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Department GTA Support: Mathematics

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📥  Case Studies

This case study from Mathematical Sciences, is part of a series providing short summaries of some of the different good practice models and approaches taken to department level support for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

The Department of Mathematical Sciences has a long running internal programme for the training and development of very large numbers of postgraduate as maths tutors, set up and taught by Geoff Smith.

1. September (and January if necessary): one day in-house induction covering (inter alia)

  1. Housekeeping aspects of tutorials.
  2. Policy on purpose of tutorials.
  3. Marking and feedback to undergraduate students.
  4. Exposition technique, and the use of the board, chalk/pen and voice.
  5. How to report students who are losing their way.
  6. How to prepare for a tutorial.
  7. Keeping an appropriate social distance from first year undergraduates.
  8. How to get paid.
  9. Many maths postgraduate students have an international background. We discuss the traditions and expectations UK universities (which can be very different from overseas institutions).

2. Observations: all tutors are observed by a members of staff every year. A record is made of any clear development needs of the tutor and action taken. A confidential report is also given to the tutor which can therefore be very frank.

3. Undergraduate students fill in feedback forms concerning the quality of their tutorials. Action is taken when there is a significant problem.

If you would like more information, contact the Directors of Studies/Teaching in the department. Support for setting up or reviewing your own department’s support for GTAs, along with further information on the University level support and development and can be obtained from the Centre for Learning and Teaching (contact acdev@bath.ac.uk).

 

Department GTA Support: Chemical Engineering

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📥  Case Studies

This case study from Chemical Engineering, is part of a series providing short summaries of some of the different good practice models and approaches taken to department level support for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

In Chemical Engineering a member of staff takes on the specific role of coordinating the GTAs (lab demonstrators in this case who mainly support year 1 and year 2 labs). The following outlines the programme of development for demonstrators in the department:

  • Department induction –covers induction to labs, key safety and other information, and expectations at department level, working alongside the central TIPs course.
  • Lab Report Feedback session – all demonstrators meet to look at their first batch of feedback on undergraduate lab reports, which are discussed for consistency and help in assessing and writing feedback in conjunction with the academics involved in the labs.
  • Review of the labs – a full team meeting of all involved in the lab including demonstrators, academics, technicians, to review any feedback or issues arising so far (the first time, this was run after the feedback session, and with pizza/drinks).
  • Feedback – feedback from students about the demonstrators is passed via staff who then present it to the demonstrators (filtering for the relevant information and for rude/inappropriate comments) along with any other relevant feedback from staff evaluating their demonstrating so far.

If you would like more information, contact the Directors of Studies/Teaching in the department. Support for setting up or reviewing your own department’s support for GTAs, along with further information on the University level support and development and can be obtained from the Centre for Learning and Teaching (contact acdev@bath.ac.uk).

 

Department GTA Support: SPS

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📥  Case Studies

This case study from Social and Policy Sciences, is part of a series providing short summaries of some of the different good practice models and approaches taken to department level support for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

Support for GTAs in SPS is now formalised and regularly reviewed. The list below provides a (brief) overview of the main activities and resources, with responsibility for these split between the department level and the unit convenor. The package of support provides initial introductions, specific support later in time when needed, and feedback/development for GTAs during their teaching. (more…)

 

Department GTA Support: Computer Science

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📥  Case Studies

This case study from Computer Science, is part of a series providing short summaries of some of the different good practice models and approaches taken to department level support for graduate teaching assistants (GTAs).

Computer Science created a specific named role of “tutor coordinator” (tutor is the term used for GTAs in the department). The original coordinator then set up and ran the following plan of activities:

  • Department induction – to cover department level specifics, working alongside the central TIPs course.
  • Regular meetings with all tutors – initially monthly, and well received by tutors, these meetings allowed for discussion and feedback on issues arising whilst teaching.
  • 1-2-1 support offered to tutors
  • Invite to departmental teaching workshops– these are open to all generally, but are part of including and encouraging tutors within the teaching community of the department.
  • Feedback collected from the tutors and ideas presented to the DLTQC

In order to ensure time is available for the above, in particular the regular meetings, the tutor coordinator role is being taken on by a member of staff who isn’t a DoS. Current work for the future is focused on feedback to the tutors, including observations.

If you would like more information, contact the Directors of Studies/Teaching in the department. Support for setting up or reviewing your own department’s support for GTAs, along with further information on the University level support and development and can be obtained from the Centre for Learning and Teaching (contact acdev@bath.ac.uk).

 

An e-platform for enhancing the Operations Game

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

The project was about the development of an e-platform to improve a simulation game we play in class for the Undergraduates, the Postgraduates and the MBAs. The simulation game is a simulation game played worldwide in Operations Management classes, where students form groups and operate a manufacturing company which produces greetings cards. Throughout the game, students make important decisions re the process design, workload allocation, operations strategy etc, towards the maximisation of profits. The project introduces a new feature, through an online platform that enables students select customer orders via an auction environment. Statistical tools are also integrated to enable monitoring of their performance compared to their competitors. (more…)

 

Learning from Blogs – evaluating the learning and teaching benefits of using blogs in higher education

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

The project aimed to evaluate the use of blogs across a number of units in the SPS department with a view to enhancing existing practice, by carrying out a detailed assessment of how students’ learning can be enhanced by blogs, and by identifying any barriers to their effective use. The project showed that students in general found the approach useful, because it helped them to clarify their thoughts on a topic, develop a critical voice, and experience writing in a different style and audience. The key lessons in terms of incorporating this approach were to maximise opportunities for teacher/peer feedback and ensuring that the rationale was clearly explained. There was considerable differences in terms of students’ motivation. While some students were keen that blog-related exercises were graded, others particularly enjoyed the freedom and scope for experimentation that came when these exercises were not formally assessed. The findings of this evaluation will be disseminated through a set of practical guidelines to encourage the wider use of this teaching method across the university and an academic article. (more…)

 

Exploring the Benefits of Peer Assisted Learning (PAL): an evaluation of University undergraduate PAL schemes

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

Peer support, comprising peer mentoring and peer assisted learning (PAL), is an important component of HE and thus contributes to the University’s Education objectives. Our investment in PAL is significant, especially where it is essential for professional accreditation. There has been very little research within our institution as to the advantages of PAL and the steps we can take to improve it.

This project aimed to define the benefits of PAL and produce guidelines promoting successful PAL schemes with maximal student engagement. We used a qualitative approach to evaluate the perceived benefits from attendees across a range of PAL schemes at the University of Bath. Qualitative data obtained through SAMIS evaluations and focus groups, were used to assess the overall benefits of PAL, learn more about the key criteria required for successful schemes and identify effective strategies which promote engagement and inclusivity. PAL attendance and student grades will provide quantitative data to assess the impact of PAL on academic performance

Guidance produced through this project, together with a summary of accompanying benefits, will be available on peer support webpages hosted through the Students’ Union (SU). These will enable PAL to develop across our institution and enhance the student experience.   (more…)

 

Randomised Coursework

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📥  Case Studies

Peter Sloan, Department of Physics

In this case study (from accounts first published on his blog), Peter Sloan discusses the implementation of randomised coursework, followed by an evaluation over two years looking at the outcome on exam performance and considering additional questions such as bias in the outcomes.

(more…)

 

Social Networks and Social Learning: a study of two MOOC communities

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📥  Case Studies

Summary

The University has successfully run two Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); one on ‘Inside Cancer’ and one on ‘Sustainability for Professionals’. These MOOCs have attracted different communities of participants, as reported internally at Exchange! 2014.

Social Network Analysis (SNA) is a technique used to identify the characteristics of a network. A variety of SNA metrics can be used to detect the overall character of a network (density, connectedness, ‘small world’ and so on). In addition node-level metrics (one at the level of the individual participant) can be used to identify different types of participant (for example, ‘hubs’, ‘spokes’ and ‘links’).

This project has applied SNA techniques to these two Bath MOOC courses. The study has been mainly descriptive rather than proscriptive. The hypotheses that have been explored are that:

  1. The differences between the courses leads to measurable differences in the nature of the resulting network;
  2. These differences could guide the development of new MOOCs.

In order to explore these hypotheses, the courses have be compared using a variety of SNA metrics. The findings show that:

  1. A pedagogical design encouraging community driven (‘connectivist’) learning does indeed lead to measurable structural differences in a MOOC network. Thus, design of a MOOC needs to take into account the desired learning behaviour of the participants;
  2. We were able to identify network learning – in which conversations are driven by the community rather than by tutors. Thus, the role of community gatekeepers are key and these individuals can be identified and supported;
  3. There is some evidence that a more centralized MOOC becomes more community led over time. Thus, it may be important to redesign a MOOC over time to take account of the evolving participant behaviour.

(more…)