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The Postgraduate Student as TeacherTutor Demonstrator


... a TA is scary for shy people' 'I'm not shy and being a TA is ... Desire to share your love of the subject. Ability to: make subject stimulating and interesting ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Postgraduate Student as TeacherTutor Demonstrator

The Postgraduate Student as Teacher/Tutor/
  • Marian McCarthy, Ionad Bairre,
  • The Teaching and Learning Centre,
  • De Vere Hall 18-10-07

Ear to the Ground
  • Sometimes Ive wondered am I supposed to be a
    bridge between the department and the student, or
    am I supposed to be a screen so that the
    professor doesnt have to bother with student
  • Im always struggling to find a balance between
    authority and tyranny and to respect the
    motivations of individual students
  • Being a TA is scary for shy people
  • Im not shy and being a TA is still scary
  • Forget Red Bull Teaching gives you wings!

What is the most important lesson you have learnt
so far as tutor?
  • Be prepared
  • Mixture of abilities in class
  • Allow freedom to talk and ask questions
  • Find out what they know
  • Have patience
  • Give them time
  • Ask do you need help?
  • Use different ways of explaining
  • Dont overestimate
  • Make the students feel comfortable
  • Dont panic!
  • Respond to the needs of the group
  • Be flexible
  • Be inclusive
  • Dont be afraid to say I dont know

The qualities of good teachers
  • Think about good teachers who stand out for you
    from your own learning experience
  • What characteristics made them good?
  • How did they help you as the learner?
  • What lessons are there in this for you as a
    beginning teacher?
  • Write an inscription for your classroom!

The Skillful Teacher Stephen Brookfield (2006)
  • Skillful teaching is a highly variable process
    that changes depending on any number of
    contextual factors. What does remain constant is
    its three assumptions
  • Skillful teaching is whatever helps the students
  • Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective
    stance towards their practice
  • They need a constant awareness of how students
    are experiencing their learning and perceiving
    teachers actions

Understanding Our Classrooms Classroom Research
and Assessment
  • There are many strategies that we can use to
    gauge what and how students are learning
  • The One Minute Paper
  • The Muddiest Point
  • The Learning Audit
  • Student Learning Journals
  • The Critical Incident Questionnaire ..
  • And there is questioning and talking to students.
    Get to know your students!

Tom Angelos Teachers Dozen
  • Active Learning is more effective than passive
  • Learning requires focused attention and awareness
    of the importance of what is to be learned.
  • Learning is more effective when learners have
    explicit goals
  • New information must be meaningfully connected to
    prior knowledge
  • Unlearning what is already known is often more
    difficult than learning new info.
  • Info that is organised in personally meaningful
    ways is more likely to be retained, learned and
  • Learners need feedback on their learning early
    and often

Angelos Principles about how students learn
  • The ways in which learners are assessed
    powerfully affects the way they study and learn
  • Mastering a skill or body of knowledge takes time
    and effort
  • applying knowledge and skills to new contexts
    needs practice
  • High expectations encourage high achievement
  • To be effective, teachers need to balance levels
    of intellectual challenge and instructional
  • Motivation is alterable
  • Interactionlearning

A Teaching for Understanding exercise
  • What do you understand really well?
  • How did you develop that understanding?
  • How do you know you understand it?
  • What key lessons do you take from this about
  • What are the implications of this exercise for
    your teaching and student learning?

Multiple Intelligences Theory (Gardner 1983/99)
  • Linguistic
  • Logical/Mathematical
  • Visual Spatial
  • Musical
  • Bodily Kinaesthetic
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Naturalist

The Tutorial or Seminar (Fry et al, 1999)
  • Academic tutorials are used to
  • further discussion
  • clarify and take remedial action
  • To explore problems, questions and the
    application of information
  • to integrate theory and practice
  • to have student led debate and presentation
  • feedback from and to students
  • feedback on progress to staff

Helping Students to make the most of tutorials
(Race Brown, 2005)
  • Help them see the purpose of tutorials
  • Avoid temptation to to elaborate on lectures
  • Have a definite purpose for each tutorial
  • Let students know the agenda
  • Encourage students to sort out what they dont
  • Get feedback
  • Help them work together
  • Capture their learning
  • Bridge the gap re the programme

Laboratory or Practical class (Fry, et al., l999)
  • training in techniques
  • learning the ideas of the subject
  • learning how to carry out experimental inquiries
  • Remember - you are the role model as demonstrator
  • Before classcareful planning and organisation
  • During class purpose of this series? Is it a
    controlled exercise, an experimental
    investigation, a mini- research project?

Demonstrators (continued)
  • The two main responsibilities after the practical
    work are to assess student work and to evaluate
    the teaching session.
  • How do you know as demonstrator that you have
    done a good job?
  • Demonstrators are now considered to be an
    integral part of the teaching team and lecturers
    have high expectations of the quality of their
    contribution to student learning.

Assessment as a process with students at centre
  • The word assessment comes from the Latin
    assidere to sit...assessment truly does require
    sitting beside a student to look at the work. the classroom the teacher and student are
    potentially on equal footing. It is both a
    relationship and a process that includes looking
    (at what students do) listening (to what students
    say) and puzzling (to figure out learning) Harris
    Stefanakis (1995) The Power in Portfolios A way
    of sitting beside each learner p.3

  • Valuable feedback comes from many different
    people teachers, peers, outside experts and
    students self-reflections and evaluations.
    Assessments can be formal and planned, such as
    those related to exhibitions and presentations,
    or they may be casual and spontaneous, as when
    students make connections in discussions

Practising on-going assessment
  • Make time for Reflection Do students have the
    time to make connections. Do I build reflection
    into teaching routine?
  • As for regular reflection/feedback
  • Establish criteria What am I comparing the work
    to? How clear are criteria for students?
  • Develop criteria with students

Some Myths re Teaching in Higher Education
  • Effective teaching is indeterminate, indefinable,
    since learning is the students responsibility.
  • Teaching is not important, since much learning
    takes place apart from lectures
  • Learning is what students do, its relation to
    teaching is unproblematic
  • Bad teachers are better-students learn for

Myths -contd.
  • Misconception re teaching it consists in
    presenting or transmitting information from
    teacher to student or demonstrating the
    application of a skill in practice
  • 3rd level students should not be too closely
    supervised -they become dependent learners
  • Learning is separate from teaching-lecturer
    cant be blamed!

What Teachers would rather not know
  • While teachers are lecturing, students are not
    attending to what is being said 40 of the time
  • In the first ten minutes students retain 70 of
    information, in last 10 mins-20
  • Student attention levels drop as lecture proceeds

Good teaching (perspective of lecturer)
  • Desire to share your love of the subject
  • Ability to make subject stimulating and
  • Engage with students at their level
  • Explain material plainly
  • Make clear what has to be understood
  • Show concern and respect for students
  • Encourage student independence
  • (Ramsden, 1999, Chap. 6)

Good Teaching ( lecturers perspective)
  • Use teaching methods and academic tasks that
    require students to learn actively, responsibly
    and cooperatively
  • use valid assessment methods
  • Focus on key concepts and students
    misunderstanding of them, rather than covering
    the ground
  • Give quality feedback
  • Learn from students/ other sources about the
    effect of teaching and how it can be improved

The good lecturer(Students perspective)
  • Is Organised
  • stimulates interest
  • gives understandable explanations
  • empathises with students needs
  • gives feedback on work
  • sets clear goals
  • Encourages independent thought
  • (Students can distinguish between good and
    popular lecturers. Therefore lecturers
    personality and humour are not top of the list)
    (Ramsden, 1992/99)

Scholars and Teachers
  • We need our best scholars to be our teachers ,
    and we need them to give the same creative energy
    to teaching as they give to scholarship. We need
    to identify, support, and reward those who teach
    superbly. There is no antithesis between
    teaching and research. Great teaching can in
    fact be a form of synthesis and scholarship.
    (Frank Rhodes The University and its Critics in
    W.G. Bowen and H.T. Shapiro (Eds) Universities
    and Their Leadership Princeton, 1998)