part 3: mentored teaching experience

Mentored Teaching Experience component of the certificate addresses the Core Competency 5: Assessing Student Learning.

For my Mentored Teaching Project, I will include artifacts from my TE 150 – Reflections on Learning teaching, which I taught under the mentorship of Dr. David Wong.

Course: TE 150
Semester: Fall 2016
Students: Pre-service teachers and others

Summary of Mentored Teaching Experience

For my mentored teaching experience, I designed a series of exam projects as an alternative to traditional in-class timed examination. In TE 150, a course on Reflections on Learning, which includes pre-service teachers and students from other diverse majors, they conducted research on topics related to education in the US and the world. They conducted these in groups of 3, and presented their work in class. All the other students, engaged in a discussion on each presentation on social media to provide peer feedback and constructive criticism.

6-step Outline

Teaching and Learning Goal: What skill or ability do you want students to acquire?  What behavior do you want to change? What knowledge do you want to test?  What assumptions (either students’ or the instructor’s) do you want to test?  Focus on only one such goal

I expected my students to think critically about education-related issues in the US and globally. I designed an alternative to exams in forms of exam projects, where the students were asked to research issues of discrimination, poverty, social justice, access, and others affecting education globally, including the US. They worked in groups on research papers to propose practice-based solutions for each of these problems. Each group presented their projects in front of their classmates, where all classmates were asked to engage in a twitter chat to provide feedback to other research studies.

The purpose of this project was to provide students with realistic research opportunities and experience the practicality of applying theory to practice. They experienced the challenges an educator/researcher faces in trying to implement practice-based solutions.

I wanted to test assumptions about peer-review, research, and practice-based solutions. I wanted my pre-service teacher students to know that solving problems in the real world is a complex and social process. I think this goal was achieved as all the students engaged in rich and nuanced discussions of the problems that we are facing as educators.

I found this project to be more productive than examinations as it gave me a better understanding of student knowledge and understanding.

Teaching Question:  Adapt the teaching and learning goal to a specific course.  Make this question narrow and focused so that it can be measured. 

For the TE 150 course, where I have pre-service teachers and students from other non-education departments who have to take this as a mandatory course, I ask a specific question:

Can alternatives to timed question-based examinations achieve equal or higher level of student understanding?

Assessment Technique: What instrument are you going to use to collect information?  Is it simple enough that you know how to analyze the results?  Will the information it provides answer the teaching question?

The project was divided into three categories: a research paper, a presentation, and social media exchange. I designed rubrics of expectations for each of the three and my students knew what was to be done for each of the categories. That said, I still wanted my students to have some agency in choosing what and how they wish to approach these categories. For this reason, I defined each of the questions broadly enough for them to play with the ideas and improvise.

Classroom Practice: What assignment or activity are you going to use in the class to try to test the question?  When are you going to do it?  Who will conduct it?  Will it be graded?  Will it be anonymous or will students sign their names?  How long will it take?  How will students know what to do with it?  Who will explain it?  How will the relationship between this assignment and activity and the course be explained?

I have already implemented this project in the form of an alternative for exams. I distributed the three categories as 60% for paper, 30% for presentation, and 10% for social media exchange. I implemented this in the Fall of 2016 with TE 150 students in my section for which I was a sole instructor. This project consisted of 40% of the overall grade. All decisions about this project were presented to the students for their approval and the final expectations were agreed upon. All instructions, rubrics, and expectations were clearly iterated on D2L as well.

Summary of Results: What does the information you collected through the assessment instrument tell you about your teaching question?

The exam project revealed to me more about student knowledge and content understanding than the exams did in the past. The project-related information helped me better understand how to design engaging classroom practices that are inclusive of multiple ideas and experiences without compromising course objectives. My teaching question can be framed as “whether alternatives to timed question-based examinations can achieve equal or higher level of student understanding?” In this case, I think, not only it helped me understand where my students were, it also gave them more practical tools to use in their lives as future teachers.

Conclusion: What have you learned?  What surprised you?  What would you do differently?  What implications does this have for your future classroom practice?

I was open and flexible to student input as I designed my exam projects. I want my students to feel a sense of agency and voice in such matters. However, it surprised me that some students were still not engaged in the activity, despite there being a decent amount of flexibility. In my understanding, since this course is mandatory for a lot of students, some of them do not wish to be there. While I can easily ignore this, next time, I wish to design this project in a way so it engages these students as well.

Artifact: Exam Project description

Data: The data for this project was the student submissions in form of their research papers, presentations, and tweets. All the data was graded for 40% of the overall grade in the course. This data cannot be shared publically.

Findings: As mentioned above, I found that there can be less stressful and engaging alternatives to exams that can result in practice-based skills and competencies for students.

Letter of Support and Evaluation from Mentor Teacher


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