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ECE

TA Training & Development

The ECE TA Training and Development Program is an initiative that reflects the longstanding tradition of strong peer mentoring in the department. The program is led by a select cohort of TATD Fellows who lead teaching workshops and serve as a mentoring resource for ECE Teaching Assistants.

Requirements for ECE TAs:

ECE TAs are encouraged to contact their TATD Fellow Mentor throughout the semester with any questions or TA concerns. TAs are required to meet with mentors at a mid-semester check-in.

All ECE TAs are required to attend two workshops in the Spring semester.

Past Workshops

Tuesday, February 18: "TAing a Course for the Second or Third Time"
9:30 am, AV Williams 2328 AVW
Facilitated by Bhaskar Ramasubramanian

In this department, it is not uncommon for a TA to be assigned to a particular course more than once. This workshop will try to address potential advantages and disadvantages of being in such a situation. Participating TAs will be asked to share their views on the topic with the aim of making the session as interactive as possible.

Wednesday, February 26: "How to Teach: Preparing For Your Discussion Sections As If They Were a Job Interview"
12:30 pm, AV Williams 2328
Facilitated by Sohil Shah

Weekly meetings with course instructors ensure that GTAs know what to teach, but rarely is HOW to teach is discussed. Further, most GTAs are given the wide discretion in problem selection and problem solving techniques. How then can a GTA prepare for the discussion session? In this workshop, we will liken preparing for the discussion session with preparing for a job interview. We will share different methodologies one can employ to develop an equivalent skillset for delivering a productive discussion session.

Tuesday, March 4: "Preparing for Discussion: What to Present and How to Present It"
11:00 am, AV Williams 2168
Facilitated by Jeff Casarona and Caleb Serafy

Presenting a lesson for a discussion session can be a daunting task for a TA. In this talk, the presenters will split the discussion session into two sections: what material should be included, and how that material should be presented. We will outline important details including tips, feedback, and experiences from our perspectives for both sections of the talk to help the TA understand what to focus on in preparation for these discussion sections.

Wednesday, March 12: "Discussion Sections FAQ"
9:30 am, AV Williams 2460
Facilitated by Adi Hajj-Ahmad

How can we deal with a student who is holding the class back? How do we decide on the level of difficulty of the problems we solve in our sessions? How can we get students to interact more in class? These are some of the questions that we encounter while we lead discussion sessions as TAs. In this workshop, we will discuss these and other questions, and share insights into how we can improve the discussion sessions that we give, and how to make the best of the time we put into our TA work.

Thursday, March 27: "The TA-Student Relationship"
11:00 am, AV Williams 2328
Facilitated by Guannan Liu and Long Nguyen

Teaching assistants sometimes find that their relationships with students are complicated. Conversation topics occasionally develop beyond the boundary of the classroom and the course syllabus. In this workshop we will explore various scenarios that may occur as part of the TA-Student relationship. We will also discuss appropriate, professional solutions and responses to these scenarios.

Tuesday, April 8: "Student Dishonesty and the Honor Code"
5:30 pm, AV Williams 2328
Facilitated by Abbas Kazemipour

"Academic dishonesty is one of the main challenges in almost all universities. If not prevented, it can be very destructive for learning purposes. In this workshop, we will talk about the honor code and other resources the university provides to prevent cheating. We will also talk about possible forms of cheating on exams and assignments as well as discuss how we can detect or prevent them without damaging the TA's reputation."

Monday, April 14: "What Students Want From Office Hours"
9:30 am, AV Williams 2460
Facilitated by Andrew Berkovich

Office hours are an invaluable opportunity for teaching assistants (TA) to build beneficial and productive relationships with their students. These relationships are proven to promote student learning and increase the chances of student success in the classroom. However, getting students to attend office hours can be one of the greatest challenges that TAs face. In this workshop we will discuss what students want and expect from office hours, how to increase attendance in office hours, and how to get the most out of your office hours.

Tuesday, April 22: "How to Organize a Recitation that Elicits Creative Thinking"
11:00 am, AV Williams 2460
Facilitated by Zhung-Han Wu and Devanarayanan Ettisserry

Recitation plays an important role in the overall cycle of teaching. During recitation, students can review the ideas in the lecture and get the hands-on feel of solving problems to clear up their questions. However, recitation may easily become dull if it just performs problem solving. This not only deters the attendance of the students and contradicts the original goals of holding recitation sessions. In this workshop, we will discuss different ways to organize the recitation in a lively way and provoke divergent thinking on the subject.

Thursday, May 1: "Mean What You Teach: Communicating Effectively and Adaptively"
11:00 am, AV Williams 2460
Facilitated by Shuoxin Lin and Ren Mao

For many teaching assistants, communicating effectively with the students in the limited time of class and office hour is critical to a comfortable and productive learning environment. Students are a highly heterogeneous group with different learning habits and traits. In this workshop, we will discuss how to communicate with the students about in-class materials effectively and adaptively. We will look at the different learning style of the students, and provide useful approaches, both in general and case-specific, to communicate with students in a learning environment. We will also demonstrate our points by having an interactive game with the audience.


Fall 2013

Tuesday, September 10: "Effectively Conveying Information to Students"
Facilitated by Shuoxin Lin

Teaching assistants (TA) play a leading role in communication with the students. Through interaction with the students in class, the TA’s goal is to elaborate the students’ understanding of the course subject. This goal is achieved only when the TA succeeds in conveying his/her knowledge effectively within the limited amount of time. To improve the effectiveness of in-class teaching, the TA should pay attention in their language, structure of the material and feedback from students.

In this workshop, we will discuss some practice that improves the in-class communication between students and  TA. We will focus on what techniques the TA can use to explain ideas, and how to use these techniques. It will also cover some information about material preparation and handout.

Wednesday, September 18: "How to Give Good Lectures"
Facilitated by Caleb Serafy

The average undergraduate student understands 20-40% of the material presented in a lecture. Without reviewing, only 10% is retained after 3 weeks. As instructors, our job is to increase these numbers to the best of our ability, and try to make sure that the materials that are retained are the most important parts. Research has shown that the process of learning takes place in three phases: (1) deciding what to pay attention to, (2) organizing the material into a coherent mental structure (comprehension) and (3) integrating the new material with current knowledge. 

In this discussion we will talk about ways to optimize these three stages. A series of questions will be posed to the audience and discussed all together. The presenter will give his opinions on good practices and offer feedback on audience members' responses.

Thursday, September 26: "Organizing the Recitation"
Facilitated by Zhung-Han Wu

Each week's one hour recitation is a student's opportunity to wrap-up topics covered in the class. The recitation also serves as the student's very first experience to apply concepts learned in class to real problems. This workshop will serve as an open space for TAs to share experiences in recitation and facilitate the teaching in recitation.

Monday, September 30: "What Students Want From Office Hours"
Facilitated by Andrew Berkovich

Office hours are an invaluable opportunity for teaching assistants (TA) to build meaningful and productive relationships with their students. These relationships are proven to promote student learning and increase the chances of student success in a class. However, getting students to attend office hours can be one of the greatest challenges that TAs face. In this workshop we will discuss what students want and expect from office hours, how to increase attendance in office hours, and how to get the most out of your office hours. 
 

Tuesday, October 8: "Successful Discussion Sections (With a Focus on Derivation-Intensive Theoretical Courses)"
Facilitated by Devanarayanan Ettiserry

Handling theoretical courses presents some unique challenges, especially to new TAs. First, TAs should get students interested in discussions/office hours involving derivations, proofs and math. Students should also be encouraged to apply theory to solve practical problems. Moreover, grading should factor in aspects like the students' thought process and its clarity, creativity and understanding, among other things. In this workshop, we will focus on discussion and grading, especially of courses involving a lot of math.
 
Wednesday, October 16: "The TA / Instructor Relationship"
Facilitated by Long Nguyen
 
A Teaching Assistant's duty is usually associated with the TA-student relationship. While it is indeed true that TAs hold a lot of responsibility regarding students, it is often the TA-instructor relationship that proves to be the most stressful part of the position. The purpose of this workshop is to facilitate an open and confidential discussion that explores various aspects of the TA-instructor relationship as well as how to balance or relieve the stress it may cause. New TAs will learn about the types of stress they may encounter while experienced TAs can share what has or has not worked for them when attempting to improve this important relationship and relieve the stress associated with it.
 
Wednesday October 23: "How to Teach: Preparing for Your Discussion Sections as if They Were a Job Interview"
Facilitated by Sohil Shah
 
Weekly meetings with course instructors ensure that GTAs know what to teach, but rarely is HOW to teach is discussed. Further, most GTAs are given the wide discretion in problem selection and problem solving techniques. How then can a GTA prepare for the discussion session? In this workshop, we will liken preparing for the discussion session with preparing for a job interview. We will share different methodologies one can employ to develop an equivalent skillset for delivering a productive discussion session.
 
Tuesday, October 29: "Teaching Students According to Their Individuality"
Facilitated by Ren Mao

Different students have different backgrounds, objectives, and aptitudes for studying the course material. A good way for a TA to guide students learning is teaching students in accordance with their individuality, especially when you are answering individual student questions in office hours or lab session. In this workshop, we will discuss how to observe and analyze the characteristics of students’ learning, how to match students’ learning style, and how to guide students to find their learning strategies.

Monday, November 4: "Discussion Sections FAQ"
Facilitated by Adi Hajj-Ahmad

How can we deal with a student who is holding the class back? How do we decide on the level of difficulty of the problems we solve in our sessions? How can we get students to interact more in class? These are some of the questions that we encounter while we lead discussion sessions as TAs. In this workshop, we will discuss these and other questions, and share insights into how we can improve the discussion sessions that we give, and how to make the best of the time we put into our TA work.

Tuesday, November 12: "TAing a Course for the Second/Third Time"
Facilitated by Bhaskar Ramasubramanian
 
In this department, it is not uncommon for a TA to be assigned to a particular course more than once. This workshop will try to address potential advantages and disadvantages of being in such a situation. Participating TAs will be asked to share their views on the topic with the aim of making the session as interactive as possible. The workshop will also be particularly relevant to TAs who will be filling in their TA preferences of courses for the Spring semester.
 
Monday, November 18: "Student Dishonesty and the Honor Code"
Facilitated by Abbas Kazemipour
 
Academic dishonesty is one of the main challenges in almost all universities. If not prevented, it can be very destructive for learning purposes. In this presentation we plan to talk about the resources university provides for preventing cheating, talk about possible forms of cheating on exams and assignments and try to discuss how we can detect or prevent them.
 
Thursday, December 5: "Grading"
Facilitated by Guannan Liu
 
It is almost end of this semester and you probably received your last homework waiting to be graded. Grading homework, quizzes, exams as well as lab reports is part of a TA’s duty. Maintaining a consistent rubric, being fair and responsible to all students is important throughout yours TA tenure. It keeps you away from students frequently come to you afterwards complaining unfairness and asking for partial credits.  During the workshop, we will discuss the method of “Pre-grading, Grading and Re-grading”, then some of common issues you might face while grading will be covered. Move over, some “Judgment Call” situations will be presented for the group discussions.  In the end, you will be asked to practice grading former students’ homework as a simple case study.