Recent Forum Posts
From categories:
page 1 of 212next »

Hey, why don't we have a link back to the USC website or to CET on our site?

Link To USC by aeferrisaeferris, 30 Apr 2008 17:34

Here is my two cents:

randomized experiments are considered to be the "Gold Standard" of understanding the effects of programs from measuring the effects of new drugs to evaluating the effects of government programs. The idea is to randomly divide people into a treatment and a control group and expose treated group to the program and compare the results between the two group.

In case of Wiki, we divide TAs into two groups randomly. It can be proved (mathematically) that if TAs are selected randomly into these two groups, the groups will have the same characteristics on average and behave similarly (again on average). If we then compare the average evaluation scores in these two groups in semesters before and after wiki we can find the effect. The following picture explains it better:


In the above hypothetical figure, wiki was announced in early Spring 08 semester and the effect of it is 5% ([2.2 – 2.1]/2), which is quite large for a social program.

There are some necessary requirements for this experiment to be convincing:

  1. There should be two groups, treated and control at the same time. If we do not have a control group then we cannot disentangle the effect of a million other things that could happen simultaneously with wiki and affect TA’s performance. For example, one can argue that the increase in the TA performance is because they gained more experience in teaching and has nothing to do with Wiki. Therefore the results are not convincing.
  2. One can argue that as we give access to people to use Wiki, not everybody will use it eventually. Therefore, eventually we have a group that never used it and we can consider them as a control group. But this also gives flawed results because people who choose not to use the Wiki may be quite different from those who choose to use it. For example, they are more interested in improving their teaching skills, or they may perceive that Wiki actually helps them while those who don’t use it think it might not help them.They are different in nature and the results are biased (over or under-estimated). Therefore, as said in the gold standard, people should randomly be selected to treated and control group.
  3. I fully agree that TAs in treated group should not be pushed to use Wiki. On the other hand they should have the full freedom of choice. But suppose instead of one treated groups we have several treated groups. TAs in one of the treated groups have the full freedom of choice without any interference. The other groups could be exposed to a range of marketing schemes in addition, for example to periodic emails, to promotional emails, to workshops regarding Wiki, etc. This way we can not only measure the effect of Wiki, but also the effect of different marketing schemes to sell it in addition.

Thank you very much for reading my long post. Thank you all for the Wiki project. Thank you Bilal for setting up this forum and many other things.

Do you have them on your computer or at another site?
To upload a file go to the bottom of the page where you want to load it. You will see a "files" link. Click it and an "upload file" option will appear. You can click it to enter where the files it.
Once you upload you can use the "insert image" or "insert image wizard". They're in the second row right next to the camera and speaker. It will tell you what they are when you move the mouse icon over the icons.
The raw syntax is here.
Hope this helps.

Re: Uploading images or PDF's by GregGreg, 11 Feb 2008 05:57

Okay…any help here is VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!!! How the heck can I upload an image onto the Wiki? I have some samples to post on our Module, but have no idea how to do it…and I don't have any more time to spend/waste looking through the Wiki's "Help" menu.

Any advice???

Uploading images or PDF's by JeanineJeanine, 10 Feb 2008 13:28

I like all of the above. Mission I would suggest should be derived from CET statement and TAF application notice. Should be clear how AF relates to larger goals of CET and of course match how it is advertised.

Pedagogical, motivational, developmental, cognitive, psychological theories as related to education - particularly an overview of which have been popular in higher education but now are less so or fell out of favor, which new ones are on the horizon, etc. The major theories and trends.

To expand on a couple of points in Bilal's list, I'd welcome more on:

1. Concrete strategies on how to effectively and creatively use technology in discussion sections. Also, what are emerging innovative strategies that haven't yet reached the mainstream teaching world?


2. How can we engage students who have strengths as not only auditory and visual learners, but also as kinesthetic learners in a variety of fields? Additionally, how can service-learning serve as a tool in various disciplines?


I'm still a fan of post-hoc testing.

And I think it may be more productive to measure usage / perceived usefulness. It's possible that asking TAs to share their course evaluations would significantly decrease participation levels in the assessment study.

Better to know whether people are actually using the resource, and whether they consider it to be pedagogically useful.

My two cents,

Good suggestions.

We could also add a section on our personal pedagogical goals (brief statement on why we got involved with the CET, and what we want to achieve through our involvement). Then our individual bios would more closely correspond with the Faculty Fellow bios:

Re: TAF Page on CET Website by carrieannecarrieanne, 25 Jan 2008 21:48

One suggestion: A session on how to incorporate non-graded assessment into a course — written/oral, individual/group activities that a TA or instructor could incorporate in order to make class more hands-on or interactive (and assess what students have learned without increasing the grading load).

This would be helpful for TAs, who generally can't add graded assignments or activities to a course, and helpful for beginning instructors interested in adding more classroom activities to their own courses.

It would be great to learn about (and possibly try out) a variety of different activities. I know that most of my best classroom activity ideas have come from other teachers. :)

Thanks everybody for attending our first meeting of Spring '08. Special thanks to Lawford for a wonderful presentation. You can download his presentation here and read the two white papers he mentioned here and here.

Here are key items that we discussed at the meeting. Please use this thread to discuss anything related to Wednesday's meeting — from food to the location everything is fair game! (c:

  • A list of CET-organized events for Spring 2008 was distributed. You can also find the same list on the CET's websites.
  • We welcomed Nicole Ball as the new administrative assistant at CET. Thanks Nicole for … well, everything.
  • CET website needs a webpage dedicated to the TAF program. Please discuss the (proposed) contents of that page in this thread.
  • The next TAF meeting would be:
    • Wednesday, Feb 13, 2-4:30 PM, location TBA.
  • We decided to finalize the professional development exercises/seminars for our remaining meetings through discussion on this forum. Please use this thread for this discussion. I've posted (with Christina's help) a complete list of the seminars we had last year along with the copies of presentations/papers that were used in those seminars.
  • Mehdi presented his idea for evaluating the impact of our wiki resource on TAs across campus. We decided to continue that discussion on this forum.
  • Regarding the wiki development, following points were generally resolved:

* Any TAF can edit grammar and/or add links (external or within the wiki) to any wiki page. We trust each other to do what is best. This is part of the peer review process that naturally occurs as we look at each other’s progress. Any major textual changes need that group’s permission though.

* We decided to have a conversational tone throughout the wiki to draw in the reader and make the wiki less textbook-like. We will all try our best to adhere to this conversational tone, with the understanding that formal is OK once in awhile, if necessary.

* We recalled that each group should develop summaries of their (large) pages.

* Something we only touched on, but still needs further discussion is wiki standardization and final review process.

Once again, thanks everybody who could make it. Those who couldn't, we hope you can attend future meetings. Have a wonderful Spring semester.

3rd TAF Meeting 2007-2008 by bilalbilal, 25 Jan 2008 09:04

Here are some initial thoughts on what should be posted on the TAF webpage:

  • Mission statement
  • A picture of all TAFs together
  • Headshot of each TAF along with the following:
    • Name
    • Email
    • Department
    • Research Area
    • Teaching Courses/Responsibilities (i.e., which courses have you taught and what were your main responsibilities — discussion/lab/office hours/lecture/…?)
  • A link to this wikidot site
  • A contact email address

Suggestions/comments? Any suggestions for a good mission statement?

TAF Page on CET Website by bilalbilal, 25 Jan 2008 08:42

At our Jan '08 meeting, Mehdi Majbouri suggested a formal study to evaluate the impact of this web resource that we are developing for TAs university-wide. The idea generated a lot of interest, and led to (what I thought were some) very constructive comments. Let's continue that discussion right here.

If you have a different suggestion on how best to evaluate the usefulness/effectiveness of the Wiki that we're developing, please feel free to share that in this thread as well.

Evaluating the Wiki Resource by bilalbilal, 25 Jan 2008 08:18

Professional development seminars for TAFs in 2007-2008 include:

  1. Technology You Can Use: A Talk by Bilal Zafar.
  2. Engaging Your Students in a Learner-Centered Classroom: A Talk by Lawford Anderson. [White paper: Inventory of Learner-Centered Teaching at USC] [White paper: Learner-centered Teaching and Education at USC: A Resource for Faculty]
  3. It's All About Attention And Being Active: Motivating and Engaging Your Students — A Talk by Helena Sali, Rossier School of Education. [Link to the Video of the talk]
  4. Knowing Your Boundaries: A Conversation about TA-student Relationship, Professionalism, Sexual Harassment and Academic Integrity — Participants: Lawford Anderson, Micheal Babcock and Bilal Zafar
  5. TA-Student Interaction: A Discussion with the Undergraduate Fellows — Panelists: CET Undergraduate Fellows Phil and Jason, Moderator: Laurence Clerfeuille

During 2006 - 2007, professional development seminars/discussions conducted for the TAFs were:

  1. How cognitive psychology, motivation theory, and developmental psychology inform good pedagogy? A discussed based on Ken Bain and Jim Lang's What Do Best Teachers Do? and discussed key points at the meeting.
  2. Research resources in education: A Talk by Linda Weber.
  3. Principles of online instruction: A Talk by Jude Higdon.
  4. Frameworks for developing learning objectives: A discussion based on Anderson Krathwohl's The Structure, Speficity and the Problems of Objectives.
  5. Dealing with problem students: A general group discussion.

Thanks Christina for finding this list.

GregGreg 01 Dec 2007 02:39
in discussion Resources Website / New Feature Feedback » Comments

Hi all,
There's a way to enable comments on each page, but we want to know what you think about adding them. It seems like it may be good for letting users comment about things not included in a module so future TAFs can adjust for new concerns.

Comments by GregGreg, 01 Dec 2007 02:39

Hi all,
We enabled page ratings on the wiki so users can rate pages to give us an idea how the liked the content and whether it's useful by proxy. You can see what I mean by looking at the first page and seeing the listing.
We're interested in what you think or if you can think of another idea that can help out?

Page Rankings and Usefulness by GregGreg, 01 Dec 2007 02:34

Michelle compiled your answers to the open-ended questions of the questionnaire. They are too long to include in this post so I've attached them as a PDF. Click here to view. I also started a thread to discuss the suggestions on professional development part of the TAF program in the other category.

I think these are some very well thought-out and insightful comments. And, since you guys were the first people to actually read these modules, this is really very valuable feedback. After all, when everything is said and done, people like us will be using this site and comments like these really tell us all what we need to do as the development work (re-)starts.

It'll be fun to complete this module development work and then have another group of TAs answer the same questions. I'm sure, for those of us who worked on these modules last year, their answers will have the sweat taste of karma. (c: [Just kidding, guy, jusssst kidding].

In the questionnaire, the question was asked:

Regarding your professional development, what aspects of teaching would you like to learn about in the TAF program? In other words, what main theme(s) are essential to teaching in general and should therefore be addressed here?

Here is a condensed version of your answers (thanks, Michelle!):

  • Incorporating new & evolving technology to facilitate the entire teaching/learning process. Also, how to effectively engage the students’ attention & convey your thoughts/ideas
  • To learn more about effective teaching practices for different levels of comprehension that have scientific evidence to support them.
  • As I progress toward being a professor, I would like to know more about the differences in roles and responsibilities asa professor vs. as a TA. In addition, I think it would be useful to learn more about how professors rework their courses and teaching style over time in order to keep things fresh (for themselves & for students), as well as current (with respect to technology and the like-practices etc.) Last: creating courses.
  • Lessons learned, involving students, bringing in multiple perspectives
  • Developing a syllabus/test questions/dealing with difficult students
  • The aspects of teaching that experienced teachers/mentors feel are the most important/essential for beginning teachers to be exposed to. Ideally, I would like to be exposed to a variety of perspectives on each of these aspects.
  • I’m interested in learning more about how to teach in creative fields such as my own field, animation, because there is a significant difference in teaching sciences vs. fine arts.
  • Motivational techniques, Making readings more experiential by incorporating media, exercises, pedagogical theory
  • How can I become a stronger teacher? How will this teach me not to be just a TA, but a professor?
  • Effective types of teaching for different types of learners, what not to do as an educator, presenting course material in a creative/novel/interactive manner, using Power Point effectively (not as a crutch)
  • Engaging with students in the age of technology
  • I’m very much interested in the science that goes into effective teaching/ learning. I would like to implement a learner-based strategy for my future classes & in order to do so I certainly can use the advice of others who have used such strategy before.
  • It’s hard to tell at the beginning of the program (especially if you are not versed in pedagogical theory or familiar with the research) what the essential themes are. Feels a bit like walking in on the first day of class and asking the students what they want to learn. =) That said, the greatest challenge I’ve found myself facing as a TA and instructor at USC has been motivating students to put in the effort necessary to learn the material (I’m surprised at how difficult it is to get students to do the reading!). So I’d like to learn more about non-punitive ways to motivate students/make students more excited about learning.

Let's discuss them and try to come up with concrete programs we'd like to have.

Just got back from our second meeting. Thanks for coming everyone; it was really great to see you all. My apologies for going overtime.

I've added a couple of slides about this wiki to the presentation. Here's the updated version. If you have any suggestions on how this presentation can be improved, please feel free to post them in this thread. I'm sure some of you are far more tech-savvy than me. As with everything else we're developing, we'd like to leave this presentation for the next generation of TAFs.

For those who couldn't make it to the meeting today, we basically worked in small groups and discussed what each group is going to do to complete their respective module. We merged module teams such that we now have only four teams, three of which are responsible for two modules each. Here are the new teams:

  • Module 1 & Module 3: Michelle, Carol, Mehdi, Steven, Gurveen, Ginger and Travers.
  • Module 4 & Module 5: Christina Law, Don, JOnathan, Jeanine, Poorani, Urvi and Arjun.
  • Module 2 & Module 7: Laurence, Trish, Jiaguan, Christina Neuner , Shawn, Abbie and Carrie Anne.
  • Module 6: Greg, Mark, Heather and Michal.

A few important points (that I can recall) from these discussions were:

  • Module 7 will be broken up into two modules. Creating assignments will be separated from grading.
  • Module 1 (Roles, responsibilities, and rewards of TA-ing) will highlight the rewards of TA-ing with focus on near-term rewards.
  • Module 6 (Teaching with technology) will talk about assessing the usefulness of technology.

If there are other important points that I'm missing, feel free to post them. I believe each team will be coordinating their efforts over the email (or you can use this forum).

Our next meeting in scheduled for Wednesday, January 23, 2:00-4:00pm.

Hope everybody's semester ends well and …. happy holidays!

2nd TAF Meeting 2007-2008 by bilalbilal, 29 Nov 2007 01:22
page 1 of 212next »
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.