EOSC 516

Teaching and Learning in Earth and Ocean Sciences
Instructor: Brett Gilley

As mentioned on my About page, I was involved with EOSC 516 since my first semester as a M.Sc. candidate. I took this course in its second year as a means of obtaining training for TA work. Quickly, I discovered that attending this course gave me the best four hours of every week; I read papers as soon as they were assigned, I greeted class discussions with enthusiasm, and I inquired about extra resources to learn more about pedagogy.

Since this introduction to the world of teaching and learning, I held three Teaching Assistantship positions for this course, both as a teacher and facilitator of the course, and as an administrator, organizing the course structure and content during the summer before the fall 2010 semester.

September – December 2009: Teacher and Facilitator (10 students)
During my first semester teaching and facilitating EOSC 516, my primary responsibilities included facilitating half-day sessions during which graduate students taught ten-minute practice lessons and received feedback from their peers. I also designed and taught learner-centred lessons using teaching methods such as active learning, questioning techniques, lesson planning models and learning objectives.
My primary challenge during this semester was to become comfortable facilitating the half-day sessions. Though I spent much of my energy checking and re-checking that I had all the facilitator tasks and tools covered during the first session, I became much more comfortable with leading a small group of teachers as the semester progressed.

May – August 2010: Course Administrator (0 students)
For this Teaching Assistantship, my responsibilities included designing a course website using WebCT Vista Learning Management System Software, rewriting and creating assignments, restructuring course modules, facilitating the process of course evolution with the Instructor and other TA, and archiving course development since it began in 2007.
This TA position was unique in that it gave me insight into the tasks involved in curriculum development. Though I was given an existing course to work with, I was also given freedom in suggesting and implementing changes. By consulting previous years’ summative evaluations, I was able to come up with a number of  ideas for course improvement, such as breaking down the one (large) assignment into three smaller assignments due throughout the semester; creating a course website; and implementing small assignments to promote reflection. This process helped solidify my confidence as a course developer and leader.

September – December 2010: Teacher and Facilitator (14 students)
In addition to fulfilling the same responsibilities as I did in September – December 2009, I also mentored and co-facilitated with the new TA for the course, maintained the course website, and wrote a guide for future TAs of EOSC 516.
This TA position was special in that I was able to witness the course changes I had recently implement come to fruition. I really enjoyed the course website, as it became the place for the class to post reflections and discuss pedagogy topics. In addition, at the semester’s end there were a lack of complaints about the assignment(s) structure in the summative feedback as opposed to prior years.

To read up on details of course structure, evaluation, and evolution, please click here, which will direct you to the poster I created for the STLHE 2010 conference.