Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Teaching Seminar

I just took my second grad student teaching seminar from the Eberly Teaching Center.
Unlike my education courses I took as an education major in undergrad, these seem to be useful. Today's was on Teaching Perspectives. There were five main perspectives presented:

Transmission: "Teacher pitches content to students."
Apprenticeship: "Teacher, who is knowledgeable about the content, can serve as a model / guide students"
Developmental: "Students learn by interacting with content."
Nurturing: "Encourage learning by forging relationship between student and teacher."
Social Reform: "Focus on ideals, everything else is bonus.

We took a Seventeen-magazine-style questionnaire that showed how we "scored" on each perspective with respect to our beliefs, actions, and intentions. I scored high on the first three, and low on the second two, while I would have expected myself to score lower on transmission and apprenticeship than I did.

However, I think the perspective depends on the class. I'm currently TAing for an undergrad/Master's level course in Machine Learning. While I think that social reform and emotional growth are important for young adults, I don't think that's my job. These students are paying a ton of tuition money, and here they're paying to be taught about machine learning. I'm much better equipped to give them their tuition's worth in cold, hard knowledge than in a great teacher-student relationship. They're perfectly capable of getting qualitative ideas from their philosophy courses and extracurriculars, and their nurturing from their friends and other relationships. However, if I were teaching, say, a course on statistical bullshit detection, I'd have a high priority on social reform, and if I were teaching a freshman class on literature or composition, I might want to incorporate more nurturing into the class.

Anyway, it's at least something to think about while I'm teaching. And I'll probably go to more of these seminars.

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