Reading Room 11/13: Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers-The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Journal: The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Heading into graduate school, the goal should be becoming an effective college professor and make sure you are adequately prepared for each class.  This is exactly what the article entails here and systematically goes through step by step.  In the article “Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers” by Ronald J. Weber, Ann Gabbert, Joanne Kropp, and Patrick Pynes, this group of researchers demonstrate their learning experiences with being a History Professor.

The alterations are being put in place when it comes to helping graduate students become college professors.  Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes compiled a bunch of stories on their journey into teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso.  All of this became beneficial because this study is being done on the History Teaching and Learning Seminar in the History Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at El Paso.  The research being made in this article looked at the teamwork with graduate students and how they found great teaching tools.  With this process, the graduate students (who participated) found out that being a listener is monumental in teaching, effectiveness outweighs the idea of finding new teaching skills, and that the system for teaching college teachers needs so much work in which sets up student academics to be a teacher.  The researchers primarily worked with Scholarship, which was extremely crucial in this process because it made sure these students moved up with the material.  For example, the researchers said this about teaching, “Teaching was broadly conceived as the dissemination of content knowledge to students” (Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Professors are not supposed to know everything when it comes to their field of study.  In fact, they are just as much of a student of education as undergraduate students.

This seminar gave students different aspects which helps practice becoming a teacher and blend the dynamics of teaching and scholarship as well.  However, what the problem is that graduate students try to imitate their professors from the past and blend their teaching methods as well.  This is very concerning because the graduate students ignore the current undergraduate students’ routines to learn.

What the researchers did in this study is that they asked all of the graduate students in the course to gather a portfolio in relation to academia.  In other words, they would include their method of researching and what their goals are in teaching.  To have a comparative look at teaching vs learning, these graduate students have only just begun thinking about how a student improves.

What the researchers found is that the graduate students adapted effectively as they shape who they are as a person.  For example, the researchers commented on the seminar’s goals even further, “In addition to treating young academics as students, the seminar also leads them to think and act as teachers by planning and organizing a college class”(Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Graduate students should look at young students as human beings in education because it removes this dehumanizing notion of becoming a college professor.  The relationship between a student and teacher needs to have clarity and more importantly, these graduate students in training should be organized with their field of study.

I found this article to be very helpful as a first-year graduate student in English Literature/Creative Writing because I am taking a seminar class on something similar to the study. The class is called the teaching practicum in Creative Writing.  In this class, we voice our concerns as a graduate instructional assistant and provide ample case studies.  Within these narratives, it sets us up to become future professors at the college level.  However, after reading this article, my anxiety level as a graduate student decreases a bit.  I know many of my peers in that class have been nervous about giving a lecture for the first time and sometimes they are critical after the presentation.  But what this article taught me is that you need to know the culture of the classroom.  It is so imperative to ensure your teaching philosophy is consistent throughout your career.  In the end, it is all about practicing and training graduate students to be the future college professors of the 21st century.

This article gives me a new outlook on how I want to conduct my last case study for the semester in my practicum class.  I need to think of this question: do I truly understand the class?  Do I understand them and can relate to them as a student teacher when we do group work?  It is something I need to explore deeper and further as I transition into my second semester.

The WasteLand discussion-10/30/18

Tuesday’s discussion on how to teach T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” made me think of how hard it is to teach a poem of that magnitude and the planning that needs to be done.  In other words, it made me think of how context is so crucial with this poem and how that comes into play.  When I first read the poem in Professor Hanley’s English 528 class about a year and a half ago, I didn’t realize how complexed this poem is with students until we really came up with ideas yesterday on how to make sure the students understood it.  For example, I remember coming up with some visual annotations for the poem and going further into the symbolism with each section.  However, this was such a good idea to come up with fresh new lessons to look towards authentic learning with the students.

One thing that I really thought was extremely resourceful was Veronica’s idea of looking at the pre-war/post-war connections to “The Wasteland.”  I would have never thought of that.  It made me think in the class of the literature that could be compared/contrasted to the poem.  For example, even though this is not an American novel, but what if the students read excerpts of All Quiet on The Western Front and contrasted it with the poem?  To me, I think of “The Wasteland” as this pre-war struggle in the world and All Quiet on The Western Front as this post-war struggle.  However, both of them discuss this sort of fear occurring in the world.  That is the connecting theme that could be looked at when teaching “The WasteLand.”

I really thought it was interesting when Professor Hanley simply explained that poems are transactions.  Poems exchange ideas throughout the whole piece and present fragmented ideas.  When we use dialogue in our daily lives, we blurt out fragmented phrases and rarely do we have precise sentences in our verbal language.  In other words, poems reflect the language in which we have learned ever since we were born.

I think this discussion taught me ways to formally come up with a lesson plan for “The Wasteland” because it teaches us grad students to look beyond just coming up with our own assignments and look deeply how we can benefit the undergraduate students in literature.  In fact, this will help me when I take the teaching creative writing course this spring because one of the main projects in that class is to formulate a syllabus.  It stood out to me when someone brought up the syllabus being your thesis for the class.  To me, that is so significant because of the texts being discussed in class reflect your teaching philosophy.  I loved going back to the “Conversations with Text” article because it helped me with how much it is crucial for students to think about the poem and how it makes them feel.  This is something I would want to implement when I get a chance to teach this poem.  I truly wish our graduate seminars included more of this because it gets us thinking about how to really authentically teach these texts and make them learn/unlearn the poem.  We need more student input on how to teach challenging texts like “The Wasteland.”

Reading Room 10/16- Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?

Journal:  The Journal of Effective Teaching

Feedback is extremely crucial in the writing process and all writers need noted elements to improve on.  However, there are often times where people may not give the best feedback and it doesn’t constructively respond to authentic learning.  In the Journal of Effective Teaching article “Student-teachers Across the Curriculum Learn to Write Feedback Does it reflect on their writing?” by Esther Cohen-Sayag, Cohen-Sayag focuses on feedback on quality writing (more than themes and language aspect of writing).  Feedback is very crucial for teachers in their classrooms.  But do many teachers truly practice accurate methods to give/receive feedback?  Cohen-Sayag looks beyond the English teachers in this study and based off of other subjects.  Sayag gives an overview of this study by looking over how feedback changes with writing competency.

Writing down feedback is one of the ways a teacher-student relationship creates a conversation with their work.   In other words, the teacher may give quality notes on how the student could improve their writing or possibly the teacher will give questions for the student to think about on this assignment.  Feedback enables the students to have a chance to put more effort into their work and truly dive into the material.  What seems to be the challenge with receiving feedback on writing is that students want to appease their teacher and not writing based on authentic learning.  The intentions are not clear for students that feedback should be a consistent conversation between a teacher and student to express the writing.

In this article, Cohen-Sayag delves into the complexities with feedback, “The complexity of feedback writing depends on the context of the writing circumstances, teachers’ perceptions and goals and on the writing assignment” (Cohen-Sayag, 6).  The teacher’s goals on this writing assignment shouldn’t be highlighted during the feedback process.  If the goals truly do not match the feedback given by the teacher, the student is not authentically learning.  However, this is where Formative feedback comes in handy for students.  Formative Feedback relies solely on looking at the goals they want with their writing and how could they project their writing to the readers.  They would need to forget about on all the spelling mistakes and everything relating to syntax as well.

The resulting effects of feedback from the teacher in this study found behaviors and methods was very crucial for these student writers.  Second language writers felt feedback on condensed writing qualities was more helpful than non-condensed notes on their writing.  Second language writers found it extremely challenging to find those spelling/grammar mistakes and that their feedback had to be directed at their writing.

Other problems with writing feedback can cause so many challenges for teachers.  This one has to do with teachers look at specific lines they point out in an assignment and ignore the importance of comprehending the writing process each student uses.  The other one has to do with a teacher being extremely critical and do not give too much positive feedback on their writing.  Lastly, teachers are too bogged down on the technicalities of writing and completely disregard the ideas included in the assignment.

The course for teachers to practice accurate feedback and make sure they are ready to give notes for their future teachers.  The feedback should give the teachers to look back at their writing themselves.  However, it gets very tricky when it is strongly stressed this process is very formal.  The teachers should authenticate their learning by giving feedback in order to read the children writing.  All of this will be based on the child’s point of view in the writing.  The teachers need to read the writing aloud the written text with their colleagues so that accurate discussion is met in this course.

I found this article to be relative to my experience as a graduate instructional assistant in the creative writing program because it helps pose questions for me when I give feedback.  I have had creative writing professors tell me to always give positive notes and where they could expand in regards to craft.  However, in my practicum seminar, I hear my peers tell me it is challenging to continue to praise the students’ work all the time because not every paper they turn in will be great the majority of the time. In addition to that, I have to continue to stop myself from giving them formal notes on their writing and look more at their ideas.  How could their ideas be improved on by using craft elements?  To me, that is authentic learning inside the classroom because as an instructor, you are interested in their ideas.  We are taught by our former instructors/teachers that we have had in the past to put emphasis on grammar.  Correct grammar and spelling should be crucial for a student because you do want the writing to follow, but are we too engrossed in that aspect?  Shouldn’t we be fixated on their concepts that work with their writing?  That is something that I learned with this article.  It is something I need to continue to work on as a graduate instructional assistant.

Decoding Deviance

Some Television shows can be used as pedagogical teaching methods for a certain course in literature.  In the article “Decoding Deviance with The Sons Of Anarchy” by Joseph Kremer and Kristin Cutler from Washington State University, the authors delve into the sociological theories found in the TV show Sons of Anarchy. Sons of Anarchy is a television show based on the fictional depiction of a 1 percent motorcycle club set in Northern California (real-life motorcycle  clubs like the Mongols or the Hells Angels come to mind).  In fact, some of the cast members are actual Hells Angels members in the show.  This storyline puts Sociological Deviance to the test and how it can be coded with each episode. For example, the authors of this article define Deviance like this, “Deviance encompasses criminal acts but also a variety of things that might be considered amoral (e.g.,pre-marital sex, abortion) or just rub people the wrong way (e.g., people chewing with their mouths open, people wearing sandals with socks)” (Kremer and Cutler, 92).  Now that could be the closest to defining concepts of deviance in Sons of Anarchy academically.  These ideas correlate to deviance and how to rate deviance with some characters from the show.  The article goes into further detail with the method being presented in this study.  A Sociology of Deviance course at a University in the Pacific Northwest was being held during the summer, with the Sons of Anarchy as being the main source material during the entire semester.  The students in the course were in charge of coding each episode, focus on all the categories related to deviance, and were required to read specific practical articles on 1 percent Motorcycle gangs in history.  This class was designed as a seminar course (meeting Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).  The days the students did not meet in the class were meant for coding and extra reading in relation to the course.  A final project resulted in the culmination of data collected from the entire season of Sons of Anarchy.  This included the students most hated character, how the character’s actions connected to deviance, and how did this tv show help the students form their opinion on deviance itself.  Many students went as far as saying that watching Sons of Anarchy helped them connect to the sociological examples of deviance and to real life scenarios.  This entire course was a huge benefit for students to make connections to Sociological Deviance in Literature.  However, it is very important to know that this concept of using television shows for a class is solely reliant on a smaller class size.

 

This entire article reminded me of a conversation I had with the creative writing instructor I work with as an Instructional Assistant.  One of the things she primarily stressed was the importance of using multimedia as a tool for class.  Not only does this provide benefits to students staying engaged in the class, but lets them connect to real-life situations as source material for their writing assignments throughout the semester.  The Sons of Anarchy is a great television show to implement new pedagogical lessons being taught inside the classroom.  What a better way to study the sociological concepts of deviance than learn about a motorcycle club?https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/josotl/article/view/22515/30909

Teaching in An Online Environment

In Marsha Carr’s article The Online University Classroom: One Perspective for Effective Student Engagement and Teaching in an Online Environment, several universities are moving forward with a new design in online teaching.  What this means is that students are in favor of an online option for that specific course within their major.  Some of these reasons students are opting for online classes is because they either have a family or work-related responsibilities.  Carr warns that educators should consider how to present their online classroom to the students in an appropriate fashion and more importantly, shape the layout of the class to be formatted on an online interface.  Online courses go down a different route compared to the traditional classroom on campus and it is crucial to understand what the main takeaway is for students taking the course.

 

When taking on this new role as an online teacher, it is their responsibility to design the course based on the goals within the course, social aspects, and last but not least the information for the correct category.  The social interaction requires an idea for setting up sections for emails, online videos, and of course group work inside this internet classroom.  In order to successfully interact with the students, the instructor must have consistent updates, certain lectures each week, and discussion forums to answer questions about the course.  For some students, this is a new way to complete a course and approach a new way of learning through an online course.  However, for others, this is a daunting task to take on during a semester and some students drop the course due to the unfamiliarity of online education.   This is where the instructor posts a tutorial video on the online interface such as blackboard.  Blackboard is an online interface that encompasses forums, specific modules for the instructor to install on each section of the course, video conferencing (or an option to use Skype just in case a student needs to talk to the instructor face to face).  With all of these special tools required for an online course, it is the instructor’s responsibility to ensure all of the students respond in the course appropriately in an academic setting.  These courses should be easily accessible to all students enrolled in the class and the instructor needs to install the correct link for students to submit their work online.

 

As someone who has had experience not only as a student taking online courses but also working directly with instructors as an assistant, I truly understand the pitfalls.  When I TA’d last fall in a creative writing class with 100 students, I can fully comprehend some of the disadvantages of working with students online.  Several questions came up as I was reading this article and reflecting on my experience with online learning: how do you assist a student when they are confused with a concept?  What sort of comments would be easily comprehensible for an online class when discussing their writing?  However, online classes will improve as time goes on and eventually, create a successful method to obtain the same goals an instructor would achieve in a campus setting.  After all, Marsha Carr said this, “Online course delivery is a valuable method of teaching but it requires an organized course format and delivery; an instructor who is knowledgeable in the environment; and students that are aware of the responsibilities and additional demands of the online setting” (108).

https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1060450.pdf