Evaluating participation

Students in discussion at desks

Image by lynn dombrowski; Used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Evaluating student participation in tutorials or seminars can be a challenge for everyone from first time TAs to experienced instructors.

Recently, I came across an interesting suggestion posted on the Student Participation/Active Learning page on the website of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.  They offer the suggestion of providing students with the opportunity to assess themselves part-way through the term and receive feedback.  The blockquote below shows the choices that the University of the Sciences suggest for students to engage with for self-assessment:

  1. I contribute worthwhile comments several times during every class. Please cite an example
  2. I contribute one or more worthwhile comments almost every class. Please cite and example
  3. I often contribute or participate in class discussions. Please cite an example
  4. I occasionally contribute
  5. I rarely contribute

TED talks and teaching

My Favorite TED Talk

Image of Bonnie Bassler’s TED Talk by jurvetson at flickr.com Creative Commons License

Today, the Toronto TEDx event is happening in Toronto.

What are TED Talks you ask? According to the TED talks website:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design

As a TA and course instructor, I am very grateful these events happen. TED Talks and the associated, local community organized talks (called TEDx Talks), provide an archive of inspiring video materials that may be appropriate for classroom use. Personally, I’ve seen videos with subject matter ranging from nanotechnology to global politics!

In a 4th year course I’ve taught called Integrative Design Project, in the The Institute of Communication, Culture and Information Technology (ICCIT) at the Mississauga campus, I have frequently paired a reading by Hans Rosling with his TED talk video which “shows the best stats you’ve ever seen”. It is an interesting entry point for students to think about statistics and data visualization in their design practice.

You can tune into TEDx Toronto tedxtoronto.com

And now I must ask, does anyone else use TED talks in their teaching? Please let me know in the comments.

TA Day 2011

TA Day 2011 was held on Sept. 1st. It was the perfect way to kickoff the month of September and the back to school season at U of T.

As a trainer with the TATP, I find that TA day is an interesting opportunity to meet returning and new TAs. While TAs are often very excited about the upcoming semester, they always have a lot on the go in the month of September. Many TA day attendees are new to the U of T and they can be settling into a new department, new city, or even be new to Canada. Luckily, TA day is a good place to gather teaching tips and also to find out informally about important stuff like the student housing service or TIFF.

This year the programming for TA day featured an array of presentations and workshops for both first-time and experienced TAs. A keynote address was provided by Prof. Mark Kingwell, from Philosophy on the topic of How To Be A Great TA Without Losing Your Mind, Your Soul, or Your Lunch. Presentations were also made by award winning TAs from U of T, and Dr. Tanya Lewis, Director of Academic Success and Accessibility Services, CUPE 3902 and CTSI staff. Throughout the day, new TAs discussed issues like ‘the first class’ and ‘grading.’ Returning and experienced TAs had the opportunity consider new challenges like designing their own courses.

If you attended (or wish you attended) TA day, we hope to see you out at the fall workshop series.