Graduate Students’ Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills

Feldon, David F., James Peugh, Briana E. Timmerman, Michelle A. Maher, Melissa Hurst, Denise Strickland, Joanna A. Gilmore, and Cindy Stiegelmeyer. “Graduate Students’ Teaching Experiences Improve Their Methodological Research Skills.” Science 333, no. 6045 (2011): 1037–39.

I was meeting with Colleen Kuusinen, a new member of our Center for Teaching and Learning on a new project I am pursing as an Honors Thesis mentor. During our conversation, she mentioned this paper from 2011 which indicates that teaching experiences are beneficial to developing graduate students’ research skills. In this paper 95 graduate students’ research proposals were graded in accordance with a peer-reviewed “‘universal’ rubric for assessing undergraduates’ scientific reasoning skills using scientific writing” from B. Timmerman et al., Assess. Eval. High. Educ. 36, 509 (2011). The results were quite impressive as shown in the figures below. I think that these results only further the importance of developing good TA training.

The machinery of very large courses

Well, a new semester has begun. Once again, my Physics 132 course is remote. Due to the unique challenges of this pandemic and remote learning, I am also completely in charge of the lab portion of the course for the first time this semester. This added responsibility, 14 lab sections and 11 TAs, plus my efforts to make the course as flexible as possible in response to the pandemic really has me reflecting on the machinery of very large courses.

This first week-and-a-half has been all about getting things moving. There really are so many pieces: the zoom schedule, the forum, the recordings, the lab manual, the homework, the TA schedule, the TA help sessions, getting all the TAs knowing what they need to do, then helping the 600 students understand it all! It really is like running a small company.

Personnel management should be a required thing for all graduate students.

Fishbone Root Cause Analysis Protocol

This document from the Minnesota Department of Education describes this interesting protocol which describes a procedure for really determining the fundamental causes of a problem (such as student struggle) under the assumption that treating the cause (as best as possible) is more effective than treating just the symptoms. The basic idea is to work to you find a “significant cause that can, in fact, be changed.”

I find this to be an interesting perspective to share when we consider the myriad of unique challenges that our students are facing during this time of COVID-19.

Reflecting on Remote Physics 132

I know the blog has been quiet lately. Like so many others, I have been learning how to juggle everything in this new reality. What time I have found to share with others online has been spent on the page of remote teaching resources I have been curating.

Well, now the semester has finished and I am doing my usual reflecting on how it went and what I can do better for the next round of remote learning in the Spring 2021 semester. A lot happened, so the thoughts are long, but here they are.

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