Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTF) 11-12 Final Report Excerpts and Summary
Department of Economics
Based on the full report by Dimitrios Nikolaou
List and description of program elements
The GTF program in the Economics Department for the academic year 2011-2012 consisted of three parts; quarterly workshops on teaching, in-person advising sessions, and support of the TAs needs for use of the Carmen website. The first workshop was on Creating a Teaching Portfolio which aimed at helping this year’s job market candidates with organizing and clarifying what kind of material should be included in their portfolio so as to improve their chances of getting offers from teaching-oriented universities. This workshop took place in Autumn Quarter and was facilitated by Stephanie Rohdieck. The second workshop focused on strategies the TAs could use to increase participation and more actively engage their students while in class. This Active Learning workshop was facilitated by Stephanie Rohdieck and took place at the beginning of the Winter Quarter. The third workshop was the result of the imminent conversion from the quarter to the semester system as we wanted to inform the Economics Department TAs about the opportunities and challenges they would face under the new system. This workshop was facilitated by Teresa Johnson and Monica Kowalski during Spring Quarter. The in-person advising session aimed at providing a source of information to the TAs on challenges they would face during the year and as a source of information on questions that may appear during their teaching. These sessions were voluntarily and any of the TAs who was interested could stop by my office to address their concerns. The goal was for me to serve as a mediator between the TAs and the undergraduate coordinator so as to improve the teaching experience of the TAs. Finally, the Carmen workshops aimed at explaining how to use this source so as to improve the organization of their courses.
Itemized Budget of GTF Funds
Despite the workshop topics being relevant to the needs of the Economics Department, we provided an extra incentive to attending the workshops through offering refreshments to the attendees. Towards this end, the budget of the $200 provided by the UCAT was extremely helpful along with additional financial support provided by the Economics Department. In particular, $83.26 were used towards pizzas and sodas from Adiatico’s for the Teaching Portfolio workshop on October 7, 2011; $81.00 were used for pizzas and sodas from Adriatico’s for the Active Learning workshop on February 17, 2012; $128.73 were spent toward breakfast items, coffee and tea from Panera for the Quarter to Semester Conversion workshop on May 18, 2012. The total amount of $292.99 was subsidized by $200 from the UCAT and the remaining amount came from the Economics Department.
My responsibilities entailed the organization of the three workshops that were facilitated by representatives of the UCAT. I was also responsible for introducing and explaining the GTF program to the TAs during the departmental orientation program at the beginning of the academic year. During this orientation I was the facilitator of the Carmen workshop. During the year I was available to my fellow TAs to come and see me to express their concerns about their teaching. Although there were not as many in-person sessions as I had hoped, their number was always higher after one of the workshops was organized. For example, some of the upperclassmen asked me questions about their portfolio or asked me to help them with some parts concerning their teaching philosophy or teaching statement.
I am excited for the opportunity that was given to me to help my fellow TAs through the GTF program. This is the main reason I accepted to continue as the departmental GTF for the new academic year. The economics department has agreed to support the continuation of this program during the academic year 2012-2013. Given the feedback from last year the focus for next year will still be on supporting the teaching of the Economics Department TAs. Most of the TAs in the Economics Department already have the knowledge of the material they will teach (as they are required to teach after they have passed their qualifying exams which is a comprehensive test on advanced economics topics). Therefore, the workshops will aim at addressing alternative teaching strategies. By applying these workshops/orientations I hope that my fellow TAs will be able to get an overall idea on how to improve on their teaching and provide them with alternative methods they may not have thought about in the past. Moreover, we are thinking about organizing a workshop on how to create a new course from scratch as this was one the suggestions that came up after this year’s last workshop. Such a workshop will be helpful not only for current TAs who will need to teach their own course for the first time, but also for TAs who are about to go to the job market and eventually be required to teach to a new university.