting in.
First-generation condition: Those students who are the first in their families to attend college may lack family support and find difficulty adjusting to a culture different from their own.
by Daniel Pimentel
Ph.D student, University of Florida
The Parable of Stones: Communicating the Benefits of Group Projects
Often considered the holy grail of technology companies, Apple Inc. represents a diverse and interdisciplinary team of professionals. From packaging design specialists to software engineers, the team at Apple is what many would call the ultimate group project based on its roots in a California garage in 1976.
Nearly two decades after his small project revolutionized the way humanity communicated, Apple’s founder and icon, Steve Jobs, spoke on a childhood experience and the importance of teamwork. He described how as a child an elderly man on his block invited him to view his collection of rocks. The man was rugged and aged, and Jobs wondered what value these rocks provided for the man. Placing them in a motorized container filled with liquid and grit powder, the man turned on the machine causing a chorus of clanks and swashes. He invited Jobs back the following morning.