San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
25.121.1 - 25.121.10
A Workshop to Improve Communication Skills for Teaching AssistantsIn engineering departments where teaching assistants (TAs) often lead recitation sessions andhold “office hours” in tutoring centers, it is important that these TAs can clearly communicatenew, discipline-specific, technical information to other students who have a technicalbackground, but lack expertise in the topic at hand. The same can be said for any engineeringstudent, who will be required to communicate on technical topics after graduation. ASME’s“Vision 2030: Creating the Future of Mechanical Engineering Education”, cites the results of asurvey of over 1000 engineering managers as pointing to communication as an area whereengineering graduates need improvement.In order to address this need, a teaching workshop for engineering students has been developed,with the intention of giving students the skills they need to be able to teach other students. Thisexperience of teaching others is hypothesized to help students improve both their own commandof the subject matter and the communication skills required to teach technical material. Theteaching workshop currently contains five modules: 1. Knowing your audience 2. Lecture and questioning techniques 3. Managing hands-on activities 4. Classroom assessment techniques 5. Microteaching session with peer observationDuring the final peer observation session, students evaluate one another on their written andverbal communication skills, and provide constructive feedback for improvement.This teaching workshop has been offered four times in its current form, to a total of 17 students.Participants include student members of capstone design teams, students interested involunteering at outreach programs, and full-time co-operative education students doing extensiveteaching and curriculum development for engineering outreach programs on campus. During the2011-12 academic year, this workshop will be expanded and offered as a one-credit electivecourse to Mechanical Engineering students who are interested in working as TAs in thedepartment. Additional content relative to TAs, such as writing and working sample problems,grading, and using the campus course management system, will be integrated.The results to date are favorable. Out of the 17 prior attendees, students on average felt that eachof the five sessions was helpful (minimum score 4.18/5), and all students agreed or stronglyagreed that they would recommend the workshop to other students.
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