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Summary of Teaching Responsibilities
Monali Chowdhury
Graduate Teaching Associate
Department of Psychology
Winner of the 2011 Graduate Associate Teaching Award

Graduate Teaching Associate

As a graduate teaching associate (GTA), I have taught ten sections of Psychology 100 spanning over Fall 2005 – Spring 2006, and again from Fall 2009 – present.

Course description: General Psychology 100 is a 5-credit hour introductory level course providing exposure to the broad field of psychology and several sub-areas in this field. Psychology 100 (Psych 100) is one of the most popular classes at OSU typically with 1500-2300 students enrolled per quarter, across 30 or more sections. Psych 100 is taught solely by GTAs (with an occasional doctorate lecturer) under the supervision of Faculty Director, Dr. Melissa Beers. For consistency, the textbook, assigned readings, midterm and final exams, grading, and course policies are standardized across all sections.

Class composition: Psych 100 fulfills, in part, the requirements of the Social Diversity and Social Science components of the University’s General Education Curriculum (GEC), and is a  rerequisite for advanced coursework in psychology. This attracts a vast majority of freshmen to enroll who are mostly non-psychology majors and whose academic backgrounds run the gamut from pre-med/pre-nursing and engineering to fashion and retail studies. Classes also comprise upperclassmen, several international and some non-traditional students. Section sizes are typically large with as many as 80-120 students, but average around 55-60 students per section.

Course goals: Psychology 100 aims to help students gain knowledge on several psychological concepts, become familiar with the theories and methods of scientific inquiry as applied to the study of human behavior, thought, and emotion, acquire critical thinking approaches to information, and develop awareness and appreciation of the social diversity found in the pluralistic nature of our culture.

Summary of my teaching responsibilities and role as a Psych 100 GTA

  • Syllabus preparation: Create a personal syllabus outlining my learning objectives for students, quiz dates and format, extra credit assignments, and other personal class policies
  • Lesson plans: Create organized guided notes and PowerPoint lectures on 16 chapters; I caught a serious factual error in our current Psych 100 textbook while preparing my lectures. This prompted me to write a letter to the authors pointing out the error and providing evidence for my argument. Henceforth, the authors have corrected this error and the publishers have courteously included me in the Acknowledgements section of the new edition.
  • Learning environment: Create a stimulating learning environment by using visual aids, class activities, and discussion
  • Student rapport: Create a safe and personable class atmosphere, by building student rapport, where students feel involved and comfortable to participate
  • Quiz construction and grading: Create new application-based quiz questions for three quizzes
  • Review session: Create a new set of practice questions for exam review sessions; hold three exam review sessions every quarter
  • Exams: Administer and proctor exams in my own and an additional section; grade exams
  • Carmen course website: Maintain and update Carmen with grades, guided notes, relevant course information, and reminders of upcoming events such as quizzes, extra credit assignment deadline etc.
  • Regular contact with students: Being available to help students during regular office hours, by appointment, and via e-mail
  • Mentoring: Mentor undergraduate course assistants, who are matched with GTAs, by providing feedback on short presentations they make in my classes or practice questions that they write
  • Substitute TA: Be available to cover for other TAs in event of sickness/unavailability; I enjoy interacting with students from other sections and have taught as a substitute TA on multiple occasions.
  • Textbook review: Carefully review and provide constructive feedback on textbooks being considered by the Psych 100 program for adoption in Fall 2011
  • Program meetings: I have been actively involved in exam strategic planning meetings to enhance the standardized exam construction process.
  • Psychology 852 (Practicum on the Teaching of Psychology): I have been invited to visit the psychology teaching practicum classes on several occasions where I engaged in peer mentoring on topics such as first day teaching experiences, classroom management, class activities etc. I also provide mentoring when new TAs from Psych 852 sit in on my classes to pick up “tricks of the trade.”
  • Summer 2010 pilot of E-Book: I collaborated with Dr. Beers in a pilot study conducted by the Psych 100 program exploring the use of electronic textbooks. My section was chosen to receive quarterlong free access to the e-textbook. I gathered, via multiple in-class surveys, feedback on student attitudes towards the use of e-text. We conducted quantitative analysis on the survey data, assessed the impact of this section-wide free availability of e-text on student learning, and presented the findings at a recent teaching conference, where journal editors expressed interest in publishing this pilot study.


Leadership Roles

Exam Committee Chair

Every quarter, groups of four to six TAs form Exam Committees that work as a team to prepare the standardized midterms and final exam. I have frequently served as the Chair of Exam Committees with the following roles in this capacity:

  • Take the lead on preparing a balanced, GEC-relevant exam by choosing appropriate questions from an existing question bank, and being accountable for exam quality and security
  • Delegate responsibilities to other exam committee members that include writing new exam questions, preparing exam key, copying over 800 exams etc.
  • Lead the Exam Committee meeting to select the final mix of questions to appear on the exam
  • Identify the topics missed by most students course-wide based on item analysis results

On other occasions, as an Exam Committee member, I have contributed to the exam construction process by creating new applied questions and participating in other exam tasks.

Assessment Committee Chair

As mentioned before, Psych 100 fulfills the University’s GEC requirements. Every year, the Psych 100 Assessment Committee (typically six to eight TAs) evaluates student understanding of GEC objectives by assessing performance on (1) GEC-relevant items in exams (embedded testing), and/or (2) reflection papers that students write on GEC-relevant topics covered throughout the quarter.

I have been assigned the important position of Chair of the Assessment Committee and have the following responsibilities in this capacity:

  • Allocate GEC reflection paper prompts to over 30 TAs teaching Psych 100
  • Oversee course-wide collection of reflection papers from students
  • Grade and delegate grading of reflection papers to other members of the Assessment Committee
  • Summarize and analyze quantitative data (from reflection paper grades) that reflect how well students are grasping the GEC learning objectives that Psych 100 aims to meet
  • This past Fall, I took the lead on fine-tuning the rubric used to grade GEC reflection papers, and modifying the reflection paper prompts to better portray the GEC objectives of the University.

Extracurricular Teaching Activities

In addition to my teaching responsibilities as a GTA, I have sought out other opportunities for professional growth. These include:

  • Facilitator at UCAT Teaching Orientation: In Fall 2010, I was chosen as one of the facilitators at the UCAT university-wide teaching orientation where I co-facilitated a session on “Introduction to Teaching and Learning” for Independent Courses, and also served as a panelist in two sessions of “International Teachers: Experienced International TAs Share Their Experience.”
  • Experienced International TA speaker: I shared my perspectives as an international TA with students in two sections of the Spoken English Program’s Ed T&L 505 class in Fall 2010.
  • Workshop participation: I continuously try to keep myself informed of teaching approaches of prominent authors in Psychology and current pedagogical advancements by active involvement in workshops. Noted among these are talks by textbook authors Douglas Bernstein and Steven Lynn, David Myers’s virtual seminar on Practical Strategies for Effective Teaching of Psychology,” and the Ohio Digital Bookshelf Conference on  digitization of psychology textbooks to make course materials more affordable for students.
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