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Recap of Educational Research Project

Guest blog post by Asma Karovalia, aakarova@uwaterloo.ca 

My name is Asma Karovalia and I had the opportunity to be Diana’s co-op student and work with her as an Educational Research Assistant for four months. Diana and I both conducted a scoping review to help answer our research question: “what is known from existing literature about practices for educators to assess students in undergraduate STEM education?” ...

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[TDF Recap] Conference Recaps

Over the next few months, this blog will feature some guest posts from UW Math faculty members who attended teaching conferences to share what they learned.

I encourage all faculty, regardless of rank, to make use of our Teaching Development Fund for professional development activities. You can find a list of potential conferences with dates, locations, and conference websites here, and apply for funding using this very...

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Back to Class

Last Friday UW announced the return (for all but a few large classes) of in-person instruction on Monday Feb 7. Here are some suggestions for making the return as painless as possible, while still supporting student learning.

  • Establish classroom norms. It would be a good idea to take a bit of time to introduce yourself and make your expectations clear about classroom participation (raise hands? call out answers?) Many students have never been in a university classroom, and you have the chance to shape the culture of yours.
     
  • ...
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Advice and Resources for Winter 2022 Math Instructors

Here are some resources for instructors looking to adapt their Winter 2022 courses to be online until Jan 24 (and robust in terms of when we actually do return to in-person.)

Course delivery in first three weeks:

  • In Math you *are* allowed to have synchronous lectures at the scheduled class times
  • For live meetings, use interactive tools (ask questions for students to answer in chat, use polls, Kahoot, etc) to engage students. If all you are doing is lecturing with no interaction, it might as well be a video.
  • If available, could...
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All That You Can't (or Shouldn't) Leave Behind

When we go back to in-person classes in Winter 2022, we know things won't go back exactly to the way they were before. Nor should they! We have learned a lot about alternative ways of assessing students, delivering content, and designing courses during the 6 terms we've had to do some remote teaching. Here are some of the things I'm hoping to keep when we move back into the classroom:

  • Online office hours as well as in person - convenient and practical
  • Use a variety of authentic assessment techniques - not just closed-book time-limited tests, although...
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My Goals as Teaching Fellow

On July 1, 2021, I took over the position of Math Faculty Teaching Fellow, following in the footsteps of two of my fabulous colleagues, Brian Forrest and Cyntha Struthers. I'm really excited to bring my expertise and passion to the job, and here are some of the things I'm hoping to accomplish in my 3 years:

Blended Learning Initiative

This is part of a long term University-wide plan to have more blended courses. COVID teaching was the push some needed to create resources, so let's use them for the long term! If you have an in-person component this...

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Will It Blend? A Manifesto on Post-COVID Blended Courses

Like many faculty members, I know that the research suggests a blended or flipped approach to learning (where students do some work outside of class time e.g. by watching videos or doing readings, and spend the in-class time working on problems and actively engaging with material) is better by far than only using classes for lectures where students absorb information passively. The thing that always held me back from applying this approach was the enormous amount of time and effort it would take to create that out-of-class content.

But over the last year, like many faculty...

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Using Piazza to Create Community

Online learning has driven more traffic than ever to discussion boards such as Piazza. I’ve had a lot of success with mine – one of my favourite things from this term is how kind and helpful my students are to each other. I know not everyone has the same experience so I wanted to share how I create the conditions for meaningful and productive interaction. Hopefully these tips can help you get the most out of your online discussion forum of choice.

For context, this is a large (~500 students) required introductory course in probability with fully asynchronous delivery.

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Student-Informed Course Design

In Winter 2020, my large introductory undergrad course went online abruptly for the last three weeks. Luckily as a core course there was already online course material available, and we were able to pivot fairly painlessly. In Spring 2020 I taught two small grad courses, and we did them completely synchronously so not much needed to change. But for the Fall 2020 term, when I was scheduled to teach a mid-size upper-year undergrad course, I needed to think very intentionally about how I was going to design it.

The Math faculty expressed a strong preference for asynchronous...

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How I Create Lecture Videos

There is no one right way to create lecture material for an online course. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. I’m going to describe what I do, not because I think it’s “best” but just for interest. The adage "if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter" comes to mind, in that it does take more time to make a succinct video, but I think it is worth it.

One thing that was extremely important to me was preserving my own personal style in the videos. In class I always use the chalkboard (never slides) because there is a huge benefit to seeing problems worked...

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